Orkney’s Folky Folk

As part of next weekend’s Virtually Orkney Folk Festival, Kristan Harvey and Jeana Leslie from Fara have been out and about in the isles, getting to know some of the people behind Orkney’s rich folk scene.

Following their hugely successful Orkney Series in 2020, where Jeana and Kristan travelled around the county uncovering the stories behind weel kent tunes (originally planned for for just two episodes, but finishing up with 19!) – they are back within another series as part of the festival, this time putting the focus upon just some of our well known musicians and storytellers.

Over the last few weeks, the pair have been out and about filming Andy Cant, Billy Jolly, Bruce Mainland, Douglas Montgomery, Erika Shearer, Fionn McArthur, Frank Keenan, Jennifer Austin, Kenny Ritch Snr. and Tom Muir.

As Kristan explains: “As part of the Virtually Orkney Folk Festival, we were asked if we would do something quite similar to the Orkney Series, but this time on the people in Orkney who are really the stalwarts of the local music scene; some who would be seen very frequently around the festival, and others who are a bit more...

Virtual Fiddlers’ Rally!

Our annual Fiddlers’ Rally has been a cornerstone of the festival programme since our very first in 1983 – and this year is no exception!

For nearly four decades, the Fiddlers’ Rally has brought together a great many musicians from throughout Orkney and further afield, for massed performances of traditional tunes, led by the West Mainland Strathspey and Reel Society.

This year we are very excited to be hosting a virtual Fiddlers’ Rally, and invite musicians from anywhere in the world to join in!

We’ve recorded guide tracks to six sets of tunes – all you need to do is record yourself playing along to them by next Sunday (16 May), and we’ll piece them all together in one big virtual Rally, which will be shown during the Virtually Orkney Folk Festival weekend!

For more info. the guide tracks and sheet music:

Announcing: Virtually Orkney Folk Festival 2021!

Presenting a brand new, never-seen-before digital programme, 2021’s Virtually Orkney Folk Festival will feature exclusive performances from an international bill of leading folk artists from Scotland, England, Norway, Denmark and Canada – alongside a number of newly commissioned performances from homegrown Orcadian artists.

The four day event, streaming over the festival’s regular long weekend of May 27-30, brings numerous new concert performances and workshops, alongside iconic programme fixtures in a bid to recreate as much of the live event as possible – including Saturday night favourite, The Stomp, and the annual Fiddlers’ Rally; a cornerstone of the festival since its very first outing in 1983.

Renowned for profiling local Orkney talent alongside leading international artists for almost four decades, this year’s festival offering is no exception – featuring the online world premiere of a new suite of music composed by Orcadian fiddle and mandolin player, Graham Rorie. 

The Orcadians of Hudson Bay – inspired by Graham’s fellow islanders who travelled to The Hudson’s Bay Company in Northern Canada to make their living in the fur industry during the 18th and 19th centuries – features an all all-star band, of James Lindsay (double...

Orkney Folk Festival 2021

The 2021 Orkney Folk Festival, due to take place over May 27-30, is once again set to be a digital event, as a result of ongoing restrictions and uncertainty surrounding the covid-19 pandemic. 

Until very recently, we remained hopeful of being able to stage a live festival in the spring. Last year was the first time in our 38 years that the festival had ever been called off, and none of us thought for a second that we would have to do it again – let alone for a second consecutive year. Since last summer, we have been exploring, financially and logistically, a number of adaptations to the festival’s format – including the creation of an outdoor event, which would enable both social distancing and ventilation. 

However, the recent resurgence of covid-19 cases throughout Scotland and the UK, combined with associated lockdown restrictions upon both gatherings and travel, has created a rapidly-changing and ultimately unworkable backdrop upon which to plan for any live event just months away. As much as we would love to welcome everyone back to the festival in May, it seems that’s not to be just yet....