Had a great weekend at the Scots fiddle festival 2011! Fantastic musicians, concerts, talks and workshops. I went to both concerts on Friday and Saturday night. On Friday I saw the band Tyde. They played a lot of their own material which I really liked. Duncan Chislholm (fiddle) and Tony Byrne (acoustic) played an amazing set. Duncan Chisholm is a fantastic fiddler (plays in Wolfstone and in Julie Fowlis' Band). He also has a great solo career and must be one of the best slow air players in the world. The tone he achieves is truly incredible and his bowing is so expressive. He plays with a wide vibrato and he learned from the great Donald Riddell (piper and fiddler). Tony Byrne accompanied on guitar and was as good! They had great musical empathy with each other. Phil Cunningham watched on from the side as Duncan Chisholm played one of his tunes.
Rona and Marit
One of the highlights of Friday for me was Rona Wilkie and Marit Fält. They played in the Festival club after the main programme and were fantastic. They played an interesting mix of Scandanavian and UK trad music. Rona is a fiddler and is officially a finalist at BBC Scotland Young trad musician 2012. She will be performing with Marit as an accompianist on February 3 at City Halls, Glasgow. Here is a link to their Myspace page.
Saturday's concert was also really enjoyable with Breacbach . Meg Henderson (fiddler from the Lochaber area) has joined them recently. Great piping, singing and step dancing too.
Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas were the main act. I saw them both about five years ago - just after they started playing together. I enjoyed this performance far more. Natalie Haas has really settled into the style and plays her cello with ringing strings, and great rhythms. The tune of the Festival seemed to be The Farley Bridge written by Duncan Chisholm with at least three bands playing it - great tune.
I took the opportunity to attend some of the workshops on offer. Its a good way to learn both some technique and tunes. On Saturday I went to Duncan's Chisholm's workshop on slow air playing. He had five "secrets". Cross over bowing, pressure on the bow, sliding, vibrato, third position and grace notes. He was great teacher and we played the beautiful tune "Lullaby to Gael".
I also went to Catriona MacDonald's workshop and learned more about Shetland bowing. Difficult very old tune. Vamm (Catriona MacDonald's new band) are playing it.
Alasdair Fraser's workshop was also interesting with work on rythymns.
I also went to Anna Wendy Stevenson's class on harmony and Meg Henderson's on Sunday. Finally I also went to a talk on hardanger tunings (there are about 40)!.
I only saw some of what was on over the weekend. There was lots more which I would have loved to see but couldn't be in two places at once!. It was great weekend - two days of playing, listening and learning. Didn't get to bed until after 2 am. Roll on next year!
Join the Fiddle Festival as a member if you are interested. Here's a link.