The Shetland fiddle group which took last year’s Edinburgh Tattoo by storm has been invited back to play at the event this year, as well as scoring an “outreach” trip to the Antipodes in February.
Musical director for the 40-strong Hjaltibonhoga fiddle group, Margaret Scollay, only learned of the Tattoo’s plans for the return of the colourfully clad fiddlers on Up-Helly-A’ day.
She was picking up Tattoo executive producer Brigadier David Alfrey from Sumburgh Airport to take him to Lerwick to see the fesitval when he asked her if the fiddlers would like to come back, something that had previously only been “strongly hinted at”.
Mrs Scollay, who played in all 25 of Hjaltibonhoga’s tattoo shows, said: “I am still kinda stunned by it – it’s very exciting.
“I think I can speak for Hjaltibonhoga in saying that we did what we went to do. We really enjoyed getting to play alongside the military and other instrumental bands.”
She added that last year’s performances: “Seemed to have had a phenomenal impact as far as Shetland is concerned. It’s very humbling.”
While Mrs Scollay as musical director was responsible for choosing the tunes and arrangements, she had great support from “a few good folk around me” including Dana Stewart who administered the event that involved over 100 people from Shetland in total.
While four fiddlers had signed up for all 25 of this year’s shows within hours of Mrs Scollay sending out notification, there are still many fiddlers required if the numbers pan-out like last year, when 97 fiddlers were used in a rolling programme of performers – not all of whom could play at every show.
Next February’s trip to New Zealand and Australia, which will see Hjaltibonhoga playing alongside Scottish counterparts, will also mean some tough choices, as there are likely to be only about 20 participants at a time of year the school timetable will make attendance difficult for some of the younger ones.
• Full story in Friday’s Shetland Times.