Connecting cultures with international fiddle and dance festival

Connecting cultures with international fiddle and dance festival

The UK’s biggest fiddle and dance event is set to attract thousands of people to Aberdeen this summer as the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention (NAFCo) draws an international line-up of guest performers to the city and the region.

Organised by the University of Aberdeen’s Elphinstone Institute, in partnership with SCaT (Scottish Culture and Traditions), NAFCo 2006 is one of the largest events of its kind in the world that celebrates fiddle and dance traditions from countries as far afield as Canada and the US, to Ireland, England, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Lithuania, and of course Scotland.

A host of talented musicians and dancers from all these countries and more will entertain North-East audiences from July 26 – 30, 2006, in venues across the region. Over 60 workshops will be held over the course of the four-day festival, which also features concerts, ceilidhs, busking trails, and sessions.

NAFCo proved an overwhelming success when it was last held in Aberdeen in 2001, attracting almost 3000 people to the city. Festival organisers are hoping this summer’s event will break all box office records.

Dr Ian Russell, Director of The Elphinstone Institute, and co-organiser of NAFCo 2006, said: “We are delighted to be holding this unique festival in Aberdeen which is the ideal setting for a celebration of this kind.

“The North-east of Scotland is famous for its fiddle tradition and we hope to share this captivating sound with audiences from all over the world.”

NAFCo is a unique event in the UK in terms of its size and its international programme of guest musicians, dancers and other performers.

In conjunction with the festival, a conference will be held on the theme “Connecting Cultures” during which enthusiasts and researchers will explore the role of fiddling, fiddlers and associated dance in social, ethnological and musical contexts in the past, present and future. Several keynote speakers at the conference are world-renowned authors and eminent scholars in the field of fiddle music and dance, which will be announced at a later date.

NAFCo 2006 has received the backing of a host of well-known traditional music and dance figures from the local area, including well-known fiddler Paul Anderson who is recognised as one of the most exciting fiddle players to come out of Scotland in recent years. In November 2005, Paul began an academic fellowship at the University’s Elphinstone Institute to carry out a three-year research project into the future of traditional Scottish music in modern society. Paul, who lives in Tarland, is travelling across the North-east as part of his research, believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, which aims to explore the underlying musical dialects of the North-east fiddle tradition.

Other highlights from Scotland include: Aonghus Grant, Douglas Lawrence, Iain Fraser, Karen Steven, Mats Melin, James Alexander, Carmen Higgins and Sara Reith.

Other confirmed artists include: dynamic fiddle and cello duo Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas who have a worldwide following; well-known Canadian fiddler Jerry Holland accompanied by Kimberley Fraser; fiddling divas Catriona MacDonald, from Shetland, and Annbjorg Lien, from Norway; and a traditional music and dance group from Sweden led by Göran Premburg.

NAFCo will link up with a number of local, national and international arts and cultural organisations and has received the support of the City of Aberdeen. The arts venue The Lemon Tree, will be the official NAFCo Festival Club where concerts and dance events will be held every night of the festival.

Dr Russell added: “We have secured some of the biggest names in fiddle and dance in the North Atlantic, which is a real testament to the global profile of NAFCo. The festival is a truly international celebration of fiddle and dance from all over the northern parts of the world.

“NAFCo will be full of richness and diversity and we are encouraging anyone with an interest in music, singing, or dancing, to come along to our events in July to sample the buzz of this wonderful multi-cultural event.”

The official launch of NAFCo 2006 will be held in early summer when the full programme will be unveiled.

Tickets for NAFCo 2006 events will be on sale from Saturday, April 1, and available by contacting The Elphinstone Institute on +44 (0) 1224 272996 or email@ NAFCo@abdn.ac.uk or visit: www.abdn.ac.uk/Elphinstone/nafco

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