Young Fiddler of the Year chosen on contest’s 30th birthday

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Shetland’s Young Fiddler of the Year is 13-year-old Hannah Adamson from Cunningsburgh.

Hannah, who was joint runner-up last year, secured the title on the 30th anniversary of the competition, organised by Shetland Folk Society, at the Garrison Theatre on Saturday night.

A full audience, along with adjudicators Aly Bain, Gemma Donald and Bryan Gear, heard 12 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.

Martha Thomson of Channerwick was the runner-up and Mary Dimitrov of Lerwick took third place. In the traditional open competition Martha Thomson took the honours, with Laura Smith of Cunningsburgh runner-up and Leanne Leask of Nesting and Fraser Tait of Sandwick in joint third place.

This year’s competition, in fact, turned out to be almost a clean sweep of trophies for competitiors from the south end of the isles. The event began on Friday with the junior competitions for a field of over 50 entrants from primary six and under. Kirsty Wishart, 10, from Ocraquoy, came first in the young fiddler junior competition to win the Shetland School of Music Trophy, with Katie June Bain of Lerwick runner-up and Jasmine Smith of Bigton in third place. In the traditional junior section Kirsty Wishart came first again to take the Tom Anderson Memorial Trophy ahead of Alana Smith with Ming Sandford of Cullivoe in third place.

The intermediate competitions, for players of primary seven and secondary one, got under way on Friday afternoon. Here, 12-year-old Sophie Moar from Cunningsburgh headed the field in both competitions. In the young fiddler intermediate competition she took the Ian Burns Memorial Trophy ahead of Cara Steven from Virkie and Stephanie Riise of Lerwick, then in the traditional intermediate competition she won the Shetland Musical Heritage Trust Cup ahead of Cara Steven and Ellie Johnson of Muckle Roe. Cara Steven didn’t go home empty handed though, for she was declared winner of the Lell Robertson Memorial Trophy for playing the best waltz.

Twenty-three young players from secondary two, three and four came to the Garrison on Saturday morning for the two open competitions, and by 2pm the finalists were chosen; four from the traditional entrants and eight in the young fiddler section. The final session began at 7.30pm, 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. Lisa Fullerton, Shetland’s Young Fiddler of 2010, then performed for the last time as holder of the title.

After the interval, Charlie Simpson gave the results of the society’s annual tune competiton, judged by Debbie Scott and Violet Tulloch, who had quite a task to pick winners from a healthy entry of 27 tunes. Peter Kay from Whalsay won the Curly Jamieson Memorial Cup in the junior section ahead of Sophie Moar from Cunningsburgh, while the John Pottinger Memorial Shield, and the third prize, both went to Margaret Scollay, with Eileen Donald from Whiteness taking second prize. Christine Hughson from Bressay 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 Margaret Scollay – the very first Young Fiddler of the Year in 1982.

In the traditional final Laura Smith was declared runner-up and Martha Thomson winner of the Fiddlers’ Society Cup. Laura Smith was awarded the Martin Laurenson Trophy for best slow air in the young fiddler open competition, then Mary Dimitrov was named in third place, followed by Martha Thomson as runner-up. Finally, to great applause, Hannah Adamson was declared Young Fiddler of 2011, 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, and 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 Bryan Gear’s three-year stint as adjudicator was marked with a presentaion to him 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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