Emmalene van Meel is very grateful to the many people who donated spare change to her at the Haney Farmers Market over the years as she fiddled - it has helped her finally buy a full-sized violin.
The Whonnock resident will be part of the lineup this Friday evening at Burnett Fellowship Church where a fundraiser, the Benefit Celtic Concert, is being held to raise money for this year's Santa Claus Parade and Christmas in the Park events on Dec. 1.
At the age of eight, Emmalene discovered fiddling and since then that has been her main musical genre. She plays with the North Shore Celtic Ensemble and studies at the Langley Community Music School.
Emmalene, now 15, has been performing for years, making her big-stage debut at the closing ceremonies of the BC Disability Games in Maple Ridge in 2009.
"I've been doing it for so long, I don't find it very nerve-racking any more," she said.
"I love to perform because I like to connect with the audience," she explained, adding that she enjoys the feeling of sharing her music with an audience, and "it feels nice when they like your music."
Emmalene started going to the Haney Farmers Market about four years ago, and at that time, she was collecting donations toward her trip to Scotland with the North Shore Celtic Ensemble's senior fiddling group.
Later, her focus was on saving up for a full-sized violin, and she estimates her fiddling at the market helped pay for about half of her new instrument.
After playing fiddle music for several years, and performing extensively - much of it Canadian fiddling, which is a combination of Quebecois, Scottish, and French fiddling - Emmalene is leaning more toward classical violin, learning Bach and Mozart.
She plans to study music when she goes on to postsecondary, with her goal to be a music performer.
Emmalene said she thinks the concert on Friday, where she'll be on stage with fellow North Shore Celtic Ensemble fiddler Jessie Kazemir, will be a "blast."
The Benefit Celtic Concert takes place from 8 to 10 p.m. at Burnett Fellowship Church, 20639 123rd Ave.
In addition to the Emmalene's performance with Jessie Kezemir, the concert lineup includes Tam and Shelley Gordy of the Navvies, Lydia Querengesser with the Young Peoples Opera Society of B.C., and Brian Nash of the Welsh Men's Choir.
Senior accompanist for the evening is Lillian Cumberbirch from the Wilson Seniors Centre Honey Combs, and emcee for the evening is Cristin Bostrom. The concert's musical director is Nigel Tucker.
Tickets for the Friday, Nov. 2 concert can be purchased at the door for $10, with all proceeds going to pay for the free December parade. For information, go to www.mapleridgechristmas.ca.