Unsung Hero: Cape Elizabeth's Meghan Mette, fiddling for the bay

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Some lucky people discover a passion in life that feeds the soul. Meghan Mette avidly pursues two such passions, Irish fiddle music and marine biology, and she’s only 18 years old.

Moreover, she’s making the world a better place in the process.

Mette began taking classical violin lessons at age 4, following the Suzuki instruction method. Two years later she tried her hand at Irish fiddle music and got hooked.

“Playing traditional Irish music energizes me and gets me up in the morning,” Mette said. “If people don’t pass on the tradition, it will die out.”

Mette is doing her part. She practices for three to four hours most days (“In the basement, so no one hears me”), and often plays gigs around town.

“I love playing the music and having people clap and stomp their feet,”said Mette, who doesn’t take lessons, but often plays with 10-time Irish National Fiddle Champion Seamus Connolly, now a Maine resident.

As a student at Waynflete School in Portland, Mette was no fan of science until her junior year when she took a course in marine biology. “I fell in love with it,” she said. “Biology is all around us, and I’ve always loved the ocean.”

During the summer after her junior year, Mette volunteered with the Friends of Casco Bay. Her duties included monitoring water quality around the Casco Bay. “They have a wonderful group of people, and it was great being out on the water.”

During her last year at Waynflete, Mette had a bright idea for her independent study project: Make a CD of her fiddle music and donate the proceeds to the Friends of Casco Bay. She did just that. Her 14-track debut CD, “First Day,” which includes several of her own compositions, came out in June, and she was able to donate $1,000 to the organization as a result.

“Meghan’s interdisciplinary approach to life is so enriching to be around,” said Cathy Ramsdell, Friends of Casco Bay executive director. “She’s a star at whatever she does.”

Mette’s future looks as bright as her past, too. She’s been accepted to Oberlin College, where she’ll major in marine biology and minor in music. But first she’ll spend some time in Ireland at University College in Cork, where she’ll delve even deeper into traditional Irish fiddle music.

“You can just walk into a pub, sit down and play with other people,” Mette said. “You learn three or four tunes in a session and make some new friends.”

Mette has already made a big difference in her life, and she’ll continue to do so, propelled by her focus and enthusiasm.

“There’s so much wrong in the world; we have a lot to conquer,” she said. “You have to start somewhere.”

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Meghan Mette at her home in Cape Elizabeth, before leaving for a year in Ireland.

Unsung Heroes

Part of a twice-monthly series of profiles by Brunswick writer David Treadwell about people who quietly contribute to the quality of life in greater Portland. Do you know an Unsung Hero? Tell us: heroes@theforecaster.net

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