Calvin Vollrath (b.

1960): Metis Fiddler
Vollrath is a Metis fiddler and composer. He is one of the best fiddlers in the world. He is also one of the few European-Canadian fiddle players playing professionally in the Metis style. Since 1981, he has produced 54 albums for of his own. He has also produced countless recording for other artists. He was commissioned to compose 5 fiddle tunes for the 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in Vancouver, which was watched by 3.5 billion people around the world. He lives in St. Paul, Alberta.

Calvin’s love for music began at an early age when he used to mimic his father Art "Lefty" Vollrath with two butter knives. His father developed his own reputation as a great fiddler and passed on the family tradition. Calvin was raised on the Don Messer’s Jubilee and at the age of 8, received his first fiddle. It was soon apparent Calvin was a natural. At 13, he entered his first fiddle contest and at the age of 17, he was already winning the Championship class. Calvin was twice crowned the Grand North American Old Tyme Fiddle Champion.


Calvin is a musical prodigy. To date, he has composed over 475 tunes, many of which have become standard contest and dance tunes across North America & Europe. His influence in the fiddle world is very evident. He has to his credit, 58 of his own albums, numerous music books of his original compositions and an instructional DVD. Calvin was commissioned to compose 5 fiddle tunes for the Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010 Opening Ceremonies to represent the various styles of fiddling our country has to offer. He also wrote the theme for the international fiddle convention "Fiddles of the World", held in Halifax NS in July 1999. He won the Grand North American Old Tyme Fiddle Championship in 1985. In more recent years, he's been a judge for the Canadian Grand Masters fiddle competition, and was awarded a Life Time Achievement Award from them in 2005. He participates in Emma Lake Fiddle Camp. He has played with various other musicians including John Arcand. Some of his music is jazz-like, some from the Metis tradition. Jerry Holland has composed a tune in Calvin's honour, named "Calvin, Fiddler’s Idol". Calvin has represented Canadian music internationally, such as at the World Music Expo in Berlin in 2000. He became the first fiddler to play at an NHL hockey game when the Edmonton Oilers invited him to play during the Stanley Cup finals in 1988. He has made recordings with musicians such as Ian Tyson, George Fox, Coleen Peterson, and Laura Vinson. The CBC’s documentary show hosted by Adrienne Clarkson aired a show about Métis fiddling that featured Calvin Vollrath and John Arcand. He composed and performed a piece for the 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

Edited and Compiled by Lawrence Barkwell Coordinator of Metis Heritage and History Research Louis Riel Institute