Tag Archives: fiddle

Artist Profiles: Filska

Filska

Filska is a band from the Shetland Islands, who built their music on the Islands tradition of fiddle playing. The word Filska comes from the Shetland dialect, and means mischievous and high-spirited. The line up includes sisters Jenna (Fiddle/Accordion/Vocals) and Bethany Reid (Fiddle/Piano/Vocals), Gemma Wilson (Fiddle/Vocals) and Andrew Tulloch (Guitar/Vocals).

As girls, they grew up together playing traditional Shetland music through the encouragement of Jenna and Bethany’s mother, Joyce Reid. Throughout their upbringing, the late, great fiddlers Tom Anderson and Willie Hunter taught the girls. They also had tuition from Eunice Henderson, Margaret Scollay and Trevor Hunter. Under this fine direction, they each went on to become prominent prize-winners of Shetland’s Young Fiddler of the Year competition.

In 1995, the band recorded their debut album, titled Harvest Home. The album included traditional material from Shetland, Scotland and Ireland, and confirmed their musical talents from an early age. Following the success of this recording, Filska began to perform increasingly on the Mainland of Scotland at various concerts and festivals. Subsequently, Filska were invited to perform on the Grampian TV traditional music program Ceol na Fidhle, recorded live at Coo Cathedral, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire.

The band returned to the studio in 1998 to record their second album Time and Tide. Shetland singer, guitarist and recording engineer Andrew Tulloch, recorded the album and played guitar on the recording. Before long, Tulloch was a member of the band. Time and Tide introduced the band to a much wider audience, and their line up of three fiddles, guitar, accordion, piano and vocals delighted audiences throughout Ireland, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Canada and the States. Filska’s trip to the USA came as an invitation to perform at the millennium celebrations held in the Epcot Centre, Florida. On their return to the U.K., Filska performed as finalists in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award in London.

Since the release of their second album, Filska has integrated an increasing amount of original tunes and songs to their set, as well as performing their own native music. This approach to traditional, Shetland and contemporary tunes is what gives Filska their highly unique and innovative sound.

Discography:

Harvest Home (1995)

Time and Tide (1998)

A Thousand Miles Away (Foot Stomping CDFSR1723, 2003)

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Artist Profiles: Fiddlers’ Bid

Fiddlers’ Bid

Fiddlers’ Bid is internationally respected as a leading exponent of their unique musical heritage and rich fiddle tradition. Global ambassadors for Shetland, this dynamic four-fiddle front line joins with a powerhouse of piano, bass, guitar and Scottish harp to create a ‘display of stunning virtuosity’.

Since their formation in 1991, the “flying fiddles and furious talent” of Fiddlers’ Bid have astounded audiences all over the world with their expressive, high energy music and performance.

Fiddlers’ Bid have performed at some of the largest folk festivals in the world including the 2003 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in USA and have had two hugely successful tours of Australia and Tasmania, performing at the Melbourne Concert Hall and Sydney Opera House. One tour earned the band a nomination for Best Contemporary Music Presentation at a national music award ceremony in Australia.

Their album Da Farder Ben Da Welcomer was the Greentrax best-selling album of 2002 and Naked and Bare received acclaimed reviews.

Discography:

Around the World (Fiddlers’ Bid, 1994)

Hamnataing (Greentrax Recordings, 1998)

Da Farder Ben Da Welcomer (Greentrax Recordings, 2001)

Naked and Bare (Greentrax Recordings, 2005)

All Dressed in Yellow (2009)

website: http://www.fiddlersbid.com

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Artist Profiles: Eileen Ivers

Eileen Ivers – Photo by Patrick McBride

Eileen Ivers – The musical star of Riverdance and currently a sensation in Europe, Eileen Ivers is the most successful American-born competitor in the history of the all-Ireland championships. Along with her thirty medals, Eileen Ivers won seven All-Ireland fiddle titles and an eighth on the tenor banjo. The native New Yorker displays a breathtaking technical range and refreshing choice of repertoire.

Born in the Irish community of the Bronx, New York, Eileen Ivers began playing fiddle at the age of eight and eventually studied with famed Limerick-born fiddler Martin Mulvihill.

