01 December 2022

Scots Fiddle Festival Celebrates 25 Plus 2

The Scots Fiddle Festival is 25 plus 2 years old. The “delay” of 2 years was due to the effect of the pandemic. The important “birthday” for the festival was marked on Saturday, 19 November 2022 by a ceremony in the Café Bar at the Pleasance in Edinburgh featuring a cake with 25 candles.

The birthday cake came at the end of an announcement of the completion of a project which is likely to have or provide ongoing benefit for the festival into the future.

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Chair of the Festival, Malcolm Gillies, explained as follows.

This is the publication of a book of compositions by 27 of Scotland’s fiddlers (well, 26, in fact – “plus 1” composer from outside not just the UK but Europe). The project was led by Adam Sutherland. Together with Charlie McKerron and Anna Massie, he selected one tune from each of 27 composers who had each been asked to supply 3 tunes from which the assessors would select one.

The tunes have been arranged into sets.

The book is particularly aimed at schools and the community groups. The intention is to expand the repertoire of available sheet music and arrangements every year so that this will be an ever expanding resource. There will be availability of downloads so that you can obtain sets of arrangements of the music for your school or community group. Orders for the new book and CD have already been received from as far away as New Zealand.

The Scots Fiddle Festival’s legacy project is aimed at making fiddle music as widely available as possible and overcoming barriers that there might be to distribution such as economics.

The Scots Fiddle Festival runs a separate Youth Engagement Project.

They performed a 15 minute set at the start of the Saturday evening concert at the festival.

The Youth Engagement Project involves young people under the age of 18 years and they go to 2 weekends of tuition in advance of the Fiddle Festival. The selection process begins around August and there are auditions by means of tapes and videos sent in for assessment. This year the young people came from places as far from the Central Belt as Mull.

Headliners, Session A9 congratulated The Scots Fiddle Festival on its 25th birthday at the Saturday evening concert.

Adam Sutherland drew attention to the tune book and the associated album of tunes by 27 composers (all from Scotland, except Liz Carroll). All 4 fiddlers in Session A9 – Gordon Gunn, Charlie McKerron, Kevin Henderson, and Adam Sutherland – had each contributed a tune.

Demonstrating that these concerts are as much about “chat” as music, Adam introduced the tune he had contributed to the book before it was performed by Session A9 at the concert, despite harrassment from his musical colleagues.

“It’s called Inspector John Duff of Braemar Police Mountain Rescue.”

“Who did you write it for?”

“I wrote it for a retired Police Inspector from the Braemar area associated strongly with the rescuing of people who have become lost in the mountains.”

“And his name?”

“Police Inspector John Duff. Formerly of Braemar Police Mountain Rescue.”

“He’s a policeman, aye?”

“He was.”

“What else did he do?”

“I think we need rescued.”

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