Shetland’s 28th Young Fiddler of the Year is Chapman Cheng from Gulberwick. He won the title at the Garrison Theatre on Saturday night at the end of a two-day competition.
A big audience sat in growing excitement as adjudicators Bryan Gear, Ian Hardie and John Hutchison heard 10 finalists in two open competitions. In all, 80 youngsters from all over Shetland took part, with six competitions in three different age groups. The event is organised by the Shetland Folk Society.
While Chapman, 16, won, the runners up were Danny Garrick of Griesta and Rowan Thomson from Girlsta. In the traditional open competition Danny took first prize; Martha Thomson from Channerwick was runner up and Liza Fullerton of Lerwick was placed third.
Asked how he felt to have won the competition, Chapman said: “[It’s] really good, I’m over the moon!”
He said he had “slight nerves” before the competition but all his preparation paid off: “I put in some effort and really tried my best so I expected to win.”
Chapman played three tunes for the competition: the slow air Fiddler from Lunnaness by Davie Keith, Jubilee by Gideon Stove and Old Willie Hunter by Ronnie Cooper.
Although he really enjoys playing traditional music, Chapman said he prefers playing classical and hopes to play with an orchestra some day.
The event began on Friday morning with the intermediate competitions for entrants in primary seven and secondary one. Hannah Adamson from Cunningsburgh came in ahead of Harry Thomson from Channerwick and Kim Johnson from Tingwall in the traditional section to win the Shetland Musical Heritage Cup.
Hannah also took honours in the young fiddler section to win the Ian Burns Memorial Trophy; Kim Johnson and Harry Thomson were second and third respectively.
The junior players, from primary six and under, took to the stage on Friday afternoon. Players from sooth-ower were, again, to the forefront with two 10 year olds sharing the silverware. Fraser Tait from Sandwick came first in the traditional junior section, winning the Tom Anderson Memorial Trophy ahead of Sophie Moar of Cunningsburgh and Konrad Craigie from Bridge-End.
In the following young fiddler junior section Sophie came first, winning the Shetland School of Music Trophy; Fraser was runner-up and Christopher Jarmson, from Lerwick, was placed third.
Twenty young players from secondary two, three and four came to the Garrison on Saturday morning for the two open competitions and by lunchtime the two finalists were chosen; four from the traditional entrants and six in the young fiddler section.
The final session began at 7.30pm with performances from the winners and runners-up from Friday before the finalists played their set of tunes for the adjudicators. Maggie Adamson, Shetland’s Young Fiddler of 2008, then performed for the last time as holder of the title.
After the interval, secretary Charlie Simpson gave the results of the society’s annual tune competition, judged by Debbie Scott and Violet Tulloch. Sadly there were too few entries in the junior section this year, so no prizes were awarded. In the senior section, the John Pottinger Memorial Shield went to Mary Rutherford from Gletness; Christine Hughson from Bressay gained both second and third prizes.
Kirsten Napier from Uyeasound took the David Hall Memorial Shield for best tune in the Shetland idiom. The winning tunes were played by a unique trio – adjudicators Bryan Gear and Ian Hardie accompanied by Violet Tulloch.
This concluded yet another excellent two days of competition and a splendid evening of accomplished fiddle playing, leaving only the final results to be announced by compere Caroline Moyes.
The various prizes were presented by Violet Tulloch and the tension and excitement mounted. In the traditional final Martha Thomson was declared runner-up and Danny Garrick was recipient of the Fiddler’s Society Cup. Callum Williamson from Lerwick was awarded the Martin Laurenson Trophy for best slow air in the young fiddler competition and Rowan Thomson was placed third, followed by Danny Garrick as runner-up.
Finally, to great applause Chapman Cheng was declared Young Fiddler of the Year and stepped up to received the Frank Jamieson Memorial Trophy and the society prize.The adjudicators gave their comments on the competition with praise and advice to the competitors for their efforts, and they also expressed particular satisfaction with the quality of the traditional competitions.
Society president Douglas Sinclair brought the evening to a close thanking the event’s funding bodies and all those whose efforts had contributed towards another memorable competition.