Dates for your diary:
If you would like to make a donation to the Niel Gow Memorial Fund please use the PayPal button below or
New CD played on Niel Gow's fiddle - proceeds to Niel Gow memorial. Click on CD cover for ordering information.
NIEL GOW FESTIVAL 2017
The 14th Annual Niel Gow Festival will be held over the weekend of March
17th-19th. Based at Birnam Arts, this music extravaganza brings together not
only fiddle players professional and amateur, but also fiddle makers, music publishers and fiddle fans from all over Scotland and beyond.
Instigated in order to raise funds for a memorial to 18th century fiddler Niel Gow of Inver, the
festival has itself become a living tribute to Dunkeld and Birnam's local hero (who incuded Robert Burns amongst his fans).
Guest artistes this year will be travelling from far and wide, and include the
Wrigley Sisters from Orkney, masters of the Donegal fiddle tradition Caoimhin Macaoidh and Peter Campbell and, making a return visit, Northumberland's Roddy Mathews. Home grown talents include Alastair McCulloch from Ayr, west highland fiddler Archie Mcallister from Argyll and Birnam's own Karys Watt.
Festival director and local hero Pete Clark will also be appearing over the
weekend, in the company of friends including 'cellist Ron Shaw and pianist extraordinaire Muriel Johnstone.
Young fiddlers are always welcome and, on the Saturday morning of the festival, the main stage at Birnam Arts will be given over to fiddlers from Perthshire schools. In recent years, the Dunkeld & District Strathspey & Reel Society has gone from strength to strength and, in keeping with what has become tradition, they will kick off the Sunday afternoon concert which brings the weekend's music to a close.
Many of the performers (fiddlers AND accompanists) give workshops as part of
their contribution to the weekend - an opportunity that budding traditional musicians should try not to miss!
With guided walks and spontaneous music sessions, the weekend is bound to draw a crowd, so book early to avoid disappointment! Tickets will go on sale 6th February 2017 from Birnam Arts.
Friday at 1.45pm: The Royal School musical afternoon (NB this is a
Presented by Karys Watt, David MacFarlane and Pete Clark
Followed by Open Session at the Taybank from 3pm
Sat. 18th March
Sun. 19th March
The Royal Dunkeld Hotel
11am – 1.30pm
Hosted by Liam Manion
Fiddle / trad. music groups
All concerts £15 (Under 16s £7)
Workshops £8 (Under 16s £5)
Walks –The guided walks are FREE, but donations gratefully received!
THE BIG TREES WALK – with David Martin Saturday 18th March, 11am from the Taybank
THE NIEL GOW WALK – with Pete Clark Sunday 19th March, 11am from the Taybank
although the main focus will be on tune playing instruments like fiddle, whistle.
instruments / group work)
Harmony Workshop: This workshop aims to make musicians more confident at harmonising particularly at a session. Harmony not only adds colour & texture to the tune, but allows you play along with
tunes you're yet to learn. Harmony lines are often far
easier to play than the tune itself. Bring any instrument to
this mixed instrument class
Iain Anderson (accordion)
(mixed instruments / group work)
Alistair McCulloch hails from Ayr in Scotland and is one of the country's best known fiddle
performers, teachers and composers. Past winner of many fiddle championships, Alistair is a fiddle instructor at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
The Alistair McCulloch Trio featuring Aaron Jones of Old Blind Dogs, and whistle wizard
Marc Duff, regularly tours and Alistair is also a long standing member of the well known ceilidh band Coila and the Iain Cathcart Scottish Dance Band. Recently he has toured in
Australia and New Zealand with Australian fiddle champion Catherine Fraser and in the USA with guitarist Eamon Sefton.
To date Alistair has performed in over 20 countries, also including China, Kazakhstan,
Qatar, Nigeria, Venezuela, Canada and throughout Europe. To date, he has released three solo albums, most recently 'Four Seasons in One Day' – says the Scotsman "As the
mountain of fiddle CDs rises even higher, this one can climb straight to the summit ridge".
His latest music book the 'Alistair McCulloch Collection Volume 2' was recently published.
Commissions have included a suite for William Grant & sons of Glenfiddich whisky and an
orchestral score to celebrate the visit of the Olympic torch to southern Scotland.
