Judges for the 2018 Competition

Mia Orosco


Mia Orosco, the 2018 Grand Master Fiddler Champion, age 24, is a recognized classical violinist in addition to a multiple state and national fiddle champion. Mia grew up in Lorena, Texas and began studying classical violin at age 6. She soon began studying violin with Dr. Eka Gogichashvili and fiddle with Joey McKenzie.

​In her high school years, Mia was accepted to the Texas All-State Symphony three times and won the Waco Youth Symphony Concerto Competition. In 2011, Mia was featured on the classical radio show “From the Top" which features the top young classical musicians in the nation.

During high school, Mia won the Texas State Junior Fiddle Championship, the Colorado State Junior Fiddle Championship, the Western Open Fiddle Championship, the National Junior Fiddle Championship, and at age 19, won the Grand National Fiddle Championship, becoming the youngest female to ever do so. In 2017, Mia won the Grand Master Fiddle Championship and subsequently will make her Grand Ole Opry debut in September of 2018.

Mia has performed and soloed with many ensembles around the country including the National Repertory Orchestra as a section player and soloist, the American Institute of Musical Studies Orchestra, the Schleswig Holstein Festival Orchestra, and the Round Top Festival Institute Orchestra as concertmaster. Mia is also a substitute violinist with America's Orchestral Academy, the New World Symphony.

When Mia graduated from Baylor University's music program, she also retired as the three-year concertmaster of the Baylor Symphony Orchestra , and was awarded the Presser Undergraduate Award, an award given by music faculty to the top music student guided solely by consideration of excellence and merit.
 Additionally, she won the Baylor University's school-wide solo competition, Pro Semper Musica, and performed on the winner's recital on the SMU campus in Dallas.

During her time at Baylor, Mia was the String Area Representative on the Dean's Student Council, the Baylor Symphony Orchestra Representative/Graphic Designer and the Baylor Violin Studio Representative, where she worked to advertise and promote the classical music available to the public at the university.

​In May of 2018, Mia graduated with a Masters Degree from Indiana University with Kevork Mardirossian and is now teaching at the Suzuki Music Institute of Dallas in addition to running a fiddle studio, freelancing, and playing with the Abilene Philharmonic.


Daniel Carwile


U.S. Grand Master Fiddle Champion, Daniel has competed in virtually every major fiddle competition in the United States. He has been crowned the Tennessee Valley Old-Time Fiddlers Convention "Fiddle King" an amazing 7 times. Other conquests include Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee State Championships as well as Lake Superior, North Cascades, Colorado Open, Grand Lake National, and The World Series of Fiddling Championships.


When not competing, Daniel can often be found in the judge's seat, most recently judging Northwest Regional, Wyoming State, Oregon State, Indiana State, Colorado Rocky Mountain Fiddle Championship, and the National Old-Time Fiddler's Contest in Weiser, Idaho. 


Daniel maintains a busy schedule teaching privately and at various camps and workshops.  He has instructed at Mark O'Connor's Fiddle Camps and String Conferences the past 14 years and taught at Vanderbilt University's International Fiddle School and The Swannanoa Gathering in Asheville, North Carolina.


John Lardinois


Adept in a range of different settings, John Lardinois is a versatile musician who maintains a busy performance schedule across genres. John initially started with classical training at age 4 but then caught the fiddling “bug” a few years later and went on to compete in fiddle contests throughout the mid-west after spending multiple summers studying with renowned fiddle teachers, Dick and Lisa Barrett.


While completing graduate violin performance studies at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, John continued his interest in exploring other diverse styles expanding his repertoire to include everything from bluegrass to progressive rock to Indian raga.


John currently resides in Dayton, Ohio, where he is a member of the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance and DPO symphony. In addition to his classical duties John plays with several bands in the region as well as engages in freelance orchestral arranging and studio session work.


Justin Branum


Justin Branum is a fiddler and multi-instrumentalist based out of the Nashville, TN area where he plays on recording sessions, does road dates, produces, and arranges music.


