Cunningsburgh lass Laura Smith named Shetland’s Young Fiddler of the Year

Shetland’s Young Fiddler of 2012 is 14-year-old Laura Smith from Cunningsburgh, with Fraser Tait of Sandwick runner-up and Sophie Moar from Cunningsburgh and Callum Watt from Walls in joint third place.

In the Traditional Open competition Fraser Tait  took the honours, with Laura Smith runner-up and Sophie Moar in third place.

The 31st Young Fiddler of the Year competition, organised by Shetland Folk Society, reached its usual exciting conclusion in the Garrison Theatre on Saturday night.

A full audience, along with adjudicators Aly Bain, Gemma Donald and Maurice Henderson, heard 11 finalists in the two open competitions play their selections before the final decisions were made.  

The finals night was the culmination of two days of music from 92 youngsters from all over Shetland, in six competitions for three different age groups.  

This year’s competition began on Friday morning with the Intermediate competitions for players of Primary 7 and Secondary 1. Ming Sandford, 12, from Cullivoe, came first in the Young Fiddler Intermediate competition, taking the Ian Burns Memorial Trophy ahead of Lara Polson of Lerwick and Ellie Johnson from Muckle Roe. Ming also took home the Lell Robertson Memorial Trophy for playing the best waltz.

The Traditional Intermediate competition was won by Laura Brannan of Cunningsburgh who never faltered when a short power cut blacked out the auditorium. Laura missed neither a beat nor a note in a performance that gained  her the Shetland Musical Heritage Trust Cup, while Ming Sandford was runner-up and Katie Bain of Lerwick came third.

The Junior competitions for entrants from Primary 6 and under followed on Friday afternoon, where the Smith clan came to the forefront among the awards: 11-year-old Alana Smith from Weisdale, runner-up in both competitions in 2011, went one better this year and won them. She took the Shetland School of Music Trophy in the Young Fiddler Junior competition ahead of cousins Jasmin and Jodie Smith from Bigton, and in the Traditional Junior section she took the Tom Anderson Memorial Trophy ahead of Jodie Smith, with George Spence of Uyeasound in third place.   

Eighteen young players from Secondary 2, 3, and 4 came to the Garrison on Saturday morning for the two Open competitions, and by 1 o’clock the finalists were chosen: four from the Traditional entrants and seven in the Young Fiddler section. The final session began at 7.30, with compere Caroline Moyes introducing performances from the winners and runners-up from Friday, before the finalists played their sets of tunes again for the adjudicators. Hannah Adamson, Shetland’s Young Fiddler of 2011, then performed for the last time as holder of the title.  

After the interval, Folk Society secretary Charlie Simpson gave the results of the Society’s annual tune competiton, judged by Debbie Scott and Violet Tulloch, who declared it a very difficult task to pick winners from a big entry of excellent tunes. In the junior section, Hannah Adamson from Cunningsburgh won the Curly Jamieson Memorial Cup with a waltz and took second place for a reel, with third prize going to Lara Polson from Lerwick. Mary Rutherford from Eswick won the John Pottinger Memorial Shield in the Senior competition while a waltz and a reel from Christine Hughson of Bressay came in second and third. Steven Spence from Uyeasound was awarded the David Hall Memorial Shield  for best tune in the Shetland idiom. The winning tunes were played by Gemma Donald, accompanied by Violet Tulloch.

This concluded two days of excellent  competition and a splendid evening of accomplished fiddle-playing, leaving only the final results to be announced by Caroline Moyes. The various prizes were presented by Gemma Donald, completing her three-year stint as adjudicator. In the Traditional final Laura Smith was declared runner-up and Fraser Tait winner of the Fiddlers’ Society Cup.

Peter Kay from Whalsay was awarded the Martin Laurenson Trophy for best slow air in the Young Fiddler Open competition, before Sophie Moar and Callum Watt were named in joint third place, followed by Fraser Tait as runner-up. Finally, to great applause, Laura Smith was declared Young Fiddler of 2012, winner of the Frank Jamieson Memorial Trophy and the Folk Society Trophy.  

Aly Bain gave comments on behalf of the adjudicators with constructive advice to the competitors, concluded by expressing satisfaction with the enduring success of the competition and confidence in its future, with entries holding up well every year and good support by folk from all over Shetland. The completion of his and Gemma Donald’s three-year stints as adjudicators was marked with a presentation to them of the now customary Smirk cartoon.

Folk Society president Douglas Sinclair brought the evening to a close by thanking the event’s funding bodies for their support, and all those whose efforts had contributed towards another memorable competition.

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