Minnesota, Donegal, Aberdeenshire, Connecticut, London – these were just some of the diverse cities and regions from which musicians entered the inaugural ‘Fiddles and Faeries’ competition, part of a proposed Guinness Book of World Records fiddle-playing project.
And the ages and backgrounds of musicians also differed greatly.
They included a 12-year-old schoolgirl; a retiree from the east coast of America; a finalist in the Fiddler of London competition; a 21-year-old university student at the Irish World Academy in the University of Limerick; a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain; a 16-year-old transition year student at The Rosses Community School in Donegal; a dance accompanist at Trinity Laban Conservatoire; a Leaving Cert student at Pobalscoil Gaoth Dobhair in the largest Irish speaking Gaeltacht region; a musician from Kenmare, Kerry who has produced several CDs; and members of various ceilidh bands.
From Irish reels to jigs to Scottish hornpipes and strathspeys to Bluegrass dance tunes, the sheer array of musical selections was impressive.
Among the long list of titles were – Black Pat’s by Tommy Peoples; Laura’s Reel by Sligo fiddler and composer Philip Duffy; Donegal jigs Taibhse Chonaill and Ranafast; The Ewe Wi’ The Crooked Horn; Con Cassidy’s reel; Paddy Father’s Dream; The Gold Ring and Brigid of Knock; Old Grey Goose; Jake’s Got A Belly Ache from West Virginia fiddler Edden Hammons; Woah Mule from North Carolina fiddler Benton Flippen; The Road to Monalea and Spike Island Lasses; the Distillery Jig; Off to California; The Boys of Blue Hill; Maudabawn Chapel and Paddy Fahy’s Dream; and Morain, written by Dustin Smith, Bill Plattes and Philip Rampi in St Paul, Minnesota.
As our judges reported, such was the quality of the exciting talent on display it was not easy to decide the ultimate winner among the finalists of the five-minute, two dance tune online video competition.
“What was very uplifting was to see so many people from so many different countries, and of all ages, from the very young still at elementary school to older retirees, who simply love playing fiddle music,” said one judge. “And it is also very fitting that such a musical competition should emerge out of the Irish county of Donegal where fiddle-playing has been such a strong cultural tradition for so many generations. Great credit goes to the competition organisers. Keep up the good work.”
After much consideration, the list of finalists in the 2022 ‘Fiddles and Faeries’ competition are: Neil Kennedy, Sophie Ferry, Jamesie Wray, Eimear ní Chéilleachair, Ty Kelliher, Steve Blake, Seamus McGee, Megan Nic Fhionnghaile, Charlotte Slater, James Timothy Plattes, Ella Bruton and Gerry Harrington.
Each finalist will receive special ‘Certificates of Excellence’ and the winner 500 euro in prize money.
Congratulations to all those who entered the ‘Fiddles and Faeries,’ competition, you should be very proud of your masterful musicianship.
The winner will be announced in two weeks.