The Isles Gathering

The award winning Shetland and Orkney Folk Festivals are joining forces this year to form an exciting collaboration project that will further celebrate and showcase the rich musical heritage and distinctive folk culture of the Northern Isles.

Inspired by the success of the Orkney Gathering project, which premiered at the 2011 Orkney Folk Festival and sold out Glasgow’s legendary Old Fruitmarket at Celtic Connections in 2013, “The Isles Gathering” will unite several generations of Shetland and Orkney musicians for two exciting performances in May.

Joint musical directors Douglas Montgomery and Margaret Scollay will each bring together 12 musicians to form the concerts’ house band, with each performance also featuring other guest musicians native to the hosting islands.

Many of those involved in the original Orkney project will also be part of the Isles Gathering, including veteran moothie ace Billy Jolly; Kristan Harvey, the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2011; accordion whiz Billy Peace and multi-award winner Kris Drever who forms one third of the folk powerhouse Lau.Three familiar faces from The Chair will also join them – Brian Cromarty, Eric Laughton and Gavin Firth as well as Jeana Leslie, Andy Cant, Fionn McArthur and Jen Austin.

Joining them will be a cast of Shetland’s finest musicians – from teenage fiddle star Liza Fullerton, to dance band legends Jim Halcrow and Peter Wood as well as the acclaimed singer/songwriters Freda Leask and Sheila Henderson. Three members of Shetland’s hugely popular up and coming folk band Väir, Lewie Peterson, Ryan Couper and Jonny Polson will join the crew as will Loris MacDonald, Lois Nicol, Iain Williamson and Jack Robertson. Two musicians of “dual citizenship” complete the lineup; Shetland singer and fiddler player Jenny Keldie and Orcadian-born Andrew Gifford, of Shetland’s Fiddlers’ Bid.

With both veteran Festivals famed for their programming of outstanding local talent over the past thirty years, the involvement of both well established and up and coming musicians is absolutely key to the project – instantly illustrating the significance local musicians have in preserving the Festivals’ fame and for continuing the Northern Isles’ vibrant musical heritage.