Mary LaPlant grew up in Milwaukee, WI and started playing violin at 9 years old. In high school her orchestra toured Scotland, England and Wales. In college she majored in violin performance and forestry. Mary graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry with a minor in music, and was hired by the US Forest Service to work in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeast Minnesota. While there, she entered the State Fiddle Contest on a whim and won second place! That day she also met her husband - guitar maker and player, Don LaPlant. That started her fiddling career.
More recently, Mary has won the title “State Fiddle Champion” three times (1999, 2003 and 2006). She has also performed with Jay Ungar (composer of “Ashokan Farewell”), opened for Ricky Skaggs, is the fiddler of a local bluegrass group, and is the concertmaster and occasional soloist for the Itasca Symphony Orchestra. She has also been hired as the backup fiddler on numerous recordings. “Serenity” is her second of three recordings and features some of her most favorite fancy fiddle tunes along with the first piece she ever wrote, “Sorrow’s Joy”. Here’s what she has to say about that piece:
“I never intended to write music – I didn’t know I could. I was just playing my violin one day after our infant daughter died, and this tune just came pouring out of my heart through my fingers. I played it over and over – it expressed the emptiness I was feeling. I never performed it or did anything with it until years later when I was choosing the tunes for “Serenity”. I thought that if anybody was ever to hear it, this would be the time. Then I realized that the beautiful, mournful melody I had written didn’t tell the whole story. It didn’t reflect all the fun we had with our daughter then, nor how my life is richer now because of her life and death. So I titled that first melody “Allison” after our daughter. Then I added a second comfortable and happy tune called “Good Times”, along with a third called “The Gift”. My life is richer now because I appreciate what I have – while I have it. For me, “Sorrow’s Joy” expresses how it hurts to lose someone you love, and how that sorrow can bring joy to the rest of your life. I hope it touches others’ hearts as it does mine.”
Today Mary is a full-time mother (she and Don are blessed with two other children) and a part-time violin teacher. There’s no place she’d rather be.