Are you here to register for the 2023 Competitions? Registration will be here
The VSG Fiddling Tent showcases traditional and modern music from the Scottish tradition, including Cape Breton, Shetland, and related styles. In addition to fun and engaging performances, the Fiddling Tent is also a welcoming location for workshops on traditional fiddling and a fiddling competition sanctioned by SFIRE, the North American association for Scottish Fiddling. Some of the VA Scottish Games fiddling competition winners have gone on to win the US National Scottish Fiddling Competition!
A long-standing tradition at the Virginia Scottish Games is a command performance given by Elke Baker, internationally-known performer, champion fiddler and musical director of the Potomac Valley Scottish Fiddle Club. Elke brings her incomparable skill, energy, and knowledge to her performances. Just try not tapping your feet or clapping your hands! Here she teams up with long-time musical collaborator Ken Kolodner for an inspiring musical performance
There is a keen magic when Glencoe Lads take to the stage in their kilts and fiddles. National Champion Fiddlers Seán Heely and Colin McGlynn perform lively dance music from Scotland, Cape Breton, and Ireland to modern day tunes in the American tradition. From elegant, haunting slow airs, mighty pipe marches, and the wild strathspeys and reels. The Glencoe Lads have a charismatic stage presence and an unforgettably electrifying collaboration that is sure to get every toe tapping! They have performed at such venues as The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C, Alasdair Fraser’s Fiddle camp in the Isle of Skye, Scotland, Virginia Scottish Games, The Acadia Trad School of Music and Arts in Bar Harbor, ME, and The Niel Gow Festival in Dunkeld Scotland.
Champion fiddler and singer Seán Heely is one of the most creatively versatile and captivating young artists of his generation. He is a U.S National Scottish Fiddle Champion as well as an award-winning Irish Fiddler, singer, and harpist in the folk and Gaelic traditions of Scotland and Ireland. Seán holds a degree from University of South Carolina in Classical Violin Performance and was a 2019 Artist in Residence at Strathmore Music Center in Maryland. An educator in demand, Seán is an Adjunct Instructor at American University, he has also been on the faculty at several summer camps such as Acadia Traditional School of Music and Arts, Upper Potomac Fiddle Retreat, and Fiddle Hell Festival. He has performed in Scotland, Ireland, South America, Germany and at prestigious venues in the U.S such as the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C and Strathmore Music Center.
The Devil’s Tailors
Based in the Alexandria, VA area, The Devil’s Tailors have been performing Scottish and Celtic music since 2008 at pubs and festivals throughout the DC area, featuring music that spans four hundred years of this living tradition. Combining instrumental dance sets with Scots and Gaelic song, they perform music which echoes not only that from their native lands, but that brought by immigrants to these shores, which would form some of the oldest roots of our own American folk traditions.
Elke Baker and Liz Donaldson formed Terpsichore in 1992 as a duo. In 1993 Ralph Gordon joined them and Terpsichore performs in both trio and duo configurations. Terpsichore also expands for a big band sound with guest musicians. Our past guests have included Calum MacKinnon, Marty Taylor, and Earl Gaddis. Terpsichore is widely regarded as one of the leading Scottish dance bands of North America, and has played for Scottish country dance events all over the U.S. and Canada. Terpsichore is also a favorite for English-Scottish events, since the players are equally talented in English country dance repertoire. Terpsichore also plays American contradance and couple dance music and concerts, and has played at the Kennedy Center.
Made up of musicians at all levels, all walks of life, and playing many instruments (though mostly fiddle), the Potomac Valley Scottish Fiddle Club is a great place to learn about and share the traditional fiddle music of Scotland. For nearly 30 years, the club has met once a month from October to May, enjoying a workshop taught by Music Director Elke Baker, followed by a potluck dinner and a jam session. The club performs locally at several events each year, and the Virginia Scottish Games is pleased to be one of these. The club also puts on Scottish Country Dances and dance demonstrations with the Northern Virginia branch of the RSCDS. Many of the other musicians you will hear in the Fiddle Tent are members!
FIDDLE TENT SCHEDULE
09:30 AM Fiddling Workshop with Elke Baker11:00 AM Potomac Valley Scottish Fiddle Club12:00 PM Closed for Opening Ceremonies12:30 PM Elke Baker01:45 PM Glencoe Lads03:00 PM The Devil's Tailors04:15 PM Elke Baker and Ken Kolodner
09:00 AM Fiddling Competition – On-site Registration10:00 AM Fiddling Competition – Performances12:15 PM Fiddling Competition – Awards Ceremony01:00 PM Glencoe Lads02:15 PM Elke Baker and Ken Kolodner03:30 PM Tweedsyde
SCOTTISH FIDDLE COMPETITION
Come hear the best young (and not so young) aspiring fiddlers in a contest of skill and musicianship at the fiddle contest. Broken into Junior Novice, Novice, Junior (under 17), and Open categories, the full competition set includes a slow air, then a pause, followed by a medley made up of a march, a Strathspey, and a reel. Contestants are judged on technique, faithfulness to the Scottish idiom, and expression. After the competition, stick around while the judge’s decision is considered and listen to an impromptu jam session hosted by the competitors! Registration can be through the VSG website; fill in the web form above (signature will be required on the day of the contest). Same-day registration is offered until the contest commences. Your paid ticket to the games is your registration fee. More information about the requirements of the contest, such as tunes and etiquette, can be found at Scottish Fiddling Revival’s (SFIRE) website in the “Competitions” section. Further questions may be directed to the VSG's Fiddle Chair, Chandler Becker.
History of Scottish Fiddling
Since its introduction to Scotland at the end of the seventeenth century the violin – often under the name given to older bowed instruments, namely "fiddle" – has been central to the music of Scotland, from the Scandinavian-influenced Orkney and Shetland islands, through the wild dances and mournful airs of the Gaelic Highlands, to the ballrooms and performance halls of the cities, through the Scots lowlands and borders. The music composed for fiddle ranges from the simple anonymous folk tune to the refined compositions of one of Scotland ’s great 18th and 19th century composers, through the modern syncopated influences of today’s musicians. Scottish Fiddling is thus a living tradition, steeped in the past, existing in the present, and anticipating the future. It draws influences from, and influences in return, song the other great instrumental traditions of Scotland, such as harp and bagpipe. Scottish fiddle music is also unique in the Scottish arts in how it was influenced by Continental music traditions, and how its sounds and rhythms have formed much of the foundation of the fiddle music of the New World. The Scottish Fiddling Tent represents all aspects of this living tradition, from the judge’s instruction, where style points are discussed, to the fiddle competition, where today’s fiddlers are encouraged to achieve their highest potential, to the many concerts and performances showcasing this area’s rich and deep pool of talent on the Scottish fiddle and the instruments that accompany it.