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Shetland is about to see the launch of a new youth ‘super group’ featuring some of the islands’ finest young musicians who, under the tutelage of Harris Playfair, Margaret Scollay and a range of youth tutors, will focus on material which spans jazz and traditional Shetland music with ‘big band’ style arrangements.

The as yet unnamed group will feature around 25 musicians including Young Fiddler of the Year Liza Fullerton and jazz saxophonist Norman Willmore of Norman and the Folding Deckchairs fame.

The group will meet for the first time on Wednesday 4th August to take part in a series of five intensive daylong workshops to arrange and rehearse material composed by Playfair especially for the group before their debut performance at the opening concert of this year’s Fiddle Frenzy on Monday 9th August at Garrison Theatre.

Harris Playfair is one of Shetland’s most innovative musicians and musical directors and the driving force behind youth music ensembles such as the “Ceol Mor” Trad Big Band, part of the Aberdeen International Youth Festival and the “Sunshine Coast Trad Band” in B.C., Canada. Calling on his previous experience, Playfair will guide all the elements of the creative process, direct the composition and selection of material, and have a principle role in shaping the groups’ development and future direction.

Playfair will be working alongside Margaret Scollay, one of Shetland’s most experienced traditional music teachers, and young tutors including Ryan Couper on guitar and Victoria Laurenson on accordion.

Bryan Peterson, Music Development Officer at Shetland Arts, who are organising the project said, “Harris has a proven 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 links between the two. It is a great opportunity for our young musicians to be part of an exciting and progressive ensemble, and for audiences to hear inventive new material and the results of Harris’ rigorous workshops.”

Playfair hopes the group will provide “a platform upon which the young musicians of Shetland 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.”

“What the project hopes to achieve is to establish a collective of young musicians which pushes many musical boundaries and gives the participants an invaluable range of experiences, both collectively and individually, and also helps to make them aware of just how exciting the potential of being part of such a creative ensemble can be.”

The main source of the material used will be traditional and contemporary melodies, mainly from Shetland, Scotland, and Scandinavia, with multi textured arrangements influenced by the jazz big band idiom. There will be a strong emphasis on encouraging the young musicians to produce their own material, both melodically and through group arranging.

The project is part funded by the Scottish Arts Council’s Jazz Development Fund.

Tickets for the performance are available from Shetland Box Office, Islesburgh Community Centre, Lerwick – 01595 745 555

Notes to participants:


Wednesday 4th to Sunday 8th August - 9am to 5pm at Bells Brae School. Wednesday’s workshop will start at 10am to allow for set-up time. Sunday’s workshop will be in the afternoon only, starting at 2pm.

The workshops will take place in the gym hall and/ or GP area. Entrance will be through the ASN Dept door at the top of Bell's Road. There will be signs to direct you to the workshop. Access with a vehicle (to drop off instruments etc) can be arranged via the gates near the back door of the gym. Please let us know in advance so we can make arrangements with the janitors.

There will be an hour-long lunch break between 1pm and 2pm each day. Islesburgh, Clickimin Centre and the Toll Clock Centre are within easy walking distance but you may wish to consider taking a packed lunch.


Monday 9 August at Garrison Theatre. This is the Fiddle Frenzy opening concert. The venue will be available for rehearsals / soundcheck through the day. Details will be confirmed during the workshop sessions.

Instruments and equipment

A small PA, drumkit, piano, amps and music stands will be supplied. Please bring your instruments and all other equipment and accessories you need.

For more information, contact Shetland Arts’ 01595 743 843 or Music Development Officer Bryan Peterson

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