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2015 Texas Master Fiddler Award


  Awards Given at the 2nd Annual Festival of Texas Fiddling

First Recipients: Polish Fiddler Daniel Cendalski and Jose Moreno from the Rio Grande Valley   

The second annual Festival of Texas Fiddling was held on Saturday, November 7, at the historic dancehall La Bahia Turn Verein. The Festival is sponsored by Texas Folklife and Texas Dance Hall Preservation, Inc. It was a well-attended and highly successful event with fiddle showcases and workshops held throughout the day by master fiddlers in genres of old time, square dance, Texas Polish, upright bass, Mexican Huapango, Creole, and Texas-Mexican. The popular Western Swing band Elana James and Hot Club of Cowtown capped off the Festival with a dance on Saturday night.

The Saturday evening’s program also included the launch of the Texas Master Fiddler Awards. Two awards were given to master fiddlers who have carried on and lovingly preserved their genres of Texas traditional fiddling. Daniel Cendalski is the last of the active traditional fiddlers of Polish music in Washington County, Texas. Cendalski, who was introduced to the audience by cultural worker Frank Motley, has lived all his life in Washington County—where, in fact, La Bahia Turn Verein is located and the 2nd Annual Festival of Texas Fiddling was held. Cendalski started playing the guitar at the age of 7 with his fiddler father and brother, later he switched to the fiddle, and at the age of 75, Cendalski is still fiddling.

The other recipient of the Texas Master Fiddler Award is Jose Moreno, “El Fidelero del Valle.” Moreno was introduced Saturday night by cultural worker Dr. Ramon de Leon. Moreno is a keeper of the almost extinct U.S.-Mexico border musical tradition of string band music featuring traditional Mexican and border songs. Now retired at the age of 85, Moreno’s legacy has been to preserve the music of the Texas borderlands of the 18th and 19th centuries through his recording and apprenticing young talent.

In addition to being named “Masters of Texas Fiddling,” Cendalski and Moreno each received a cash award and a unique belt buckle with the Festival of Texas Fiddling and their names engraved on it. More biographical information can be found in these links on Daniel Cendalski and Jose Moreno.      

“This year the Festival is happy to launch the new Master of Texas Fiddling award, which recognizes and honors the most significant musicians playing in their traditions in the state,” said artistic director of the Festival of Texas Fiddling Daniel Margolies. “For the first awards, we have selected two musicians who define their regional styles. Jose Moreno has singlehandedly kept alive the tradition of Mexican-American fiddle and mandolin music from the Rio Grande Valley, where it used to flourish a century ago. Daniel Cendalski is the last of the old school Washington County Texas-Polish fiddlers, playing a unique driving style, which entertained generations of people in the region. It is their artistry and commitment to traditional music in Texas, and the dedication of their lives to playing it that has helped sustain these unique styles of music. We are honored to be able to honor these fine musicians!”