University Concert Series brings Bowfire to Jesse Auditorium

Sunday, October 25, 2009 | 2:48 p.m. CDT; updated 4:31 p.m. CDT, Sunday, October 25, 2009

COLUMBIA — A variety of genres will be heard in Jesse Auditorium on Monday night as Bowfire, a unique musical ensemble from Canada, takes the stage.

Appearing for the second time in Columbia, the Bowfire show is part of the University Concert Series at MU.

Bowfire showcases multiple violinists and fiddlers; the show also features other instrumentation, dancing, costumes and eye-catching light effects.

Craig Francis, a marketing director who worked with Bowfire for Monday's performance, credits the group's creator, Lenny Solomon, as a key instrument of its success. 

“Solomon has been playing violin for something like 30 years,” Francis said. “He conceived of the show and handpicked the cast.” 

Solomon, who is classically trained in jazz violin, started Bowfire after working with a number of different musicians. 

“I’ve always been into discovering new ways of presenting music,” Solomon said. “I had this concept of putting a bunch of talented musicians together in a room to see what would come out. I tried this, and it eventually became Bowfire.” 

Solomon said he thinks that part of the success of Bowfire is its collaborative nature. 

“Bowfire sort of organically morphs both in terms of the show and the personnel,” Solomon said. “Of course, it inevitably changes. Some of the musicians and myself are responsible for arrangements, but the whole thing is really a joint effort.”

And Bowfire is not just for a specific age group. Solomon said he often sees crowd members of allages.  

In particular, he said he thinks kids enjoy the unusual aspects of Bowfire's shows. 

“I get letters from parents who thank us because of the show’s inspirational effect on their kids,” Solomon said. “I think it’s because we present the violin in such a different way — maybe it inspires kids to go to the practice room or pick up a musical instrument. I take pride in the fact that we are able to turn kids on like that.” 

Solomon thinks location is not important to the show’s success. The troupe moves all across the United States and Canada, in addition to taking occasional international trips. 

“What I’ve discovered is that — small town or big town — people love the fiddle and great music,” Solomon said. “Bowfire has both of that.” 

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