Alistair is musical director of the dynamic young group 'Innovation' and was formerly a soloist with the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra. His playing style is driving and precise, described by the Living Tradition as "fresh, fiery and full of fun".
Alistair is an enthusiastic and inspirational teacher and has recently been invited to tutor at the Swannanoa Gathering
Celtic Week in North Carolina, the Southern Hemisphere International School of Scottish Fiddling in New Zealand,
Pinewoods Dance Camp in Massachusetts and Boston Harbor Fiddle School.
"This collection confirms him as one of the finest
fiddlers and composers of his generation" - Living Tradition
envelope" - Scots Magazine
"a tremendous first album from an outstanding musician" - Folk Roots
"a second collection that showcases a master of his instrument taking its capabilities to the edge of the
Archie McAllister is a West Coast style fiddler with influences from pipe music and also from the North East fiddle style which he played since he started.
He plays and has recorded with many different bands from both the folk and dance band
scene; these include Skipinnish, Ross Kennedy and the Jura Ceilidh Band. He continues to play in different line-ups and also teaches fiddle in Lochgilphead. Sileas Sinclair will join
him on piano and accordion.
Multi-instrumentalist Dave J Ford has been fronting Funkeilidh for over 10 years. Yet he rarely finds himself playing the tune, always drawn to the more subtle lines which add spice to the band sound.
Festival director and local hero Pete Clark will also be appearing over the weekend, in the
company of friends including 'cellist Ron Shaw and pianist extraordinaire Muriel Johnstone.
Roddy Matthews is a very well known fiddle player both at home in Northumberland and
throughout Scotland. He comes from a musical family; his father was personal piper to the Duke of Northumberland and his mother was National Convenor of Commun na Clarsach (Scottish harp society) and co-founder (with her clarsach colleagues) of the Edinburgh
International Harp Festival.
At the age of eight he received his first fiddle as a gift from Jack Armstrong of "Barnstormers" fame but was massively inspired at the age of ten when he first heard Farquhar Macrae at Lochailort in the western highlands.
The love of west highland music along with Northumbrian tradition has never left him. Further inspiration has come from his many trips to The Shetland Isles and players like Bryan Gear. Roddy's slow airs are both sensitive and haunting, and his hornpipes full of
local flavour which contribute to his superb wider style.
Roddy has played for a number of well known Scottish Dance Bands and broadcast for
the BBC with both Gary Forrest and Robert Whitehead on 'Take the Floor.' He has also
appeared solo on several occasions on 'The Reel Blend' and in recent days on the growing internet Scottish music
Sìleas Sinclair is from Connel, near Oban in Argyll, and has followed her dad‘s footsteps
into the traditional dance music scene. Playing both accordion and piano and being
brought up in the lively West Coast cèilidh dance culture, Sìleas has also been very much
influenced by the native Gaelic scene around her. Conducting the Oban Gaelic Choir who
have recently returned from performing in Verona, Italy, running the Oban High School
Traditional School of Music, teaching music privately and playing with her own cèilidh band – “Drams Allowed” - keeps Sìleas busy, not to mention having the privilege to play with great traditional artists such as Archie MacAllister, Rachel Walker, Skipinnish and
Caoimhin MacAoidh is a Donegal fiddler and scholar. During his youth he had much opportunity to learn from and play with many of the greats of Donegal fiddle playing including John Doherty, Danny O’Donnell, Francie Dearg O’Beirn, Con Cassidy, the Campbells and many others. He has written and broadcast profusely on the Donegal tradition. His
extensive work documenting the strong linkeages between the Scottish Strathspey repertoire forming the basis for the
Donegal Highlands repertoire resulted in the publication of a major collection which he will expand upon during the weekend. In recent times he has been performing in duet with Peter Campbell and focussing on the repertoire played
by the older generations at house dances in Donegal. He is the founder of World Fiddle Day and has recently completed a commissioned suite for solo uilleann pipes commemorating the life and achievements of Eamonn
Ceannt, one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising, an uilleann piper and an Irish language activist. His works can be accessed at
(Disappointing news that Peter Campbell can't be with us for the festival, owing to an illness in the family. We
wish him well.)
