Pushing musical boundaries

SHETLAND is about to see the launch of a new youth “super group”, according to Shetland Arts music development officer Bryan Peterson.

Under the tutelage of musicians Harris Playfair and Margaret Scollay the group will feature some of the islands’ finest young musicians and focus on material which spans jazz and traditional Shetland music with ‘big band’ style arrangements.


The as yet unnamed group will feature around 25 musicians including Young Fiddler of the Year Liza Fullerton and jazz saxophonist Norman Wilmore.

The group will meet for the first time this Wednesday, as part of a series of five intensive daylong workshops, to arrange and rehearse material composed by Playfair especially for the group.

Their debut performance is planned at the opening concert of this year’s Fiddle Frenzy festival on Monday 9th August, at the Garrison Theatre.

Harris Playfair is one of Shetland’s most innovative musicians and musical directors and the driving force behind youth music ensemble such as the “Ceol Mor” Trad Big Band, part of the Aberdeen International Youth Festival and the “Sunshine Coast Trad Band” in B.C., Canada.


Playfair will be working alongside Margaret Scollay, one of Shetland’s most experienced traditional music teachers and young tutors including Ryan Couper on guitar and Victoria Laurenson on accordion.

Mr Peterson said: “Harris has a proven track record of producing astonishing results with groups of young musicians.

“He has a deep understanding and appreciation of jazz and traditional Shetland styles, and the links between the two.

“It is a great opportunity for our young musicians to be part of an exciting and progressive ensemble, and for audiences to hear inventive new material and the results of Harris’ rigorous workshops.”


Mr Playfair said: “What the project hopes to achieve is to establish a collective of young musicians which pushes many musical boundaries and gives the participants an invaluable range of experiences, both collectively and individually, and also helps to make them aware of just how exciting the potential of being part of such a creative ensemble can be.”

The main source of the material used will be traditional and contemporary melodies with multi textured arrangements influenced by the jazz big band idiom. The project is part funded by the Scottish Arts Council’s Jazz Development Fund.

Tickets for the performance are available from Shetland Box Office, Islesburgh Community Centre, Lerwick – 01595 745 555