Gretchen Koehler is a fiddler with an atlas of musical styles at her fingertips. Her left hand boasts a fierce Irish brogue, her bow arm provides a distinct American Old Time drive while her feet hammer out accompaniment on the floorboards in typical Quebecois style. Gretchen Koehler is a performer who charms audiences with her unique style that fuses the danceability of authentic traditional fiddling with the finesse of a classical violinist.
A fiddler since the age of 5, Gretchen grew up in the musical melting pot of New England surrounded by the rich sounds of Old Time, New England Contra, Quebecois, Ottawa Valley, Appalachian, Bluegrass, Cape Breton, Irish and Scottish fiddling. She was inducted into the North American Fiddlers' Hall of Fame (NY State rep.) and was honored with a Heritage Award from Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY) for her work preserving the region's musical traditions. She has shared the musical history and stories of her childhood with audiences in the US, Canada, Mexico and Europe, including the home of master violinmaker, Antonio Stradivari (Cremona, Italy.) Early in her career, she was known throughout the Northeastern US for her impeccable contest fiddling and TIME Magazine wrote that 1o year old "Gretchen Koehler gave a driving, foot stomping performance" for the audience of 25,000 that was "astonishingly good." Her strong musicality has given her the ability to weave her fiddling into a range of other styles of music, an ability that’s been highlighted by her recent collaborations with jazz pianist Daniel Kelly. Their duo, KOEHLER & KELLY combines traditional Irish fiddling with jazz piano. Their debut CD, The Waxwing was featured on NPR's Thistle & Shamrock- Best New Sounds.
Gretchen studied music at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, has been a violinist in The Orchestra of Northern New York, many times as a fiddle soloist. She has shared the joy of fiddling with hundreds of students 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 fiddling sister Rebecca have four recordings together including a twin fiddle CD, Parallel Lines-Celtic Fiddles which showcases Gretchen's dynamic string arranging and a triple fiddle album with master Old Time fiddler Don Woodcock, The Fiddlers Three. Gretchen's latest CD is with her duo Koehler & Kelly, The Waxwing (Irish).