For James-Steven Farnsworth, playing the violin has been a lifelong pleasure. Farnsworth gained a love for the instrument from watching his mother create music through the years.
The violin veteran of 45 years is known to inspire audience members to belt out in song when he performs. These impromptu duet performances electrify crowds at local venues in Naples.
Recently, Farnsworth, 58, was found playing his classic violin music for more than 40 Emeritus residents in the retirement center’s activity room. Toes tapped along, giggles could be overheard, and reverie amongst long-time friends soon filled the air thanks to Farnsworth’s music.
Rena Booth-Fekete, an Emeritus resident, said Farnsworth’s Irish classics sung to her soul.
“My mother’s ancestors are from Ireland, from Belfast, to Shannon. I really like his Irish music,” she said as Farnsworth played “My Irish Eyes Are Smiling.”
Farnsworth credits his mother for sharing her gift of classical music with him.
“For me, it is equally enjoyable to play as it is to see people enjoying my music. My mother was a very talented pianist, and she inspired me to play,” said Farnsworth during a break. “I remember listening to my mom playing piano, and being witness of how music transforms a person. It’s why I do this today.”
In his short time in Naples, Farnsworth has played violin in many locales and has quickly built a following of fans. Along with playing at various venues, Farnsworth also started what he calls the “Fiddle Gram,” which like a bouquet of roses or a singing telegram, can be presented to loved ones on Valentine’s Day or for a special anniversary. Farnsworth also provides his services at funerals and memorial services.
This past Memorial Day, Farnsworth was also honored to be invited to play for Hodges Funeral Home at Naples Memorial Gardens for Governor Rick Scott. There he played for local veterans and families who gathered to celebrate the memories of loved ones who served in the military.
“I love the full spectrum that music provides. I can play lively Americana fiddle one minute, and play deep and moving music for funerals the next,” said Farnsworth.
Two-and-a-half year Emeritus resident Helen “Mimi” Straub was encouraged by Farnsworth’s music. Mimi frequents the Broadway Palm Theater, but was instantly singing to Farnsworth’s violin classics at Emeritus.
“It’s important to listen to music. I miss the music I used to listen to all the time. Cynthia Veranice is a marvelous activities director here and I’m glad she invited him,” said the 99-year-old.
Mary Davis, another Emeritus resident said, “It was absolutely wonderful to hear music of my youth again.”
The evening was wrapped up with two Irish songs and fans asking for an encore. “It was a terrific performance,” summed up Veranice.
While his next performance is still in planning stages, Farnsworth offered up his website to listeners, www.JamesSteven.com.