Benson Teen Repeats as Fair Fiddle Champion

By Nancy Gordon

Pantagraph staff

BENSON – Rob Hecht, 16, of Benson won his Second title in the 16-and-under category of the Illinois Old time Fiddler’s Association Fiddle Championships Saturday at the Illinois State Fair.

Hecht, who has been playing fiddle since the age of 3, said he played “The Gardenia Waltz” and a Kenny Baker fiddle tune, “Last Train to Durham,” in the competition. “It was fun,” he said about the contest. A Junior this fall at Central Catholic High School, Bloomington, Hecht spends most of his time in music oriented activities. He has taken up the mandolin and acoustic guitar and plays tenor saxophone in the Central Catholic Jazz Band, and in the Heartland College Jazz Orchestra, both directed by Doug Tidaback. The Heartland group will play Aug. 25 at Bloomington Country Club and Sept. 1 at The Coffeehouse in Normal. On July 4 he traveled with the Central High School Jazz Band to perform at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Geneva, Switzerland. His parents, Bill and Debbie Hecht, were among the chaperone parents for the 10-day trip. The group also performed for a jazz festival in Paris.

Hecht plays fiddle on Friday nights at the Bement Country Opry in Bement and on Saturday nights at the Kentuckiana Opry, Hopedale. He was formerly with the McLean County Opry at Bellflower. The money he earns help pay his school tuition, he said.

Hecht’s father is pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church and is keyboard player for Bement Country Opry. He also records his own original country and gospel music. His mother is a substitute teacher and all three of his siblings are music oriented.