The concept for this album, produced by Anna-Wendy Stevenson and Iain Macdonald, was to develop compositional skills and to build on musical connections with Uist musicians. Five out of the 14 tracks on the album feature guest artists Rona Lightfoot, members of Runrig, Fred Morrison, Iain MacDonald, Kathleen MacInnes. The other 9 tracks include compositions from every member of the group and are augmented with accompaniment from music teachers Robert Gillies and Joanne Veverka on bass and piano. Over the past few years Flying Fiddles have performed many high profile events including the Celtic Colours festival in Cape Breton, Celtic Connections Festival, Martyn Bennett Night, Edinburgh Fiddle Festival and with Julie Fowlis on BBC Alba Christmas Programme 2008 'Nollaig bho na h'Eileanan' .
Flying Fiddles featured on this recording: Christina Campbell, Ealasaid Dick, Lachie Dick, Mairi Gilfedder, Amy MacAulay, Eilidh MacLeod, Kirsty MacMillan.
Special Guest Musicians: Kathleen MacInnes (Vocals Track 3); Iain MacDonald (pipes Track 5, bodhran Track 4&12, flute Track 10, whistle Track 6&14); Rory MacDonald, Calum MacDonald, Malcolm Jones & Brian Hurren of Runrig (Track 7); Rona Lightfootvocals (Track 11); Fred Morrison (pipes Track 12); Allan Henderson (piano Track 3); Alasdair MacDonald (pipes Track 8); Seonaidh MacIntyre (pipes Track 8); Will Lamb (bouzouki Track 5).
An overview from Anna-Wendy Stevenson
The Flying Fiddles are a group of young musicians from the Islands of Uist in the Outer Hebrides - the Islands which lie off the far North West coast of Scotland. Formed in the year 2000, the group was started and funded by local community group Gleus with fiddler Deirdre Morrison as their tutor. After a couple of years Ceolas - South Uist's Gaelic Arts organisation - provided the ongoing commitment to fund the weekly tuition which took place at the local high school, Sgoil Lionacleit, of which they were all pupils.
Flying Fiddles: Benbecula Night, Celtic Connections 2008
The Flying Fiddles started performing frequently around the Uists and in 2004 Deirdre took the group to the Fiddle Festival in Edinburgh. Accompanied on guitar and piano by their school music teachers Robert Gillies and Pauline MacDonald they were a festival hit. In 2006 Deirdre moved to the mainland and I moved to Uist to take up post as traditional music Lecturer with Lews Castle College Benbecula. I took on Deirdre's role as tutor with Flying Fiddles. It was my aim to share my passion for composing and arrangement and to develop the group's identity and confidence as young people from Uist writing music inspired by their own environmnet and experiences. The concept for this album was to develop compositional skills and to build on musical connections. We have done this by inviting professional musicians with Uist connections to hold an intensive workshop on a single piece of music which is arranged, performed and recorded in a very short space of time. Musicians included Iain MacDonald, Rona Lightfoot, members of Runrig, Fred Morrison and Kathleen MacInnes.
The rest of the album features instrumental music composed by the individuals in the group - each one of them a composer in their own right. The Flying Fiddles are fortunate to be joined for concerts and on this CD by music teachers Robert Gillies on guitar and bass and Joanne Veverka on piano.
Deirdre and I were close friends of the late musical inspirer Martyn Bennett. Deirdre played with Martyn in his band Cuillin Music, and I knew Martyn from when we played together in youth orchestras and then as fellow musicians in Edinburgh. After a gap created by touring in our seperate bands, our friendship was rekindled at Ceolas 2001. In 2007 the Flying Fiddles performed at a memorial concert for Martyn at the Queens Hall in Edinburgh. This was a profound experience for all - the Flying Fiddles made a huge impact with their own compositions, they perofrmed alongside some of Scotland's top musicians who performed a colourful programme of music which showed how Martyn took inspiration from several different cultures and genres.
We have been able to record this album as a result of generosity from various individuals and organisation; the afore-mentioned Ceolas, and the Martyn Bennett Trust which "seeks to support young musicians who seek, through the medium of music, to bring the spirit, eloquence and beauty of marginalised voices and cultures to audiences that might otherwise never be aware of them". The Martyn Bennett Trust grant has already succeeded in its aim as the Flying Fiddles, based in their remote and beautiful culture have contributed with and peformed their creations to enthralled audiences locally, on the mainland UK and as far afield as Cape Breton, Canada where they performed at the Celtic Colours and Feis Mhabou festivals in 2008.