In making the announcement, GNWCA President Charlie Jordan said, “The GNWCA Music Appreciation Award for 2021 recognizes the many musical contributions to the Great North Woods and surrounding region by Roland Cotnoir. Musician, violin maker and a friend to all who shared his love of music in the North Country, Roland generously contributed his musical talent to a wide array of musical endeavors in the region and was an inspiration to all who knew him.”
Roland was a man of many achievements: local business owner, former town official, founding member of the Colebrook Development Corporation and active member of the Colebrook Kiwanis Club.
But whenever possible he filled his spare time with music, either making it or supporting it. He was well-known for his guitar playing, but also mastered other string instruments and was a skilled violin repairer and maker, filling a place in his carpet business building with violin repair tools and assorted fiddles he was working on. Here he made a beautiful violin from scratch and was thrilled to have regional fiddlers try it out whenever they stopped by to visit. And on occasion Roland could be persuaded into singing a French tune from his boyhood in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.
Roland was a longtime member of Carolyn and Friends, a musical aggregation of regional performers formed by Brad and Carolyn Brooks, as well as a member of the Fireside Fiddlers, which was formed by local fiddler Patrick Ross. And whenever and wherever the need–be it open mics or outdoor festivals–he could be counted on to be there to provide not only expert guitar accompaniment but also all the sound equipment necessary to make the event a success.
Roland is the third recipient of the GNWCA Music Appreciation Award. The first was given two years ago to the family of the late Brad and Carolyn Brooks. Last year’s award recognized the late David Killam. The presentation of the 2021 award will be made at a public concert at the Great North Woods Center for the Arts in Columbia at a date to be announced. It is expected that the area groups the Fireside Fiddlers and Comfort Country will perform that night and other musical friends may show up as well. Members of Roland’s family will also be on hand to receive the award.
“We are proud to be the stewards of much of Roland’s music equipment and fiddle repair tools, which are at the Center,” said Jordan. “We plan to have a display of some of his fiddle tools and violin parts on display at this year’s presentation.”