Gretchen Koehler grew up in Westfield, Massachusetts surrounded by the rich traditions of Old Time Fiddle and New England Contra Dance music. She is known throughout the Eastern US and Canada for her contest fiddling, winning championships in seven states and three Canadian provinces. At age ten, Time Magazine wrote "little Gretchen Koehler gave a driving, foot stomping performance" for the audience of 25,000 that was "astonishingly good." Her fiddling has been heard nationally on NPR's "Thistle and Shamrock," as well as north of the border many times on CBC Radio, as multiple winner of the prestigious Twin Fiddle Class of the Shelburne, Ontario contest. Her playing is documented on dozens of archival recordings of New England fiddle contests as well as transcribed in Mel Bay American Fiddle books. Fiddler Magazine has described her playing as, "soaring ...driving ...virtuosic ...masterful." In 2012, she was inducted into the New York State Fiddlers' Hall of Fame and in 2014 was honored with a Heritage Award from Traditional Arts in Upstate New York.
Gretchen studied classical violin at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, has been a violinist in The Orchestra of Northern New York (featured soloist 2009, 2013, 2016) and has taught hundreds of students to play the fiddle through her public school teaching, fiddle clinics in the US, Canada and Mexico and private instruction in her studio in Potsdam, NY.
Gretchen and her sister Rebecca, also a champion fiddler, have played music together for over 40 years and have four recordings together including twin fiddle album, Parallel Lines-Celtic Fiddles which showcases Gretchen's dynamic string arranging. The sisters teamed up with master Old Time fiddler Don Woodcock to play triple fiddle harmonies on their release, The Fiddlers Three. Gretchen currently performs with internationally known jazz musician Daniel Kelly. Together, they combine traditional Irish fiddling with jazz piano. Koehler & Kelly's debut CD, The Waxwing was featured on NPR's Thistle & Shamrock- Best New Sounds.