Young fiddler wins national award for composition

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Young Shetland fiddler Gemma Donald has won a national prize for a composition. The 21-year-old has added the Amber Fiddle Award in the Perthshire Amber Festival to a list of accolades that include the Glenfiddich Fiddle Competition in 2005 and Shetland Young Fidler of the Year in 2002.

Her Birlin’ in Blair Atholl took the top prize ahead of The Inver Ceilidh by Karen Steven of Caithness, who came second, and The Ardgour Seamstress by Donald Stewart in third.

The three finalists performed their entries as part of the Friday night concert and the winner was announced on the night. This year saw a record number of entries coming in from near and far, making the decision for the judges tougher than ever.

The award, formerly known as the Niel Gow Fiddle Composition Award, was launched in 2008 to encourage creative fiddle composition and has attracted entrants from around the world. Gemma’s prize is £1,000 plus possession of the Niel Gow Trophy for a year.

She also receives a two-year subscription to Fiddle On magazine and her tune will be printed in the magazine as part of a feature article.

Born and brought up in Whiteness, Gemma’s playing draws on influences from Shetland music, jazz, swing, country, Scottish, Irish and bluegrass music. Currently living in Falkirk, Gemma is the resident fiddler at Edinburgh’s premeir Scottish show at the Thistle King James. She also plays professionally at home and abroad in styles ranging from Scottish to bluegrass at events including the Thomas Fraser Memorial Festival and Cannes Film Festival.

Gemma said: “The Amber Fiddle Award is a fantastic event to be part of and I’m delighted that my music has been recognised in this way. Above all, I’d like to thank the sponsors for their generosity and all the other competitors for making it such a success – I would definitely recommend fiddlers everywhere to enter next year’s competition!”


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