Ronnie Gibson will be tutoring the new “Fiddle Orchestra” course at SC&T, on Monday nights.
In the video, Ronnie explains that he idea of an orchestra might seem at odds with everything else that SC&T does. He points to a perception that “orchestras” are quite snobbish institutions that play classical music and are defined by competitiveness – which isn’t really a part of what SC&T stands for.
There is a rich history in Scotland of fiddle orchestras.
Ronnie explains that that history stretches back to the 19th century. The (professional) Reel Players of Scotland (1856) are thought to have been among the first to perform Scottish dance music in concert halls. From 1869, the first amateur group was established in Dundee: the Dundee Scottish Musical Society. In 1881, the Edinburgh Highland Reel & Strathspey Society was formed.
From that time onwards, almost every other town in Scotland has had a fiddle orchestra-style group in the form of local Strathspey & Reel Societies.
In the North East of Scotland, especially, the tradition remains very strong.
There are numerous examples of this type of group:
- Garioch Fiddlers (Inverurie);
- Ythan Fiddlers (Ellon);
- Stoney Fiddlers (Stonehaven); and
- Strathbogie Fiddlers (Huntly).
Each of these groups is most welcoming of new members but there are two main hurdles to joining, particularly for adult players, in Ronnie’s view:
- You need to be a fluent reader of music; and
- You need to be able to play at fast tempos.
Which is where the new class comes in …
Ronnie’s hope is that, after a couple of terms of the class, participants will have the confidence to go on to join a group, such as one of those listed above.
Though some of the groups have junior sections to bring on new talent, there is a perceived lack of training for adult learners wanting to join in this sort of music making.
Whether you want to go on to join a Strathspey & Reel Society or not, the class provides an opportunity for players who mainly play by ear to improve their sheet music reading skills.
The types of tunes to be covered will include the mainstays of the Scottish repertoire: Reels; Strathspeys; Jigs; Waltzes; Hornpipes.
SC&T already offers a wide range of classes and workshops. We hope the Fiddle Orchestra classes will prove to be popular and – as Ronnie says – above all, fun.
The photo of the SFO was taken on 08 September 2012.
It was taken just before our Glasgow Royal Concert Hall gig that evening. The SFO returns to the Royal Concert Hall on Saturday, 17 September 2016 at 7.30pm and tickets can be booked online.
It would be lovely to see you there.