As an Irish-American raised in an ethnically diverse Bronx neighborhood, Eileen was forever intrigued by the multicultural sounds of her childhood environs. After graduating magna cum laude in Mathematics from lona College, Eileen passionately immersed herself in the myriad of musical genres that had once filled her young ears. Perhaps it was the mathematical mind coupled with her passion for seeking parallels in certain traditional music styles that contributed to what has become Eileen’s signature sound: A beautiful and enthralling melange clearly grounded in traditional Irish music that embraces the rhythms of African. Latin and American roots music in a natural way.

Eileen Ivers in 2006

Eileen was a founding member of the all-woman Celtic folk group Cherish the Ladies and has been a member of such notable bands as, Hall and Oates, The Green Fields of America, and Chanting House before joining the World Wide hit show Riverdance.

On her album Crossing the Bridge, Ivers collaborated with a broad array of celebrated world-music performers, including John Doyle and Seamus Egan of Solás, Bakithi Kumalo (heard on Paul Simon’s Graceland album), Joanie Madden of Cherish The Ladies, and jazz artists Eddie Gomez and Randy Brecker.

In 1999 Eileen established a touring production company in New York City to present the music which now encompasses Eileen Ivers and her band, Immigrant Soul. This mix of African and Latin percussion and bass, Irish instrumentalists, and American soulful vocals is privileged to appear at major performing arts centers, guest with numerous symphonies is true to the heart of Irish music while embracing the multiculturalism of American life.

Discography:

Eileen Ivers (Green Linnet 1139, 1994)

Wild Blue (Green Linnet 1166, 1996)

So Far – The Eileen Ivers Collection 1979-1995 (Green Linnet 1185, 1997)

Titanic (Sony Classical SK 6691)

Crossing the Bridge (Sony Classical SK 6746, 1999)

Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul ( Koch CD-8494, 2003)

An Nollaig: An Irish Christmas (2007)

www.eileenivers.com

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Artist Profiles: Darol Anger

Darol Anger

Violinist, composer, producer and educator Darol Anger is at home in a number of musical genres some of which he helped to invent. With the jazz-oriented Turtle Island String Quartet Anger developed and popularized new techniques for playing contemporary music styles on string instruments. The masterful Chambergrass groups Psychograss and Newgrange and the plugged-in Anger-Marshall Band feature his compositions and arrangements. His acclaimed folk-jazz group Montreux was the original musical model for the New Adult Contemporary radio format. The David Grisman Quintet forged a new genre of acoustic string band music with Darol’s creative use of the violin.

Working with some of the world’s great improvising string musicians, among them Stephane Grappelli, Mark O’Connor, Bela Fleck, David Grisman and Vassar Clements, has contributed to the development of Anger’s signature voice both as player and composer. His published works include jazz originals and arrangements a fiddle tune collection and of course recordings. Anger has produced dozens of critically praised recordings since 1977 which have featured his compositions and performances. Highlights include the Heritage Folk Music project that brings together some of the most important voices in the traditional contemporary folk and bluegrass music scene; the Anger-Marshall Band’s JAM and Brand New Can which set new standards for the Newgrass/jazz genre; and his release Diary Of A Fiddler which sets Anger in duet with the most prominent and innovative fiddlers of our time.

Anger holds the String Chair of the International Association of Jazz Educators. He has led seminars at the Stanford Oberlin and Amherst Jazz Worshops regularly teaches at the Berklee School of Music and the Mark O’Connor Fiddle Camp and at workshops and clinics from Campo Do Jordao Brazil to the Music Conservatory at Bremen Germany. He is a Contributing Editor for Strings magazine and is on the ASTA Editorial Board.

The recipient of a 1995 California Arts Council Composer Fellowship, Anger was nominated in 1997 for the CalArts Alpert Award in the Arts. He has been a featured soloist on a number of motion picture soundtracks and he wrote and performed the score for the Sundance Award-winning film Best Offer. He was the winner of the Frets Magazine Readers’ Poll for Best Jazz Violinist for four years running.

