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MUSIC FESTIVALS - MUSIC FESTIVALS - MUSIC FESTIVALS - MUSIC FESTIVALS Fiddle 2011 18 + 20 November - Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

Fiddle 2011, Edinburgh’s annual week-end of top traditional music, is nearly upon us! Here’s everything you might need to know.

This is the sixteenth annual festival. We started with Fiddle 96 and have continued every November since without a break. The event grew around its famous venue, Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms in George Street. Every inch of every room was used for something, concerts, cabarets, workshops, master classes, sessions (where anyone can join in), eating and drinking, an exhibition / stalls area, late night events including lively ceilidhs. From Friday evening to Sunday tea time; all under one roof. Well, almost all: for the past few years the festival has included Pete Clark’s “fiddle walk” through the streets (and possibly some pit stops) of Edinburgh.

We like to think that our festival was the event for which this finest New Town building was built.

So, when Edinburgh Council decided on a major refurbishment, putting the Assembly Rooms out of use for a while, we had to find an alternative venue. This proved to be a challenge and we are delighted that this year’s event is going ahead at the Queen’s Hall, home of many fine concerts. To make sure that the programme ingredients are the same as ever, we have had to spill over the street to the nearby King’s Hall, and the ceilidhs will be a short walk away, at South Hall in Pollock Halls.

Fiddle 2011 is very much in business. In fact, spaces in our workshop events are selling fast.

Fiddle 2011, also known as the “Fiddle Festival”, is run by the Scots Fiddle Festival Ltd, a volunteer-run organisation. There is a huge overlap between the fiddle festival, the Edinburgh-based Scots Music Group (a fantastic organisation that runs classes for people, especially adult learners, to learn to play, sing, or dance to traditional music), and the Youth Gaitherin’.

There has been a massive increase in participation in traditional music in the past forty years. The more young people who learn to play, the more aspiring young musicians there are, leading to more up-and-coming young bands, and an ever-increasing pool of established performers. People enter this flow at any age; there has been an upsurge of adult learners of / returners to traditional music.

The fiddle festival provides a showcase for all of this.

Concerts feature established, international musicians (such as, this year, Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas, Duncan Chisholm and Tony Byrne), up and coming bands (Tyde and Breabach) and also the pick of the stars of tomorrow (Kristan Harvey is the current BBC Scottish Young Traditional Musician of the Year)

Workshops give the opportunity for adult learners to learn new skills and new tunes from our performers

The Youth Gaitherin’ runs a parallel programme, including workshops, for younger musicians (mainly to spare the adults’ blushes)

You don’t have to be a musician to enjoy the event; you can listen to music all day from morning to, well, morning in fact

And there are interesting stalls, stimulating talks on a wide range of subjects, ceilidhs, and plenty time just to hang out, meet old friends and make new ones

The title Scots Fiddle Festival can be a bit misleading.

Is it a Festival devoted to Scots Fiddle music, or a festival featuring fiddle music that happens to take place in Scotland? Actually, it’s a bit of both. Scots fiddle music takes up a large part of the programme, but there’s such a wide range from the distinctive dotted- rhythms of the North East, the pipe-mimicking sounds of the West Highlands, the syncopated Shetland style that’s almost jazz, the distinguished compositions of Gow and Skinner, beautiful slow airs and waltzes, and lively reels.


As well as Scottish music, this year’s performers have Scandinavian, American, Spanish, English, Irish and Antipodean influences. As well as the fiddle, there will be plenty of other instruments played, not to mention some singing and dancing.


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