The Berwick Fiddle Consort began in the summer of 2018 when founding members Lydia Becker, Julia Connor, Sarah Bleile, and Anna Maberry discovered their shared interest in both historical performance practice and traditional fiddling. They found that historical instruments shared many techniques and musical characteristics with Celtic and American fiddle music. At the Oregon Bach Festival Berwick Academy, they began a nightly tradition of meeting after rehearsals and playing fiddle tunes on baroque violins well into the night.
Lydia Becker is an innovative violinist who is passionate about building a vibrant audience relationship through historical performance practices and authenticity.
Lydia currently holds the position of first violinist of the Eastman Collegium Musicum where she works closely with Early Music Program faculty members Christel Thielmann and Paul O’Dette. She is a founding member of multiple ensembles, including Innominatum and Ensemble Perihipsous, a period orchestra based in Rochester, NY. Lydia performs in many festivals and concerts, such as the American Bach Soloists Academy, Berwick Academy at the Oregon Bach Festival, and Rencontres Musicales Internationales des Graves in Bordeaux, France.
Having earned a BM in Violin Performance with high distinction from the Eastman School of Music, Lydia is continuing her graduate studies in Violin Performance and Early Music with Eastman faculty Oleh Krysa, Christel Thielmann, and Paul O’Dette. In her free time, she enjoys swing-dancing, eating chocolate, and fiddling with friends and family.
Julia Connor enjoys performing everything from baroque music on period instruments to new works by living composers. She is a founding member of the violin and piano duo Room to Spare, which released its debut album in May 2019. Julia performs regularly in Boston with Emmanuel Music, Boston Baroque, Music at Marsh Chapel, and Grand Harmonie, among others. Recent highlights include performances at (le) Poisson Rouge, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Oregon Bach Festival. In January of 2019 she joined the faculty of the Intercambio de Musica (Classical Music exchange program) at the world-renowned Panama Jazz Festival.
Julia also enjoys exploring and creating music that blurs the lines between classical, jazz, folk traditions, and free improvisation. She has collaborated on several recording projects with musicians at the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, including the Music Alliance Project, a genre-defying ensemble which unified a string quartet and a jazz trio under the leadership of pianist and composer Chase Morrin. An avid Irish fiddler, she has also performed in County Clare, Ireland as part of the annual Feakle Festival, including a special performance on Clare FM Radio and workshops with prominent Clare fiddlers Martin Hayes and Sorcha Costello.
Sarah Bleile Douglass performs with Rosa Barocca orchestra in Calgary, Alberta and with Erathos ensemble in Montreal, Quebec. She has also performed with Musa Baroque, Black Box Baroque and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. As an arts educator, Sarah has collaborated on educational music programs at the San Francisco Conservatory, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and the Calgary Pro Musica Society. She is also pursuing research into the historical performance practices of Scottish fiddling, a project supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Currently, Sarah studies baroque violin with Olivier Brault at McGill University. She has studied baroque violin with Elizabeth Blumenstock and modern violin with Ian Swensen, and has performed concerti of Vivaldi, Tartini and Bach with the San Francisco Conservatory baroque ensemble. She has also studied with Sigiswald Kuijken, Marc Destrubé and Robert Mealy.