Anger’s work has expanded not only the acoustic violin’s boundaries but has contributed to the development of violin synthesizer repertoire and technology. His writings on these subjects and string education issues appear regularly in prominent music periodicals and on the Web. His current projects include Darol Anger and His Jazz Guys is a working group featuring fellow S.F. Bay Area residents a duet recording with pianist Phillip Aaberg and Fiddlers 4 with Michael Doucet, Bruce Molsky and Rushad Eggleston in 2002; and a collaboration with Swedish group Vasen.

Discography

Fiddlistics (1981)
Tideline, with Barbara Higbie (1982)
Live at Montreux ’84 (1984)
Chiaroscuro (1985)
The Duo with Mike Marshall (1988)
Jazz Violin Celebration (1988)
Heritage (1996)
Like Minds (1997)
At Home and On The Range (1997)
Christmas Heritage (1998)
Jam (1999)
Diary of a Fiddler (1999)
Brand New Can (2000)
Now Hear This with Psychograss (21)
Republic Of Strings (2005)
Generation Nation (2007)
Woodshop (2007)
Mike Marshall and Darol Anger with Vasen (2007)
Cross Time, with Philip Aaberg (2008)
Eand’a (2014)

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Artist Profiles: Courtney Granger

Courtney Granger

Courtney Granger is a virtuoso fiddler, guitarist and outstanding singer. He was born in Eunice, Louisiana. Granger is Christine Balfa’s cousin and was the youngest member of Balfa Toujours. He recorded his debut CD for Rounder Records at the age of 15. He quickly became a reputable musician in the Cajun music scene and received several Cajun French Music association (CFMA) awards.

In 1999 Courtney joined Balfa Toujours on bass and fiddle playing together with the great Kevin Wimmer. Courtney also recorded with the legendary bluegrass musician Tim O’Brien.

Courtney’s repertoire includes Cajun and classic country tunes. His masterful fiddling and soulful singing has made him one of the most sought-after Cajun fiddlers, playing with renowned artists Jason Frey Dirk Powell and Horace Trahan. He joined the famous Cajun band The Pine Leaf Boys in summer 2008.

In 2016 he released Beneath Still Waters, his first solo country album.

Discography:

Un Bal Chez Balfa (Rounder, 1999)

Live at Whiskey River Landing, with Balfa Toujours (Rounder CD 696 2000)

Live at 2009 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, with The Pine Leaf Boys (2009)

Back Home, with The Pine Leaf Boys (Valcour Records, 2010)

Live at Jazzfest 2012, with The Pine Leaf Boys (2012)

Danser, with The Pine Leaf Boys (2013)

Beneath Still Waters (Valcour Records, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Chris Stout

Chris Stout

Shetland fiddler Chris Stout is one of the finest fiddlers of his generation in the UK. Stout was best known as a frontline member of Fiddlers’ Bid. His debut solo release First O’ the Darkenin’  however focused attention on his formidable individual talents at the helm of his own five-piece band winning him a nomination for Best Traditional Track at 2005’s Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Stout was born in Lerwick and grew up in Fair Isle until he was 7 years old “…where I caught my first glimpse of the fiddle when I was only 3! It was being played by my friend Ewan Thomson who was 7 years old at the time but has subsequently made the art of violin making his career. I now play two of his instruments a fiddle and viola.”

He played classical music at school and traditional music at home with his father who plays the accordion. “He took me to play at the Accordion and Fiddle clubs which was my introduction to traveling round the halls in Shetland and gave me my first performance experience.”

1990 was an important year for Stout. “I moved schools and became friendly with other young musicians who were mainly fiddle players. This group of youngsters were given the name ‘Fiddlers’ Bid’. They enjoyed frequent afternoon sessions possibly in place of classes such as Math or English with their teacher Willie Hunter. Countless concert experiences at coffee evenings and such like came rolling in.”

In the same year he won Shetland’s ‘Young Fiddler of the Year’ competition for his traditional fiddling. “I became Shetland’s ‘Young Musician of the Year’ for performing a classical repertoire. Having studied for a year with fiddle player Arthur Scott Robertson it was the advice of my classical tutor Teresa Mooreland that I should continue my studies on the mainland.”

