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Shetland Arts is offering free scholarship places for young musicians from Scotland's Islands to visit Shetland and take part in two exiting music events this summer.

Scholarship students will participate in The Harris Playfair Youth Trad Big Band Project and Fiddle Frenzy, our renowned fiddle school that comprises a week long programme of tuition from some of Shetland’s finest musicians, showcase concerts, dances and cultural activities. The scholarship project is supported by Scotland’s Islands

Fiddle Frenzy

Fiddle Frenzy, Sunday 7th to Sunday 14th August, is a summer school and cultural festival that concentrates on Shetland's unique sense of place, and is designed to teach and pass on traditional Shetland musical styles and tunes.  As well as fiddle tuition, Shetland style guitar accompaniment is offered, and classes are available in Traditional Shetland Knitting techniques, Creative Writing and Art Workshops that will feature our spectacular land and seascapes.  The music tutors include some of Shetland's most proficient musicians including Ross Couper, Bryan Gear, Cathy Geldard, Andrew Gifford, Kevin Henderson, Jim Leask, Bernadette Porter and Pauleen Wiseman, who will pass on their skills, knowledge and enthusiasm. The fantastic Ryan Couper will once again lead the guitar classes.

Shetland storytellers and historians will host the daily cultural trips, and there will be concerts and dances every evening together with a festival club. Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham, Bodega, Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, Fullsceilidh Spelemannslag, Maggie Adamson & Brian Nicholson, Hom Bru, Bryan Gear with Violet Tulloch are some of the acts who will perform during the evening concerts.

Harris Playfair Youth Trad Big Band Project

The Harris Playfair Youth Trad Big Band Project, which will take place between Wednesday 3rd to Tuesday 9th August, is a youth ‘super group’ featuring some of the islands’ finest young musicians who, under the tutelage of Harris Playfair and Margaret Scollay will focus on material that spans jazz and traditional Shetland music with ‘big band’ style arrangements (view video footage of the band at the bottom of this page).

Harris has a track record of producing astonishing results with groups of young musicians. He has a deep understanding and appreciation of jazz and traditional Shetland styles, and the connections between the two. This is a great opportunity for young musicians to be part of an exciting and progressive ensemble, and for audiences to hear the inventive new material, that will result from the rigorous and thoroughly enjoyable workshops.  Harris hopes the group will provide “a platform upon which the young musicians can experience the kind of eclectic musical diversity which characterises the music of such groups as The Unusual Suspects, the True North Orchestra, the Treacherous Orchestra, and more locally connected groups such as Fiddlers Bid and Filska.

The group of young musicians will push back musical boundaries and gain an invaluable range of experiences, collectively and individually, while learning just how exciting being part of such a creative ensemble can be.  The project will use traditional and contemporary melodies from each of the participating island groups with multi-textured arrangements influenced by the jazz big band idiom. Another aim will be to encourage the young musicians to produce their own material: both melodies and group arrangements.  The Big Band workshops will run from Wednesday 3rd to Sunday 7th August with a performance on Mon 8th at the Fidddle Frenzy  opening concert in the Garrison Theatre, Lerwick, followed by a second performance in Ollaberry in the north Shetland Mainland on Tuesday 9th.


Each year Shetland Arts provides two free scholarship places to the winners of the Shetland Young Fiddler of the Year competition. This year the titles went Hannah Adamson and Martha Thomson. Thanks to funding from Scotland's Islands, the scholarship programme has been widened to include participants from each of the Scottish island groups.

The scholarship is designed to encourage an understanding of the music of Shetland and to promote its continued development, highlighting living traditions and modern influences, and educating young musicians to ensure that traditional music continues to evolve.  It also aims to strengthen the ties between the island groups and provide musical collaboration opportunities for the participants.

The scholarship is open to young people aged 14 to 26 and best suited to fiddle players, although Shetland Arts will consider guitarists, bassists, or any musician able to take part in the workshops.  Shetland Arts welcomes applications from the following regions: Highland (Eigg, Muck, Raasay, Rum, Skye, Canna); North Ayrshire (Arran, Great Cumbrae); Argyll & Bute (Bute, Iona, Coll, Colonsay, Gigha, Islay, Jura, Kerrera, Lismore, Luing, Mull, Seil, Tiree); the Outer Hebrides (Eday, Barra, Uist, Lewis/Harris); and Orkney. Scholarship students must be available to attend the full range of events from 3rd to 14th August.

The scholarship will include costs for all travel, accommodation, food and participation fees. The students will be accommodated in our award winning youth hostel.  A liaison officer, with a musical background, will be staying in the youth hostel and will be on hand to assist them.

Bryan Peterson, Shetland Arts' Music Development Officer said, "This is a fantastic opportunity for young musicians to come to Shetland and immerse themselves in our culture, and share the music of their islands with Shetlanders."

If you wish to apply or nominate someone, please download, complete and return this application form (Youth Scholarship Application.doc) or contact Shetland Arts for further information: Shetland Arts, Toll Clock Centre, Lerwick, Shetland, ZE1 0DE – 01595 743 843 – -

The deadline for application submission is midday Monday 4th July.


Video footage of Harris Playfair Youth Trad Big Band

This project has been supported by Scotland’s Islands -

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