Growing up playing western swing, bluegrass, country music and old-time fiddle tunes, he was frequently playing in various instrument contests and has won the Grand Master Fiddler Contest, National Fiddle Contest, Tennessee State Fiddle Championship, and the Tennessee State Mandolin Championship, among many others.


Justin has played with a wide variety of bands and artists such as Son Volt, Johnny Bush, Pokey LaFarge, Bobby Flores and the Yellow Rose Band, Lee Ann Womack, Roland White, The Sons of the Pioneers, The Jim Hurst Trio, and Marty Haggard.

He holds a Masters degree in jazz studies from Webster University and served as an adjunct professor of music at Washington University and Webster University.


Bobby Taylor


Bobby Taylor is a fourth generation West Virginia fiddler. He plays several styles of old-time and contest fiddling, but got his early start from the legendary Clark Kessinger, who influenced a world of fiddlers. He has a melting pot of old-time fiddle styles including the styles of his father Lincoln Taylor (1911-1995), Ed Haley, Mike Humphreys, Benny Thomasson, Reece B. Jarvis, Doc Roberts, French Carpenter and scores of others to name a few. He was the 1977 West Virginia State Open Fiddle Champion. In 2003, Bobby received the FOOTBRIDGE AWARD. This award was presented by FOOTMAD (Friends of Old-Time Music and Dance) for his contributions to old-time music. Bobby was presented The 2010 VANDALIA AWARD by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. The Vandalia award is West Virginia’s highest folk-life honor. When fiddle enthusiast West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd passed away in July of 2010, Bobby was honored to be chosen to play Senator Byrd’s favorite fiddle tunes during the public visitation in the West Virginia Capitol Rotunda, and for the official memorial service. Bobby was also requested by the Byrd family to play for the private funeral services. He was inducted into the Mountain State Art and Craft Fair Hall of Fame in Ripley, WV in July of 2012 for his musical contributions to the State of West Virginia.  


Bobby has been the coordinator of West Virginia's Vandalia Gathering contests at the State Capitol in Charleston since 1979. He was the contest coordinator of the Appalachian Open Contest from 1984 through 1987, and he has been the contest coordinator of the Appalachian String Band Music Festival contest since 1990. All of these events are sponsored by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Bobby recently retired after serving for many years as the Library Manager of the West Virginia Archives and History Library Section of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.


Bobby has judged the Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia state championships, and is a regular judge at the Old Fiddlers Convention in Galax, Virginia. He has judged the Grand Master Fiddle Championship in Nashville, TN since 2006 to present. He was selected to judge the 2007, 2010 and 2012 Western Open Fiddle Championship in Red Bluff, CA. He was a judge at Jana Jae’s Grand Lake National Fiddle Fest in 2006, 2007 and 2009 in Grove, OK. He was selected as a judge at the Grand National Fiddle Championship in Weiser, ID in 2008. Bobby is a certified national fiddle judge. He is a nationally recognized consultant on rules and judging procedures for heritage music competitions. He has taught fiddle workshops at the Augusta Heritage Center, Allegheny Echoes in West Virginia, the 2012 Midwest Banjo Camp in Michigan and at the 2013 Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, WA. He has performed on musical tours in Australia and Ireland, and was a featured performer at the National Folk Festival in Australia in March of 2008. He was a featured performer at the Library of Congress and at the Kennedy Center on August 16, 2012. The Library of Congress show was recorded for their permanent collection.


In 1990, Bobby apprenticed and constructed a violin under the guidance of Harold M. Hayslett. Mr. Hayslett was a Violin Society of America “Gold Medal” winner for tone at the 1980 international competition.


Bobby currently judges extensively and presents historical showcases on fiddle styles with his old-time band “Kanawha Tradition.” It is not uncommon for historic fiddles once owned by great fiddlers such as Clark Kessinger and Ed Haley to show up at these events.  Bobby is the custodian of these historical instruments. 


The 2018 Grand Masters will return to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's Ford Theater on September 1st and 2nd (Labor Day Weekend). Visit this website often for updates.

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