Peter Campbell comes from one of the great families of Donegal fiddle playing. His grandfather, Peadar, was a renowned house dance player in the Croaghs Mountains in the central Donegal Gaeltacht. He played regular host to the legendary Doherty brothers, most notably Mickey and John. In the Campbell household Peadar's
sons Jimmy, Vincent and Columba learned directly from the Dohertys and all of the other gifted local fiddlers who flourished in the
area. Peter's father, Jimmy and uncles Vincent and Columba have been major influences on his playing and echoes of
the Doherty's music can be clearly heard in Peter's dynamic performances. Peter is a regular performer at sessions and festivals throughout Donegal and wider afield. He also partners Caoimhin Mac Aoidh in the duet known as "Fiddle Cases". .
For over three decades this talented twosome have been household names in the global traditional mu-sic scene. The unique tuned tones of twin sisters’ Jennifer (fiddle) and
Hazel (guitar and piano) is augmented with soft spoken stories and imbued with a see-saw mischievous Scottish dialect. Rooted in the ancient isles of Orkney off the far north of
Britain their music has been described as a dancing dialect of “songs without words” and
has been wooing and enchanting audiences from Bergen to Brisbane to critical acclaim.
The Wrigley Sisters are unquestionably regarded as at the forefront of Orkneys’ incredible yet quietly confident rise to fame.
The Wrigley Sisters already maintain a well established and internationally acclaimed reputation and can ably demonstrate an extensive understanding, knowledge and wide
experience of local, national and international cultural com-munities. Indeed they are unquestionably two of a number of high profile cultural and creative arts ‘ambassadors’ to emanate from, or to be associated with, the islands over recent times and are clearly
appreciated as such within their home community.
They originally started performing together as a formal duo in 1987 and since then have
risen in international prominence. During this time they have recorded six acclaimed
albums, undertaken three world tours, visited forty seven countries (including sixteen trans-Atlantic trips) and appeared in countless television and radio productions.
They have undertaken many musical and education related initiatives and collaborations, several with internationally
renowned artists such as Evelyn Glennie. In addition they have also undertaken and delivered extensive teaching and music workshop initiatives throughout the world.
Over and above their international teaching demands, they have also tutored extensively at home in Orkney – a
commitment and dedication shortly to ‘celebrate’ its 20th year.
The sisters were extensively involved in ‘Live Music Now’ – a tutorial initiative who’s patrons are Yehudi Menuhin and Prince Charles. Indeed Prince Charles himself was a member of the audience when the sisters appeared at London’s
Barbican Centre in 1997 to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the ‘Live Music Now’ initiative. The initiative is primarily
aimed at positively impacting upon the lives of disadvantaged members of communities, including the disabled and the
elderly among many others. Their work in this respect also took them to prisons, care homes and many other
Over the years the sisters have won a number of national and international awards, with Jennifer Wrigley herself a
past winner of the BBC Young Tradition Award, the UK’s premier accolade for emerging folk music talent.
Hazel Wrigley is an outstanding world class Guitarist and Piano accompanist. As a mostly self-taught player her early
influences came from local Orcadian players who passed on decades of experience in the aural tradition. She was a
dear friend to Shetland guitarist ‘Peerie Willie Johnson’ who mentored her from a young age and with whom she has a
strong musical affiliation. Her long line of outstanding students, many of whom are coming the fore internationally as
great players in their own right, only increase demand for her at the ‘Wrigley Sisters School of Music at The
Reel’ Kirkwall. A long waiting list for lessons at home is a reflection of her popularity and this is an extremely rare opportunity
to grab some tips and hints from a true accompanying master out with her homeland.
The Scotsman – ‘Hazel’s jazzy, mischievous, strongly rhythmic accompaniments’
Jennifer Wrigley is highly respected globally not only as a world class fiddler but as an ambassador for
traditional Orkney music. She is internationally recognised as one of the leading fiddle players and composers to come out of
Scotland in recent years; influencing and inspiring players all around the world. Her style reflects ages of
musicianship that has been passed down aurally from her heroes including players from her Scandinavian influenced homeland of the Orkney Islands. It is rare to find such an advanced player with the understanding of
a true traditional fiddle style who can also teach to the highest technical standard – anyone who wants to improve technique or their general understanding in the fiddle should not miss this workshop.
Glasgow Herald – ‘Jennifer's multifaceted fiddling - ranging from coquettish twists to full-blooded expression-as well as
her consistently high-quality tunesmithery’
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