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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Award-Winning Music Group The Kiltearn Fiddlers Return With New Leader

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Lauren MacColl to lead monthly sessions in Dingwall for young musicians in S1-6

An award-winning music group, which started more than 30 years ago in Kiltearn Primary School, has been relaunched after a break due to Covid, with a former member now leading the group.

The Kiltearn Fiddlers was established by Alpha Munro as part of Fèis Rois’ weekly music classes.

Alpha Munro worked tirelessly to provide young musicians from across the Highlands with high quality fiddle tuition and fantastic performance opportunities.

The group performed throughout Scotland as well as travelling to Wales, Denmark and France to perform at festivals and some of the Highland’s top traditional musicians were involved as youngsters including Lauren MacColl and Graham Mackenzie.

Covid restrictions meant the group was no longer able to meet in person but Fèis Rois is delighted that The Kiltearn Fiddlers has now returned with a former member at the helm; Lauren MacColl.

Lauren, originally from the Black Isle, is considered one of Scotland’s most expressive fiddle players and after studying music in Glasgow returned home to the Highlands where she draws much of her musical inspiration.

A founder member of both chamber-folk quartet RANT and song-trio Salt House, Lauren’s recent multi-disciplinary project ‘Heal & Harrow’ with Rachel Newton launched in 2022 with a critically acclaimed album based on the Scottish Witch Trials, and the duo won the Composer of the Year category at the Scots Trad Music Awards 2022.

Her 2020 album ‘Landskein’, her fourth under her own name, is almost entirely solo traditional airs recorded in Abriachan Hall in the Highlands.

Lauren was fiddle tutor for RCS (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) Junior Conservatoire for over a decade, and continues to teach her own students and community group.

Her work as a session musician on viola and fiddle as seen her record for a wide variety of artists across the Scottish music scene including Julie Fowlis, Blue Rose Code, Ewan MacLennan and Siobhan Miller. 

In 2019 she realised a book of her own tunes titled ‘To The North…’ and toured her Fèis Rois commissioned work ‘The Seer’ across major Scottish venues. 

Lauren MacColl said:

The Kiltearn Fiddlers years gave me my first taste of arranging, recording and playing gigs with a group.

“It was a chance to meet with people my age who loved the same music as me, and exchange tunes I was learning at home.

“We had some brilliant experiences playing far and wide as a group, and Alpha Munro selflessly passed on so much energy and passion for music which was a huge influence on me.

“It is great to be back leading this new incarnation of the group, working with brilliant young musicians to share in the music we all love.

“Especially after the last few years, the need to be in the same space to play music together is even more important.”

The Kiltearn Fiddlers is open to young traditional musicians in S1-S6, and you don’t need to be a fiddle player to take part.

With thanks to a generous donation to Fèis Rois from a private donor, the monthly sessions are completely free to attend and are aimed at intermediate and advanced players. 

It’s a great chance to learn new music, hone skills and meet new people.

The workshops take place on the first Sunday of the month in Dingwall Community Centre and Lauren will be joined by multi-instrumentalist Mike Vass who will lead the intermediate players.

Tilly McMyn, a member of Kiltearn Fiddlers, added:

“The Kiltearn Fiddlers is a lot of fun!

“I’ve really loved the music we’ve learned so far and Lauren encourages us to give ideas about what we play and how we can play it together.”

Upcoming workshop dates for The Kiltearn Fiddlers are: 5th March, 2nd April, 7th May, 4th June.

If you would like to find out more and sign up, please email tj.bawden@feisrois.org or visit www.feisrois.org.

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