Violinist and fiddler Miriam Sonstenes performs, composes and teaches music in Victoria, BC, Canada. She is a member of the award-winning acoustic roots trio The Sweet Lowdown
After emigrating to Canada from Germany at the age of 9, Miriam’s first musical studies began with classical violin and piano lessons. She joined BC’s Delta Youth Orchestra at age 15, and gained further performance experience with the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra and various theatre productions. Upon graduating high school, Miriam began her post secondary music education at the Vancouver Academy of Music. After completing a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Victoria in 2006 and freelancing as a classical musician for a number of years, Miriam found herself drawn to fiddle music; Irish, Old Time, Swing and Bluegrass, the roots music which has come to inspire her current playing, projects and compositions.
A decade of performing and recording with a number of west coast bands and solo artists has allowed Miriam to develop an original sound, steeped in tradition and yet fresh and compelling. Freelance study throughout the Pacific Northwest, North Carolina, Louisiana and Ireland has enriched her love of many fiddle traditions. In 2015 Miriam was awarded a Musician’s Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to study with Bluegrass fiddler Bobby Hicks. Her command of the instrument, her compositions, and her joyful live performances are the product of her ceaseless, passionate study of diverse traditions of music.
A member of The Sweet Lowdown since 2009, Miriam has toured Canada, the US and the UK, performing for audiences of folk and roots music lovers to critical acclaim. The trio has produced 3 albums, all recipients of multiple awards and award nominations. Recent performances with The Sweet Lowdown include the Canadian Folk Music Awards, and CBC’s Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean.
When not on the road, Miriam teaches violin and fiddle at home and on Skype. Her innovative and patient teaching style has made her a sought-after instructor, both in Victoria and across Canada. She regularly leads workshops at camps in BC and in the North West Territories, and at home has a full teaching studio. She lead the Victoria Conservatory of Music group fiddle classes for 6 years. Recent camps and workshops include Nimblefingers Bluegrass and Old Time Workshop, Gavin Lake Fiddle Camp, Northern Lights Bluegrass and Old Tyme Workshop, and Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music.