THE ROYAL EDINBURGH MILITARY TATTOO 2015
The article below appeared in The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo programme and media coverage.
Hjaltibonhoga - The Shetland Fiddlers
The United Kingdom's most northerly community of Shetland is reknowned worldwide for the excellence of its traditional fiddle based music.
The islands' culture was originally Nordic and the fiddle the main provider of dance music. The islands' remoteness from mainstream influences historically created a near-unique playing style and repertoire.
Dr Tom Anderson MBE, through determination and effort, inspired a revival of Shetland's musical heritage thanks to tune collection and preservation, leading to the establishment of fiddle tuition in Shetland schools from 1972. Dr Anderson MBE - fiddler, composer, collector, teacher and traditionalist - died in 1991, but his inspiration lives on, as musicians such as Aly Bain and Fiddlers' Bid continue to take Shetland's music around the world.
Hjaltibonhoga, which means 'Shetland, my spiritual home', is representative of both their community and county.
The 40 players, aged from 14 to 60, embody the aural tradition of fiddling successfully transmitted across generations.
With music as her international language, the 22,000 inhabitants of the islands welcomed sea faring visitors and their traditions. Many Shetlanders have followed a career at sea, harvesting the music they found on their travels. More recently Shetland's already rich heritage of fiddling has been supplemented by a wealth of visiting musicians.
Tonight Hjaltibonhoga will pay homage to these influences. First to Shetland's east and the ringing strings of Scandinavia, then to her west and the smooth reels of the North Americas before returning home to the jigs and reels of Scotland.