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Arts / Spence thankful after reaching semi-finals of BBC traditional music competition

George Spence performing at the semi-finals. Photo: BBC Radio Scotland/Martin Shields

A SHETLAND fiddler says he had a “great but nerve-wracking experience” featuring in the semi-finals of the BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year competition.

Whilst George Spence did not make it to the finals, the 20-year-old said he is pleased to have made it as far as the semis.

The semi-final saw the cream of Scotland’s young trad talent perform in Glasgow earlier this month, with the show broadcast on TV. It is available to watch back on BBC iPlayer.

The competition is fairly prestigious, and last year’s winner was Shetland pianist Amy Laurenson.

Spence, who is the son of well-known Shetland fiddler Steven Spence and currently lives in Glasgow, said he had a “lovely day meeting and being surrounded by so many talented musicians”.

“Although I didn’t make it through to the final, I thought it was a great experience and I am very happy I made it as far as the semi-finals,” he said.

“Of course there were a lot of pressure on as it was for a competition and on TV, but the day was made much easier by the company of the other competitors, who were a lovely bunch of people and we all had a great fun back stage.”

Spence said he has been playing fiddle for around 12 years, starting off with some lessons with his dad before being taught by Pauline Wiseman, Lois Nicol and Kirsten Hendry in school.

“All three were fantastic teachers and all taught me different styles and ways of playing the fiddle,” he said.

“I also had a lot of help from my dad who always strived for me to play better – and often more lively!”

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