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Arts / Young musicians tuning up as fiddle competition prepares to return

2019 Junior and Intermediate winners Evie Wiliamson, Maisie Henderson, Gracie Gowans-Little, Holly Anderson and Jayden Moore. Photo: Shetland Folk Society

THE SHETLAND Young Fiddler of the Year contest is making a welcome return after last taking place in 2019.

The event will take place at Mareel in Lerwick on 24 and 25 September.

The competition was cancelled in April 2020 and postponed in April 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shetland Folk Society secretary Valerie Watt said: “It will be a delight to welcome our young fiddlers back to the competition.

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“Live music has been such a miss over the past eighteen months and each and every entry from the 67 fiddlers taking part will be a welcome reminder of why we love to hear live performance.

“We’re taking measures to ensure the competition is safe.

“Covid protocols for live entertainment will be in place and we are organising competitors in school groups to minimise contact between schools.”

Watt said organisers are also asking fiddlers to perform both their sets of tunes one after the other so they are on stage once.

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This should keep the number of fiddlers backstage to a minimum throughout the competition.

The competition will be adjudicated by Jennifer Wrigley, John Robert Deyell and Stella Wilkie.

Orcadian fiddler Wrigley is returning to judge for a third year.

“It was so disappointing that last year’s competition had to be cancelled, so it’s doubly exciting to once again be asked north for this special event,” she said.

“It’s a privilege to be involved and hear the progress of all the fantastic young talent that Shetland offers.

“You make it so tough to pick a winner because the standard of musicianship is always so high.”

Local fiddler John Robert Deyell added: “I’m delighted to be back judging, especially after all that Covid has done to restrict us over the last year.

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“I’m looking forward to hearing all the bairns again, we have such a wealth of talent here in Shetland and they will be delighted be back playing to an audience.”

Meanwhile Fife fiddler Stella Wilkie joins the adjudicator line-up for the first time.

She said she is “honoured and excited to be one of the judges at this prestigious competition”.

Junior fiddlers (P7 and under) will compete on the Friday morning and intermediate fiddlers (S1-2) follow that afternoon.

Senior fiddlers (S3-S5) will then compete on the Saturday morning.

The Shetland Young Fiddler concert will be held at 7.30pm on Saturday 25 September.

Senior finalists will perform for the adjudicators for the final time.

Violet Tulloch, Debbie Scott and Bryan Gear will also perform the prize winning compositions from the Shetland Folk Society Tune Competition.

Junior and Intermediate winners will then share their prize winning performances and Ashley Hay will give her final performance as Shetland Young Fiddler of the Year 2019 before the title is passed onto the new winner.

Concert tickets go on sale at Mareel on Friday (10 September).

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