New air composed for visit to Shetland of Scottish Fiddle Orchestra

The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra will perform a new air in tribute to former members from Shetland when it travels north later this month on its 30th anniversary tour.

The traditional orchestra’s director John Mason, from Orkney, has composed Silent Strings in tribute to Reesa McGinn, a former soloist, and Betty Henderson. A reworked version of his duet The Shetlander, a favourite of Reesa’s and Betty’s, will also feature at the concert at Clickimin on 20th July.

Guest performers on the night will be a group of young fiddlers and cellists formed for the occasion under the name of “Stradivarious”. The young players are all pupils of local instrumental teachers Alan Gifford, Bernadette Porter and Margaret Scollay at schools in the Lerwick area. Members of the group are looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity to play with the SFO.

Compere for the show will be Jim McColl, of the BBC’s Beechgrove Garden, a regular guest with the SFO.

Guest singers for all events will be Colette Ruddy (mezzo soprano) from Dundee and Dennis Haggerty (tenor) from Ayrshire. The SFO will be touring with its regular virtuoso guest piper, Keith Easdale.

The tour conductor will be Blair Parham, who has been sharing the role with John Mason over the last two years.

A spokesman said: “The world-renowned orchestra plans to delight the audiences with a lively mix of rhythmic music, interspersed with delicate slow airs, and well-known Scottish songs. The concerts will also feature some of John Mason’s numerous original compositions for which the SFO has become renowned. An additional highlight will undoubtedly be the SFO’s unique arrangement of Highland Cathedral, involving the full orchestra with pipes.

“The wealth of talent on show will make these very special events, and will enhance the party atmosphere associated with the SFO’s concerts.”

The SFO was founded in 1980 to promote the best of the Scottish tradition of massed orchestral fiddle playing. Since then it has performed in the major concert halls of Scotland and the rest of the UK, with occasional overseas tours, attracting capacity audiences. Its recordings have been sold in 70 countries worldwide.

The SFO is a registered Scottish charity and it has raised over £1m for other charities. It has some 120 members, selected by audition, and the members give freely of their time. The orchestra is managed by its members, on a voluntary basis, and is funded from the proceeds of its events.


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