Keepers Of tradition
  Introduction        Folk Arts & Heritage Program        Search Archives        Blog
Browse themes:
  music PreviousNext
Cape Breton Musician
Joseph Cormier, Cape Breton Musician, ; Joseph Cormier (b. 1927); Waltham, Massachusetts;
Joseph Cormier, Cape Breton Musician,
Joseph Cormier (b. 1927)
Waltham, Massachusetts
verticle bar Artist
Joseph Cormier
Waltham, MA
Joe Cormier is a master of a beautiful and complex folk violin style that comes from one of the most musical places on earth ­ Cape Breton, an island located in the northeastern corner of Nova Scotia, Canada. This style is now nearly as American as it is Canadian. For some seventy years, Cape Breton violinists have been settling in the Boston area where other great masters of the style such as Angus Chisolm and Winston Fitzgerald have lived.

There are French melodies in Joes' repertoire as well as scores of Scottish and Cape Breton melodies. In Cape Breton communities, both Scottish and French, music and dancing are an integrated part of daily life. Cormier's playing epitomizes the strength, timing and roughness characteristic of a great dance hall fiddler, a fact not surprising since he's played for dancers in virtually every hall in Cape Breton. While living in Boston during the 1960s, Joe was the organizer of what came to be known as the Cape Breton Symphony. This was a group of six Cape Breton master violinists who performed for several seasons on Canadian television that is remembered with much love and respect by violin lovers throughout Canada. In 1982, Joe represented the United States on a musical goodwill tour of the Republic of China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Korea. In 1984, he was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship. He toured the nation with the National Council for the Traditional Arts Masters of the Folk Violin tour during 1988-89. Since that time he has appeared at festivals and in concert halls across the country. Joe was the first Cape Breton fiddler to record for a U.S. label, Rounder Records. More recently, Cormier has carried on the vibrant musical traditions of Cape Breton through recording collaborations with his talented nephew, J.P. Cormier. In 2006, Joe was awarded a Mass Cultural Council Artist Fellowship.
verticle bar Purchase Exhibition Catalogue