22nd October 2018
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Festival hits right note with organiser

Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival has once more been hailed a “great success”.

The festival celebrated its 26th year in style with almost 200 visiting and local artistes performing around the isles.

According to Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Club chairman Peter Leask, numbers have been consistent over the past few years and this year only slightly down on last year’s “exceptional” 25th anniversary festival.

Matthew MacLennan of the Nicky McMichan Scottish Dance Band enjoys the moment in Bressay on Friday, with Graeme Jamieson in the background. The band was one of 24 visiting acts. Photo: Mark Berry

Matthew MacLennan of the Nicky McMichan Scottish Dance Band enjoys the moment in Bressay on Friday, with Graeme Jamieson in the background. The band was one of 24 visiting acts. Photo: Mark Berry

Of particular note were Italian accordionist Gianni Mirizzi and Norwegian sextet Baeljtrokken who brought their own brand of “ever popular” Norse guitar and accordion stylings. As well as the two foreign acts, English trio of Chris, Julie and Nick Dewhurst were very popular, according to Mr Leask.

In total 83 visiting musicians in over 20 acts and over 100 local artistes played at the festival. Mr Leask said that while it was not yet possible to put a figure on total ticket sales, there had been three sell-out concerts on each of Thursday and Friday nights with another three gigs on each of those nights close to a sell out.

He added: “It would be fair to say that everyone is delighted with the way it has gone. All in all it was a very good weekend and the weather was good, which helps as well.”

Between 500 and 600 festival club memberships were sold this year, down by around 50 on last year’s record breaking tally. There were also only 20 or 30 tickets left from 700 at the “big dance” at Clickimin on Saturday.

Particularly gratifying was the interest shown by youngsters at a special youth concert at Islesburgh on Saturday. Four musicians were also involved coaching the youngsters following the youth concert and many of the children stayed on to benefit from playing along with the adults – an additional string to their collective bows.

The David Halcrow Band performing at Bressay Hall on Friday. From left: Jim Halcrow, Graham Jamieson, Iain Williamson (fiddle), Graham Malcomson (double bass) and David Halcrow. Photo: Mark Berry

The David Halcrow Band performing at Bressay Hall on Friday. From left: Jim Halcrow, Graham Jamieson, Iain Williamson (fiddle), Graham Malcomson (double bass) and David Halcrow. Photo: Mark Berry

“This is the first time we have had such an event and we look forward to repeating that and building on it again next year,” added Mr Leask.

It had been impossible to pick a stand out act this year, given the quality of the line up, added Mr Leask, but the playing of Gianni Mirizzi had drawn much comment for its totally different approach and its unquestioned brilliance, even if it was “not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea”.

He said that the turnout at this year’s festival had been especially pleasing given the sheer amount and variety of music that has been performed in Shetland this year and particularly in recent weeks.

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