In 1991 Stout gained a place at the music school of Douglas Academy in Glasgow where he studied for two additional years before gaining a place at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD). “During this time I played most weekends with the popular singing group ‘The Clydesiders’. This gave me a real appreciation and understanding of using the fiddle in an accompanying role to the voices. In retrospect it was probably my first opportunity to use the fiddle in an improvisatory style.”

Throughout his studies at the RSAMD he became more fascinated and excited by contemporary classical music. “As part of my degree I spent time working in an electro acoustic music studio. I completed my degree in classical violin and went on to do Masters in electro acoustic composition studying with the leading composer Alastair MacDonald. I was lucky enough to have one of my pieces released on a compilation CD of electro acoustic music featuring some of Britain’s top composers in this field.”

In 2000 Stout took part in a UK tour called ‘Fiddles on Fire’ with fiddlers Dezi Donnelly (Manchester) Eliza Carthy (England) and Susanne Lundeng (Norway). “This gave me my first independent break as a solo fiddle player on a national level.”

Stout has put this eclectic musical experience to good use. “I work with jazz musicians including London based trombonist Annie Whitehead drummer John Rae with his ‘Celtic Feet’ band saxophonist Phil Bancroft and ‘Orquestra Scotland Brasil’ 2003 collaboration.”

I am in demand as an electro acoustic composer. I composed a piece for Phil Bancroft in 2002 which was performed as part of the UK tour ‘Double Helix’. This was one of 3 professional commissions since leaving music college.”

Chris Stout’s quintet features Fraser Fifield (soprano saxophone) Catriona Mackay (harp piano) Malcolm Stitt (guitar) and Neil Harland (bass). The Quintet’s sound draws on the full breadth of Chris’ diverse skills and interests centered on his beloved Shetland traditions but weaving in a rich array of jazz and world-music influences.

In 2007 Stout released his solo album Devil’s Advocate.

Discography:

Around the World, with Fiddlers’ Bid (1994)

Hamnataing, with Fiddlers’ Bid (Greentrax, 1998)

Da Farder den Da Welcomer, with Fiddlers’ Bid (Greentrax, 2002)

First O’ the Darkenin’ (2004)

Naked and Bare, with Fiddlers’ Bid (Greentrax, 2005)

Laebrack, with Catriona McKay (2005)

Devil’s Advocate (Greentrax, 2007)

All Dressed in Yellow, with Fiddlers’ Bid (2009)

White Nights, with Catriona McKay (2010)

First O’ the Darkenin (Greentrax, 2011)

Chris Stout’s Brazilian Theory Live in Concert (2011)

Cauld Wind, with Finlay Macdonald (2013)

Seavaigers, with Catriona McKay (2014)

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Artist Profiles: Catriona MacDonald

Catriona MacDonald – Photo by Leila Angus

Catriona MacDonald began playing as a child back in 1981. Less than two years later, she took both the title of Young Fiddler of the Year in the annual Shetland Folk Society competition and the deputy leadership of a new fiddle group, Shetland’s Young Heritage, set up to help preserve Shetland traditional music and to help teach Shetland traditional fiddle to local school children. In 1991 her dexterity and presence became acknowledged on a wider stage, when she won the prestigious BBC Radio Two Young Tradition Award, a high profile competition featuring the cream of Britain’s young traditional players.

However, fiddle playing was not her only talent and at the age of eighteen, Catriona found herself studying voice at the Royal College of Music in London (where she met former playing partner accordionist Ian Lowthian). After graduating from four years study it was time to focus on Catriona’s first love the Shetland fiddle so she returned to Scotland and started her professional career.

Catriona has worked closely with accordionist Ian Lowthian and was behind a fantastic project the String Sisters premiered at Celtic Connections in January 2000, bringing together six of the most exciting female fiddle players in the world. String Sisters features a stellar international line up comprising Liz Carroll (USA), Liz Knowles (USA), Annbjorg Lien (Norway), Natalie MacMaster (Canada) and Altan’s Mairead ni Mhaonaigh (Ireland). Catriona was also a member of Blazin’ Fiddles.

