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flavour with Piia Kleemola, an of their time on fund raising,
accomplished Finnish fiddler, rather than strategy and providing
who focussed on Southern music and tourism for Edinburgh.
Ostrobothnia polkas. Her own Like many councils Edinburgh
compositions combined traditional is looking for ‘full cost recovery’
Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish on its venues so the rental has
styles. A great find for me was doubled in the recent past.
‘Habbadam’, a trio of fiddle, Predictably available support from
FIDDLE 2008, 21-23 November soprano sax and guitar, who other funds has not kept pace
Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh recently won the Danish Folk with these rises. The results of
Music Debut of the Year. A unique the efforts by the Festival team
blend of old and new, this young (and the reputation the festival
group had a stage presence well has built) are therefore always
beyond their years, and could fragile. It is to be sincerely hoped
well trigger an interest in a style of that Edinburgh Council come to
playing not well known on these realise that, in terms of value for
shores. money, any grant would be repaid
many times over by the resulting
The final concert of the weekend business that the festival brings
closed appropriately and boldly to the City. It would be a shame if
with an Irish solo fiddler. Kevin Edinburgh lost a shining example
Burke is the leading exponent of of what can be achieved by a
a highly ornamented Sligo style. voluntary group.
Yet his playing is thoughtful,
measured and expressive and he The venue is, in most ways,
‘brings an element of joy to even perfect for the occasion. Such a
the most plaintive melody.’ For busy – but not frenetic - schedule
a cash strapped festival to bring of varied events ideally needs to
‘one of the greatest Celtic fiddlers be in the same building. Given
alive’ (New York Times) on board Scottish November weather the
was a great coup! fact that visitors and musicians
do not have to traipse to different
The weekend was packed with places makes an enormous
classes, sessions and a ceilidh, difference to the ambience of the
and ensured that musicians event!
and listeners alike had a great
Is Fiddle fest each year in a fiddler who pleases the crowd time! The classes are always There have been concerns
Edinburgh the largest UK at any pace, she is at her most fascinating, drawing on the that the young are not being
annual gathering of fiddlers effective and plangent playing international performers who teach attracted to traditional music in
and fiddle music aficionados? of tunes such as Ivan Drever’s their speciality eg Asturian music, enough numbers to ensure its
Fiddle 2008 attracted more lovely, lingering ‘Leaving Stour’ playing with pipes. Sometimes healthy future. This is one event
than 4000 visitors. Although and she played the most moving a tyro finds that everyone else which brings youngsters out in
clearly the majority were from rendition I’ve heard of one of my in the class has been playing force. The effect of improved
the Central belt, groups came all-time favourites ‘Hector the for years, but it always seems to and changed policies in some
from as far away as Cowal, Hero’. Jenna has played in such work. Speaking of which, there education areas, the growth of
Aberdeen, Shetlands and the high-powered traditional bands as are formal slow sessions and very fiddle workshops teaching in and
Orkneys, as well as many Deaf Shepherd, Fiddler’s Bid and slow sessions, which encourage out of schools, and the popularity
visitors from England. They Dochas. Her other main band, those of us who can’t measure up of the Youth Gaithering, were
took part in an exceptional Filska, are onto their fourth album, to the cracking pace set by the clearly in evidence this weekend.
weekend of concerts, recitals, and clearly show the influences youngsters in the sessions in the Youngsters from around Scotland
workshops, talks and sessions. of Jenna’s early tuition from two common area and elsewhere. The had a rare opportunity to play
This was not just a festival for giants of the Shetland fiddle ceilidh is always well supported. with their peers, session with their
players. Non players had a rare tradition – Tom Anderson and If I had any criticism at all of this elders and hear top quality live
opportunity to hear fourteen Willie Hunter. festival (which I don’t) it’s the music from around the world.
concerts and recitals of the plaintiff cry that there’s so much If it did nothing else to promote
highest calibre from home The festival was my first exposure on, you can’t do everything. traditional music, the Festival
grown and foreign talent. to ‘The Chair’ from Orkney. Their For instance the main session deserves a secure future for that
comment – albeit a little tongue starts while the Saturday night alone.
The Scots Fiddle Festival Musical in cheek - on opening the ‘Manly concert is still in full swing, and
Director, Eilidh Steel, put on a Set’ may set the scene for their I’m constantly torn between the Apart from outstanding music,
near perfect structure of music high energy ‘stomp’ music: ‘We’re attractions of the recital hall and the Festival has developed and
and events for the weekend. not into namby-pamby, pinkie in the sessions and classes. delivered something unusual
A programme which should the air Edinburgh tunes; we like – an urban event with a sense of
have appealed to all strands of music that puts hairs on your One thing I was amazed to find community. Truly a Fellowship of
‘traditional’ music enthusiasts, crochets!’ The audience reacted out was that a festival of this size The Fiddle.
without somehow falling into the phenomenally with an unusual and stature is run entirely by
trap of being seen to try to please level of dancing in the aisles. volunteers. A committee of ten Details of Fiddle 2009 will
everyone, and then falling firmly Even the staunchest traditionalists work throughout the year, and are soon be available at
between two stools! could not resist foot tapping and joined by seventy volunteers from www.scotsfiddlefestival.com
clapping along. Clearly this is a around the country (and even
The opening ‘Heat the Hoose’ band who will hit the festival trail in from London) for the weekend. Mark Morpurgo
concert epitomised two main a big way.
strands of our vibrant music. The Like many music and arts groups, Mark Morpurgo helps run
now well established Jenna Reid Recitals over the weekend the Festival organisers have to Lochgoilhead Fiddle Workshop
Band opened the concert. Always included a great international spend an increasing percentage www.fiddleworkshop.co.uk
The Living Tradition - Page 63
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