Elise Boeur is a thoroughly unique breed of fiddler. She ties together diverse influences with a deceptively light touch – her distinctive, silvery tone belongs to a world of its own. Whether deftly filling the role of fiddler, violist or hardingfiddler in a wide variety of projects, or playing her own gleefully outfield, Nordic-influenced “imaginary folktunes”, her playing is unmistakable.
Boeur’s relationship with her instrument runs deep. At age 14, her passion for Irish traditional music led her to travel to Ireland alone, studying Donegal fiddling and the Gaelic language along the north-west coast. At 17, she moved to Ireland and supported herself as a busker for a year while steeping herself in the Irish fiddle tradition. Back in her hometown of Vancouver, she studied a variety of violin styles at the VCC School of Music, including free improv and jazz. The lilt instilled through her early Irish immersions has remained an element of her playing throughout her explorations of modern music, making hers a distinct voice in the Vancouver creative music scene.
In recent years, Boeur’s open ears have turned to the rich musical traditions of Scandinavia. While many North American fiddlers have heard of the hardingfele – a Norwegian fiddle variant with sympathetic strings – most don’t get a chance to see or play one. Boeur’s curiosity and enthusiasm about the instrument and its music led her to surmount this challenge by simply making one. Despite having never removed a fingerboard, reamed holes for tuning pegs, or refinished an instrument before, she set about converting one of her violins and documenting the process on a popular blog dedicated to the process. That this seemingly crazy pursuit was an incredible success is a testament to Boeur’s almost headstrong determination to follow her creative impulses at all costs. Boeur now plays a 2011 hardingfele built by Norwegian luthier Jarle Hagane.
Her love for Scandinavian folk music resulted in travels though the musical heartlands of Norway and Sweden, and an inspiring exploration of the sub-Arctic region of northern Norway. Supported by a BC Arts Council Professional Development grant, she returned to Norway to study traditional Norwegian hardingfele and fiddle music under Ånon Egeland at the Høgskolen i Telemark college of folk arts in 2012. She has developed this music in adventurous duos with Swedish guitarist Simon Nyberg and Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Michael Caplin, with her Vancouver-based instrumental trio Marmota. Currently concentrating on a duo with New York bassist Nate Sabat, and her new 5-piece prog-trad band Aerialists, Elise is joyfully exploring the reaches of contemporary Scandinavian folk music.
In 2013, Elise was the recipient of the full-ride Slaight Family Scholarship to Berklee College of Music, where she is currently studying and immersing herself in Boston’s vibrant acoustic music scene.
Somehow, Elise has found time around her own personal multi-faceted fiddle journey to lend her talents to dozens of bands and recordings, including work with the Jenny Ritter Band, O’Mally, Fish & Bird, Anthony Braxton’s Sonic Genome Project, Giorgio Maganensi / Vancouver New Music, Morlove, The Paperboys, David Newberry, Sarah Jane Scouten, Joel Battle Band, La La Boom Boom, Breakfast Trio, Jesse Griffith, and more.
As a string ensemble member, Elise has performed with Dream Theater, Darol Anger and Allison Brown, Karim Wasfi, Alejandro Sanz, Karthik, and A.R. Rahman.