Discography

Bold (2000)
The Old Style, with Blazin’ Fiddles (2004)
Magnificent Seven, with Blazin’ Fiddles (2005)
Live in Scotland, with The Unusual Suspects (2005)
Blazin’ Fiddles Live, with Blazin’ Fiddles(2007)
Over the Moon (2007)
Live, with String Sisters (2009)
Big Like This, with The Unusual Suspects (2010)
Thursday Night in the Caley, with Blazin’ Fiddles (2011)

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Artist Profiles: Cady Finlayson

Cady Finlayson

Cady Finlayson specializes in spirited Irish fiddle music with American Folk and World Music Influences.

From her first show in a small Irish pub in the U.S. Virgin Islands to her Carnegie Hall appearance for the New York Police Department (NYPD) Memorial Concert, Cady Finlayson has brought her spirited Irish fiddling to numerous venues throughout the United States.

Cady Finlayson received her Master of Music degree from Mannes College of Music and the President’s Award for Irish fiddle study at Blas World Music Centre in Limerick, Ireland.

Her Shines Like Silver was listed as one of the top 2 CDs of 2002 by WVPE. Recording credits include the soundtrack to Irish film Snakes and Ladders, baseball film Random Acts, the Peace on Earth Holiday Folk Tour with Judy Collins, and CDs for artists including Pierce Turner, Piper John Bradley and Holly Palmer.

Her all-star Irish band includes singer Honor Finnegan, guitar master Kyle Sanna and a driving rhythm section led by Tim Alworth. Her CD, Harp and Shamrock, celebrates her love of both traditional Irish music and American folk/world music percussion.

Discography:

Shines Like Silver (2002)
Harp and Shamrock (Violincaddy Music, 2004)
Irish Coffee (2007)
Electric Green, with Vita Tanga (2010)

www.cadyfinlayson.com

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Artist Profiles: Calum MacKinnon

Calum MacKinnon

Calum is from the island of Tiree in the Hebrides. He started learning the fiddle at an early age, from a neighbor, Willie Kemp, who studied with James Scott Skinner. He was runner-up at the 1988 US National Scottish Fiddle Championships, and returned to judge the Nationals in 1989, 1991, 1998 and 2001.

The irresistible energy and sensitivity of Calum’s playing has made him a highly sought-after performer and teacher. His busy performance schedule of concerts and workshops has taken him across the United States and Canada and to Scotland, England and Japan. Calum plays extensively for Scottish country dances across the US and Canada with his band, The Music of Spey that includes pianist Andy Imbrie and bass and cello player Ralph Gordon. He also plays frequently for dances with Muriel Johnstone, Scotland’s premier country dance pianist.

Calum performed with harper Sue Richards on her solo CDs, Grey Eyed Morn, and Hazel Grove, and on the highly popular Scottish country dance recording, Memories of Scottish Weekend, recorded live at the Ramblewood Scottish Weekend in 1998.

Discography:

It’s About Time, with Muriel Johnstone (Skerryvore Records, 2003)

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Artist profiles: Synnøve S. Bjørset

Synnøve S. Bjørset – Photo by Photo by Vegard Fimland

Synnøve S. Bjørset is one of the leading performers of traditional Hardanger fiddle music today. At her concerts she presents a collection of little-known tunes and recreations of familiar Norwegian standards, playing a wide range of scordatura (cross-tuning) tunings.

She regularly performs with fiddle group Majorstuen. Over the past few years, her performances have won her a series of awards.

Discography:

* Marylands (Heilo, 2001)
* RAM (NorCd, 2001)
* Kalvik Klassisk (2002)
* Majorstuen (2L, 2003)
* New North (Ozella/NorCd, 2004)
* Hardanger Fiddle (NorCd, 2004)
* Majorstuen, with Majorstuen (2L, 2002)
* Jorun Jogga, Majorstuen (MFC, 2004)
* Juledrøm, with Majorstuen (MFC, 2006)
* Slåttar (ta:lik, 2009)
* Jølster 2012 (ta:lik, 2012)

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