Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Favorite Fiddlers

I've loved fiddle music for a long time and there are so many amazing fiddlers out there that I deeply admire. This is a list of my top favorites - the ones who inspire me the most. While they are all excellent "traditional" musicians, it is their original compositions that I am the most impressed and awed by. And, yes, the majority of this list is comprised of Scottish fiddlers :) To find out more about any of them or to hear some of their music, just click on their names.

Lauren MacColl - my favorite fiddler overall. Her playing is so incredibly beautiful and exquisite and I am truly in awe of her talent. Her music is quite magical in general, but few can match the emotion she puts into her slow airs. She plays with a skill far beyond her years.

Annbjørg Lien - absolutely amazing hardanger fiddler from Norway. I've admired her for a long time. I love that she's not afraid to take risks and explore new territory, yet even her most experimental pieces are rooted in tradition. Definitely my favorite Norwegian fiddler.

Sarah-Jane Summers - a wonderful Scottish fiddler who plays both the standard and the hardanger fiddles. Her music is so textural and lovely. There is something very exciting and addictive about her tunes.

Duncan Chisholm - amazing Highland fiddler. Like Lauren, his slow airs will leave you aching. His music, in general, is incredibly beautiful.

Katherine Liley - another delightful Scottish fiddler! I really like her playing style. She has a sort of "grunge" fiddle sound going on that gives her slow tunes a bit of rawness and the fast tunes a playful edge. I find her music fresh & fun.

Alasdair Fraser - the first Scottish fiddler I ever heard. He truly is a master of the fiddle and in a league of his own. I'm awed by the sounds he can coax from his fiddle. He has done a lot of good things for traditional music, especially here in the U.S.

Natalie MacMaster - she is the one who started it all for me. I saw her on a fluke 12+ years ago and it was the first time I'd seen/heard fiddle-driven trad music. I haven't looked back since. I've really enjoyed listening to her music evolve over the years. She works ceaselessly to promote the traditional music of Cape Breton.

Annlaug Børsheim - she is an incredibly talented hardanger fiddler from Norway, though she also has a fine voice! Her compositions are out of this world and have been performed by numerous other folks, including Sarah-Jane Summers. Ranks second only to Annbjørg on my list of favorite Norwegian fiddlers.

Hanneke Cassel - my favorite fiddler from this side of the pond. Her style ranges from edgy & fiery to tender & poignant. She has a very contemporary feel to her and she doesn't hesitate to incorporate new styles.

Sigrid Moldestad - another fantastically talented hardanger fiddler from Norway. Not only do I love her solo work, I also love her work with Spindel and Gamaltnymalt. A very fresh approach to traditional music.

Catriona MacDonald - I first heard Catriona as part of the String Sisters project. Fantastic Shetland fiddler who blends traditional and contemporary sounds. I enjoy her work with Blazin Fiddles just as much as her solo stuff.

Shona Mooney - a fiddler from the Scottish Borders. Though I've heard her works with Border Young Fiddles and The Shee, I think her solo stuff is incredible. It has a bit more experimental flavor than that of most of the other Scottish fiddlers.

Patsy Reid - most of her stuff is fairly traditional but her latest solo work is a blending of classical and traditional and it's phenomenal! It really showcases her talents as a composer. It's one of the most exciting recordings I've heard in a while.

Susanne Lundeng - a fiddler from the northern region of Norway. Her original compositions have an edginess, almost a wildness, to them that I haven't really heard amongst most other Norwegian fiddlers. She melds traditional music with contemporary styles beautifully.

Celtic Fiddle Festival - originally Kevin Burke, Christian LeMaitre, and Johnny Cunningham (later Andre Brunet after Johnny's passing). All of them are phenomenal fiddlers in their own right, but I love their work as a group even more than their individual stuff, which is saying a lot.

Fiddlers' Bid - there are 4 fiddlers in the group, most of whom also have solo careers. They hail from the Shetland Islands and, moreso than with other groups/artists, there is a strong Nordic influence evident in their music. I find their music a joy to listen to.

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