Fiddle commissioned for National Museums Scotland to be tried out in lunchtime concert

The fiddle has been made by Ewen Thomson. Click on image to enlarge.
The fiddle has been made by Ewen Thomson. Click on image to enlarge.

Shetland’s finest young musical talent will play a fiddle specially commissioned by National Museums Scotland in the Shetland Museum at 1.15pm on Thursday.

National Museums Scotland commissioned Shetland fiddle-maker Ewen Thomson to create the fiddle for display in the Performance and Lives gallery of the redeveloped National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh when it re-opens in 2011.

The new gallery will explore performance traditions across the world including a focus upon the musical traditions of Scotland. The Scottish fiddle tradition is rich and varied with the skills of its makers, composers and players passed down through the centuries. Contemporary musicians explore their traditional roots, take inspiration from current musical trends and create their own new sound.

The concert features Anderson High School pupils Danny Garrick, Chapman Cheng, Kaela Jamieson, Maggie Adamson, Ryan Stevenson and Ryan Couper, all winners of the prestigious Young Fiddler of the Year competition.

The free performance provides an opportunity for Shetlanders to hear and enjoy the instrument in their own community before it becomes a permanent attraction at the National Museum.

National Museums assistant curator of ethnomusicology Susan Lewandowski said: “We are thrilled to have one of Ewen’s fiddles in the national collections. His work is held in high esteem by some of Scotland’s finest musicians.

“This commission represents a fantastic opportunity to capture just one strand of a vibrant contemporary music scene which has roots imbedded in a rich and long-reaching tradition.”

Ewen was born in Fair Isleand raised in a musical family. At the age of 16 he trained in violin-making and proceeded to set up his own workshop making and restoring violins, violas and cellos. Inspired by the landscape around him, he incorporates a little of his surroundings into his fiddles, making his own varnish from local materials.

Ewen said: “I can’t quite believe that my fiddle is to be displayed in the National Museum of Scotland. I’m delighted that Shetland’s musical tradition will be represented in the new gallery and hope that millions of visitors from home and abroad will enjoy seeing it.”

The £46 million Royal Museum Project will transform the National Museum of Scotland site in Chambers Street, Edinburgh into a 21st century museum experience. The project will see the creation of 16 new galleries, two hands-on discovery centres, a larger gallery for international touring exhibitions, new facilities for education and a state of the art learning centre to inspire visitors of all ages.


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