Aynsley Porchak, a recent graduate of the ETSU Bluegrass, Country & Old Time Music program has won the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Championship, just one year after winning the US competition last year. This is an historic first, making her the first ever winner of both prestigious competitions.
The Woodstock, Ontario native is currently a graduate student in the Appalachian Studies department at ETSU, where she serves as a graduate assistant and performs as the fiddler with their Pride Band.
She tells us that it was a treat to return to competing in Canada, and being asked back to this invitation-only contest.
“The Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Championship is a selection of competitors from all of the provinces in Canada, similar in scale to the Nashville Grand Masters. I took a few years off from competing in Canadian contests when I started my degree at ETSU in 2013, but I got an invitation to compete at this contest last year for the first time. I had always wanted to go and compete (it was one of my goals as a little girl), and I was so thankful to be considered!
I placed 4th last year which got me another invitation for the next year, and I had so much fun that I decided that I definitely wanted to go back! There were 29 in it this year, which was a big turnout for this contest. I feel extremely blessed to have won it – I still can hardly believe that it happened!”
This video isn’t super high quality, but the audio is just fine, capturing Aynsley at the Canadian Grand Masters. Her accompanists are Trent Bruner on piano and Ben Knorr on guitar.
It turns out that one other Canadian has won the US Grand Masters, Rudy Meeks in 1977. But he never took first in the Canadian competition, giving Porchak the sole possession of this grand two-fer. For such a young lady, this is a fabulous distinction that foretells a great career in traditional music wherever she may choose to pursue it.
The complete list of finishers from the August 26 competition in Ottawa follows:
- Aynsley Porchak, ON
- Kyle Burghout, ON
- Dan Mighton, ON
- Raymond Knorr, SK
- Ethan Harty, AB
- Alanna Jenish, ON
- Germain Leduc, QC
- Jane Cory, MB
- Janelle Melanson, NB
- Céline Murray, ON
- Martha Pitre, NB