Scottish Fiddling

Fiddling in Scotland was primarily a social activity. Most towns and villages had a fiddler who performed for dances and other social occasions. Frequently, clan chiefs took fiddlers under their patronage. William Marshal, who composed a great many fiddle tunes, thrived under the patronage of the Duke of Gordon, and Neil Gow enjoyed the support of the Dukes of Atholl.

Following the 1745 Rising, the same proscriptions that banned the wearing of the kilt, also forbade the playing of bagpipes. During this time, it was the fiddle that saved much of Scotland’s musical heritage from extinction. It was also the fiddle that came with the Scottish immigrants to the mountains of the Eastern United States, and one can readily hear the Scottish jigs and reels in much of the mountain bluegrass and old-time music of today.

music, instrument, classic
GMHG_2021_RBR_Fiddle and Harp_0030


Robina Walker



Friday: 2-4pm

  • Scottish Fiddle competition novice, junior, open .Winner of each event performs a tune from their set (3 minus or less)at the Friday or Saturday evening concert  based on availability.

Saturday: 3-4pm

  • Scottish Fiddle Educational Jam - hosted by Mari Black.Winner of each event performs a tune from their set (3 minus or less) at the Friday or Saturday evening concert based on availability.

Sunday: 3-4pm

  • Traditional Scottish session - lead by Pickin' Thistles band.

About the Judge

Mari Black

Called “one of the brightest fiddlers around today” (Brian O’Donovan, WGBH radio’s A Celtic Sojourn), multistyle violinist and champion fiddler MARI BLACK delights audiences around the world with her energetic playing, sparkling stage presence, and dazzlingly virtuosic fiddling. Mari's dynamic performances are infused with her sense playfulness and deep love of the history behind the music, as she weaves together driving dance tunes with beloved stories that bring the music to life. Walk into any of her shows, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to see people out of their seats and dancing in the aisles!

Raised on a rich blend of traditional musical styles, Mari burst onto the international stage when she became Scotland’s Glenfiddich Fiddle Champion, 2-time U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, and 2-time Canadian Maritime Fiddle Champion, all within a three-year period.

Ever since, she has been spreading her love for dance-based music, performing as a featured artist at performing arts centers, Celtic festivals, Scottish Highland Games, celebrated folk venues, world music concert series, and acclaimed classical venues including Carnegie Hall. Favorite appearances include performing at the seaside Shalin Liu Performing Arts Center in Massachusetts, headlining at the North Texas Irish Festival, joining in with four legendary jazz drummers for “The Whole Drum Truth” at the Yale School of Music’s Ellington Fellowship concert series, and representing the U.S. at the “Festival of Champions” celebration concert at Blair Castle in Scotland. Mari can even be heard (and seen!) in the award-winning video game BioShock: Burial at Sea. She has appeared with such diverse artists as Irish fiddle master Liz Carroll, Americana master Mark O’Connor, and jazzman Willie Ruff, and has been named Canadian Novelty Fiddle Champion, 1st Prize Winner at the American Protégé International String Competition, and 2-time laureate at the American String Teachers’ Association Alternative Styles Awards. Mari has been featured on the BBC Radio Scotland’s “Take the Floor”, Fox and CBS morning news, and NPR’s “Here and Now,” and her debut album “Flight”has been featured on folk, Celtic, world music radio shows across the country. An enthusiastic collector of passport stamps, she has played concerts in Brazil, Scotland, Canada, China, Korea, Zimbabwe, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy, and France...and she can’t wait for the next stop! Currently touring nationally with her trio, Mari's favorite thing to do is sweep audiences away on a spirited musical adventure featuring dance music from around the globe: Celtic, American, and Canadian fiddling, jazz, tango, klezmer, folk, original works, and more!

Mari’s passion for dance-driven music extends far beyond the concert stage, as reflected in her work as a teacher, composer, dancer, competition judge, and musical ambassador committed to connecting people through music. Having earned her Doctorate in Education from Columbia University and a Masters in Performance from the Yale School of Music, Mari is a master teacher who is dedicated to helping students of all ages and levels explore the joy of making music. She teaches regularly at prestigious camps and workshops around the country, including appearances at the Swannanoa Gathering, the Acadia Trad School, the Jink & Diddle School of Scottish Fiddling, the Mark O’Connor fiddle camp, the Tanglewood Festival, the Yale School of Music, and more. Several of her students are now becoming champion fiddlers in their own right, winning top awards at the U.S. Scottish Nationals and other competitions. Mari’s ear-catching compositions draw on a broad range of stylistic influences, and have won several awards, including a Gold Medal from the MASC International Songwriting Competition. Some of her personal favorite compositions are featured on her debut album, “Flight”, released in 2014.

Mari is currently touring around the world with her bands, the World Fiddle Ensemble and her Celtic Band. In between shows, she still finds time to engage in collaborative projects with fellow artists, and host a series of YouTube videos called "Mari's Tune of the Month", where she teaches some of her favorite fiddle tunes. Click on these links and more to explore her many musical projects!


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