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Island gathering

The Orkney Gathering at the premier concert at Orkney's folk festival in 2011

AN EXTRAORDINARY mix of musical talent from the northern isles will gather on stage for a special event during this year’s Shetland Folk Festival.

Musical directors Douglas Montgomery and Margaret Scollay are bringing together 12 musicians each from Orkney and Shetland for The Isles Gathering.

Inspired by The Orkney Gathering, which wowed audiences at this year’s Celtic Connections in Glasgow, the folk festival event will feature many of the original musicians.

These include from Orkney, veteran “moothie” ace Billy Jolly, BBC Radio Scotland young traditional musician of the year Kristan Harvey, accordion whizz Billy Peace and much-loved singer songwriter Kris Drever, of Lau.

Shetland’s contributors range from teenage fiddle star Liza Fullerton to dance band legends Jim Halcrow and Peter Wood.

Others include Shoormal singer songwriter Freda Leask, and young Väir members Lewie Peterson and Ryan Couper.

There will even be two joint citizens – Shetland born Orkney resident Jenny Keldie and Orcadian Fiddlers’ Bid member Andrew Gifford.

Rehearsals for the musicians, many who will meet for the first time, start the day before the first concert at Lerwick’s Mareel on 4 May.

The 24 strong house band will perform three weeks later at Kirkwall’s Pickaquoy Centre Arena on 24 May.

Montgomery said he couldn’t wait for the two concerts.

“I’ve been immersing myself in as much Orkney and Shetland music as I can lay my hands on recently, and Margaret and I have come up with some pretty exciting ideas for the programme.”

Scollay added that there would some special guests to add to the mix.

“There’s a real mixture of seasoned players with an injection of youth, giving the chance for the two island groups to pull together some real one-off performances.”

New additions to the folk festival line up this year include BBC Radio Scotland young traditional musician of the year Paddy Callaghan on accordion, playing with flautist Danny Boyle and Adam Brown on bodhrán.

Joining them are three-piece Fionia Stringband, all from the Danish Island of Fuen, featuring Jes Kroman who is no stranger to Shetland along with fellow fiddler Michael Graubæk and pianist Theis Juul Langlands.

Advance membership closes on 28 February, tickets for members go on sale mid March and for others on 5 April.

All details at http://www.shetlandfolkfestival.com