Monday, June 30, 2008

Fiddlin' in Vidlin

Right away we learned that anyone who has earned the title 'Young Fiddler of the Year' in Shetland is wonderful. Our teacher for the week, Mark Laurenson, is one such fiddler. He was a patient teacher, as well as a dazzling player. (Sorry for the fuzzy snapshots.)

Shetland Arts maintains a website, www.shetland-music.com with bios and music samples from many of the fiddlers and groups we heard over the course of the week. They included (in no special order) Brian Gear, Aly Bain, Margaret Scollay, Gemma Donald, Chris Stout, Fiddlers Bid, accompanist Violet Tulloch ... and many, many others. One highlight for us was a 'wan to wan' with Brian Gear and Violet Tulloch.
Nothing but the best. Jane

Monday, June 23, 2008


If you have an addiction to fiddling, the Shetland Fiddle Frenzy is a good place to get a fix. The weeklong festival involves total non-stop immersion in Shetland fiddling. There are 2 instructional workshops daily (grouped according to level), ensemble learning for the big weekend performance, outstanding concerts every night, impromptu and scheduled sessions in between.

Most of the instruction is given at the Isleburgh Community Centre in Lerwick. In 2007, on one day, the entire school moved to Vidlin, a village on the east side of the main island. Another day, we traveled by bus/ferry/bus to the island of Yell. Janet and I visited Scalloway one afternoon on an optional side trip from Lerwick. Photos of our outings will be posted in our albums.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


So where are the Shetlands? Most maps of Scotland show the Shetland Islands as an inset, making it difficult to appreciate their geographic proximity to Scotland or other countries. Let's just say, Shetland is located between the mainland of Scotland and the mainland of Norway. Following is a direct quote from the website http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/. A good map of the Shetland Islands is located there at

Because most maps of Scotland include Shetland in a box near the top right hand corner, not many people have a strong sense of where this archipelago of 100 islands and islets lies. It comes as a surprise to many to discover it is nearer Bergen than Aberdeen; that it is further north than Moscow or southern Greenland; and that Lerwick is as far as Milan from London. The population of Shetland is around 23,000.
Shetland was Norse until 8 September 1468, when the islands were mortgaged to Scotland for 8,000 florins as part of the marriage agreement between the future James III and Princess Margrethe of Denmark. In 1472 the Scots annexed both Shetland and Orkney.
Shetland measures about 70 miles from Sumburgh Head in the south to Muckle Flugga off the coast of Unst in the north. With a land area of 567 square miles enclosed by a coastline of 900 miles, nowhere is more than three miles from the sea, and very few places are out of sight of it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Shetland Connection

We want to share our experiences in Shetland with friends and family. Last year we discovered that the visitor centre, a short walk from our hotel (The Grand Hotel) has computers available to tourists.
When we arrive we'll be able to post to this blog regularly. For now, we'll be adding photos from our 2007 visit. Our photos from 2008 will be added after we return. Readers can look now at www.shetlandfiddlefrenzy.com for a complete schedule of 'Frenzy' events for 2008. Additional information about Shetland can be found at www.visitshetland.com. Contact information during our stay can be found at the hotel website www.kgqhotels.co.uk.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Last year we attained a bit of notoriety in Lerwick, center of the main island of Shetland. All week at the Shetland Fiddle Frenzy we attended teaching sessions, concerts, side trips. Finally, Saturday morning we had free time to visit the music store - High Level Music - where we loaded up with CD's. The women at the register said, "We heard there were 2 ladies from Boston here." So, our reputation had preceded us -- hence, the title of this blog.

We had such a wonderful time we can't wait to go back. Last year we caught up with Chris Stout and Catriona McKay, whom we had met at workshops in the USA. This year we look forward to meeting Catriona MacDonald again, whose workshop and concerts we attended at Gaelic Roots, Boston College, a number of years ago.