Fifteen-year-old Callum Watt of Aith Junior High School was named Young Fiddler of the Year 2013 on Saturday night, in front of a near sell-out audience in Mareel. Close contenders for the title were Peter Kay in second place and Fraser Tait in third.
“This makes Callum’s fiddle playing at 7.30 in the morning all worthwhile”, joked Callum’s mum Andrea following the victory.
The finals night concert was the culmination of two days of young musicians competing for six titles over three age groups. With a record 102 entries the Mareel auditorium was busy with spectators during the adjudication process on both Friday and Saturday. Adjudicators Maurice Henderson, Claire White and Peter Gear were kept very busy throughout.
Fourteen-year-old Sophie Moar of Sandwick Junior High School won the title of Traditional Fiddler of the Year. Callum Watt was traditional open runner-up and Laura Smith was third.
Ten year old Jodie Smith from Bigton won the title of Junior Young Fiddler of the Year. It was a very closely fought competition with Tom Fraser and Callum Leask awarded joint second place and George Spence and Lauren Sandison joint third. Jodie Smith was also declared the traditional junior winner, Callum Leask was second and Lauren Sandison third.
The title of Young Fiddler Intermediate was won by 12-year-old Alana Smith from Weisdale. Kirsty Wishart came second and Jasmin Smith and Katie Whyte joint third. Alana was also awarded the traditional intermediate prize, with Chyan Davidson and Emily Briggs in second and third place.
Other prizes awarded were the Lell Robertson Memorial Trophy for the best-played waltz, which went to twelve-year-old Kirsty Wishart. Last year’s Young Fiddler of the Year Laura Smith won the Martin Laurenson Memorial Trophy for the most moving slow air.
Results of the Shetland Folk Society tune competition were also announced and the winning tunes were performed by judges Violet Tulloch and Debbie Scott along with Bryan Gear. In the junior competition, Hannah Adamson was awarded first and third place whilst Debbie Adamson came second.
The senior tune competition was won by Pauleen Wiseman with a slow air entitled ‘Abateg’. Eileen Donald and Mary Rutherford were joint second and Steven Spence third. Steven was also awarded the David Hall Memorial Shield for the best reel in the Shetland style. Judges Debbie Scott and Violet Tulloch said the standard of compositions was very high in both the junior and senior tune competition and selecting winners had been a difficult task.
During the concert compere Valerie Watt paid tribute to Charlie Simpson, secretary of the Folk Society and Douglas Sinclair, president, who have organised the competition for many years. “The handover to Vaila Grant and I has been very smooth as a result of Charlie’s attention to detail. He has run the competition for 12 years and has committed a lot of time to it. Douglas has been involved since the ‘80s, and his voice as a compere is well known to generations of fiddlers.”
In her summing up, adjudicator Claire White remarked, “I’ve stayed south for quite a while now and it’s great to come home and appreciate afresh how unique and prestigious Shetland’s musical teaching and culture is on a world stage.”
After the concert, organiser Vaila Grant said, “The atmosphere backstage was great over the two days. There were many tunes shared and new friendships formed. It all helps settle nerves before performing.”
An interview with winner Callum Watt will appear in this week’s The Shetland Times.