Fiddle dynamics in Galicia during the 20th and 21st century

Round Table

The presence of the violin in traditional music in Galicia dates back to the Middle Ages with the tradition of blind fiddlers. However, this tradition fell into disuse and was revived during the 20th and 21st centuries. Since then, violinists (fiddlers) have begun to participate in Galician folk and traditional music groups. Additionally, e-Trad (2009) and the Galicia Fiddle Cultural Association (2010) were created. As a result, by 2023, Galician fiddlers and their music are not only present in Galicia but also beyond its borders, creating an expansive route from Galicia to Europe, America, Africa, and Asia.

Since its creation, e-Trad has served as a platform for violinists seeking a connection with folk music and an alternative place to study outside of classical music conservatories. Moreover, through the activities organized by Galicia Fiddle Cultural Association, learning music is understood as a collaborative and playful activity, meant to promote motivation and musical self-esteem. Additionally, students of all ages are encouraged to play in natural environments where they can participate in musical, artistic, and recreational activities developed from an ecological perspective.

This panel on folk music will be presented by three professional researcher-musicians specialized in the fields of music business, performance, ethnomusicology, and pedagogy. To conduct this study, the researchers employed the quasi-experimental case study method as well as the ethnographic method through participant observation at concerts, festivals, courses, and conferences related to the fiddle in Europe, America, and Asia.


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About the speakers

Alfonso Franco

He has been the fiddle teacher at the Traditional Music Conservatory of Vigo (ETRAD) and responsible for the string section of the Galician Folk Orchestra Sondeseu for 20 years. Hundreds of students have passed through its classrooms, contributing to the emergence of a new and vibrant generation of fiddlers in the northwest of Spain.

He has conducted numerous workshops and performed in various locations such as Mexico, Beijing, St. John’s, Scotland, and at Alasdair Frasier’s Sierra Fiddle Camp in California. Leading the cultural association Galicia Fiddle, he serves as the director of “San Simón Fiddle Camp” and “Encordass Fiddle Fest.”

A regular contributor to the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention, he has published several articles on the Galician violin. His dedication to promoting Galician fiddle internationally was acknowledged by Fiddler Magazine, featuring him on the cover of one of its issues.

While concentrating on teaching and promoting the Galician violin globally, he actively engages in various artistic projects. Currently, he is part of the Atrio trio, collaborating with his two children and American pianist Neil Pearlman.

Presently, he is involved in a European project focused on establishing a European fiddle network.


María Rosa Pampillo Retana, Violin

Rosa Pampillo, originally from Costa Rica, has been residing in Spain since 2004. As a violinist and ethnomusicologist, she played a pivotal role as a founder, violin teacher, and Artistic Director of the Tropical Fiddle course in Costa Rica. Beyond her classical violin studies, she has delved into fiddle, Galician tambourine, and Celtic harp. She was a member of the 2019 Cohort of the Global Leaders Program, using music as a tool to address social issues in communities in Chile and Brazil. Currently, she is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Ethnomusicology at Aveiro University (Portugal) and also works as a violin, ensemble, and music theory teacher in Galicia (Spain).


Susanna Blanco Novoa, Cello

Susana Blanco, nurtured in an artistic environment, developed a keen sensitivity to music and the arts. Graduating in violoncello, she actively engages in orchestral and chamber music performances. Her multidisciplinary background extends to connecting music with other art forms such as poetry and theatre. Holding a Master’s degree in Performing Arts and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Vigo, she explores research areas in motivation, musical self-concept, and learning disorders. Currently, she serves as a professor of cello and chamber music at the Higher Conservatory of Music of Vigo (Spain).