With just over five months to go until the 34th Orkney Folk Festival (May 26-29, 2016), the event’s organisers have this week announced four of the artistes scheduled to appear at the late May event.
World-renowned, Grammy-nominated Irish-American fiddler Liz Carroll; Mercury-nominated Tyneside vocal sister-act The Unthanks; the leading act on the Nordic fiddle scene, Finland’s finest Frigg; and the voice of Disney Pixar’s Brave, Gaelic songstress Julie Fowlis, are all making their way to Orkney over May 26-29, 2016.
These announcements come ahead of the full line-up release, which is scheduled for mid January. Acts still to be revealed include artistes from Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England and Shetland, as well as a great number from Orkney’s own thriving folk scene.
Born in Chicago of Irish parents, Liz Carroll is one of the world’s most renowned fiddlers and prolific composers, who has been touring for three decades both as a solo artist and with a number of collaborators. In 2010 she became the first Irish-American musician nominated for a Grammy, whilst in 2011 she was the first American-born composer honoured with the Cumadóir TG4 – Ireland’s most significant traditional music prize.
Mercury-nominated Tyneside sister-act The Unthanks explore the traditional music and songs of the North East of England, shaping with otherworldly harmonies and audacious arrangements, whilst drawing on influences ranging from Steve Reich to Tom Waits. Their eighth album, 2015’s Mount the Air, was released to huge critical acclaim, adding to their many plaudits, which include being the only British folk representation on The Guardian and Uncut’s selection of best albums from across the last decade, drawn from all genres and worldwide.
The leading act of the Nordic fiddle scene, Frigg features the premier talents of a generation of Finnish folk musicians. A smash at many of the world’s major folk festivals – including the Cambridge Folk Festival, Rainforest World Music Festival, Celtic Connections and WOMADelaide – the global world music media have also featured Frigg extensively. Frigg’s latest album, Polka V was selected as Finland’s Folk Album of the Year, and nominated for the prestigious Teosto Prize, awarded annually by Finnish composers – underlining the band’s commitment to self-penned material.
A multi-award winning and world-renowned Gaelic singer, Julie Fowlis has graced stages around the globe – from village halls in the Highlands, to singing live at the opening ceremony of the Glasgow XX Commonwealth Games, to a global TV audience of over one billion. With a career spanning ten years and four studio albums, she will forever be recognised for singing the theme song to Brave, Disney Pixar’s Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA winning animated film, set in the ancient Highlands of Scotland. Deeply influenced by her early upbringing in the Outer Hebridean island of North Uist, Julie made history in 2014 as the first Gaelic solo artist to win a Scottish Music Award.
Next year’s outing of the Orkney Folk Festival has a tough act to follow, with 2015’s being the most successful to date. For the first time in the event’s then 33-year history, more than 6,000 tickets were sold for concerts, ceilidhs, workshops and talks across the festival’s four days, with many sold out and total occupancy over 90% across the board.
This success was largely attributed to two high-profile press visits in 2014, from BBC Radio 2’s Folk Show and leading world music magazine, Songlines. During the hour-long Orkney Folk Festival special edition of the flagship BBC programme, presenter Mark Radcliffe hailed the festival to be; “an amazing and indelible few days”.
Orkney Folk Festival’s Artistic Director, Bob Gibbon, said: “Whilst it barely seems any time at all since this year’s festival, we’re very excited to announce the first handful of artists heading our way in May. These four are just a taste of what’s to come, but represent many of the key themes and traditions that we aim to bring together over the festival.
“With Liz Carroll we have not only one of the world’s best known fiddlers, but also prolific composers, whose tunes have entered the repertoires and session scenes the world over. Meanwhile Frigg are amongst Scandinavia’s finest exponents of Nordic music, and are undoubtedly Finland’s premier fiddlers – both solo and ensemble. On the song front, The Unthanks are one of the most talked about UK acts of the last decade, brilliantly reinterpreting the traditions of the North East of England and crossing over into the slightly mainstream sphere, whilst Julie Fowlis is one of Scotland’s best known voices – now, more than ever, having sang on Disney Pixar’s Brave, and at the opening ceremony of Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games, bringing the Gaelic tradition to a worldwide audience.
“These early announcements are just to whet appetites for the full cast that will be announced in January, and even then visiting acts are just one half of our programme – Orkney’s own thriving folk scene is very much the backbone of the festival. From veteran stalwarts to teenage prodigies, such a breadth of home-grown talent is rarely found elsewhere, and not only draws audiences from far and wide, but draws them back time and time again.”
Tickets for the 2016 Orkney Folk Festival will go on sale in the spring. Members of the festival’s Patronage scheme will receive advanced access to tickets, at least a week ahead of their general sale, as well as discounted ferry travel to Orkney from the Scottish mainland with NorthLink Ferries. To find out more about becoming a patron and supporting the festival year-round, or on any other aspect of the festival, head to www.orkneyfolkfestival.com.