Exciting Hamefarin Programme Takes Shape

11 March 2010

Plans for Shetland Hamefarin 2010 continue to take shape as the countdown for the event begins.

More than 300 people have already registered to attend the Hamefarin and the organisers are confident that the target of 450 Hamefarers will be met.  Just under half of those registered so far are from the UK (133) and a strong contingent from Australasia is also set to visit (56 Australia, 59 New Zealand).  The Americas are also well represented with 56 people signed up so far (49 America, 17 Canada).

The organising committee have been working closely with local community groups to ensure a wide range of events are planned and in some cases have commissioned groups to use their expertise to organise some special events.

In celebration of the music of the late Dr Tom Anderson MBE and to commemorate the 100th year since his birth, the Shetland Folk Festival Society are organising a Tammy Anderson Tribute Concert.  The concert will unite musicians from Shetland and Norway, all of whom have a direct connection with this legendary musician, composer and traditionalist.

The world-class line-up includes former student Aly Bain, often regarded as Scotland’s supreme fiddler, along with his world famous side-kick Phil Cunningham on accordion.  One of “Tammy’s Peerie Angels” and founding member of Shetland’s Young Heritage in 1981, Catriona Macdonald will also return home.  Catriona’s superb playing and great charisma have established her a worldwide reputation.  Representing Norway and Tom’s close connection with Norwegian music are Hardanger fiddlers Annbjørg Lien and Per Anders Buen Garnås.  And no Tammy Anderson Tribute would be complete without performances by the two fiddle groups founded by Dr Anderson, both of which are still going strong today – Shetland’s Heritage Fiddlers and the Shetland Fiddlers’ Society.

Also being organised by the Folk Festival’s capable hands is the Final Fling which showcases some of Shetland’s finest musical talent.  Headlining the Fling will be Fiddlers’ Bid, leading exponents of Shetland’s unique musical heritage and rich fiddle tradition.  Also confirmed to perform are firm favourites with audiences, Hom Bru, who have been playing their infectious blend of Shetland music since 1978.  Audiences will also be warmed to the terrific voice of Sheila Henderson whose band was described by none other than Albert Lee as “world class”.  Although Shetland is famed for its fiddle heritage, when it comes to straightforward country Sheila is in a class of her own. 

As the Final Fling draws to a close, some 400 guizers will be getting ready to light-up for a special Viking Parade involving all this year’s Jarl Squads from across Shetland plus the Lerwick Junior Jarl Squad.   Organised by the Lerwick Up Helly Aa Committee, the mass parade of guizers around Clickimin Loch will culminate in the burning of a specially adapted galley.

Hamefarers will get the chance to polish up on their dancing skills at the Hamefarin Dance, organised by Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Club.  The Alan Nicolson Dance Band and Cullivoe Dance Band will treat dancers to some top quality tunes for a night of traditional Shetland and Scottish dancing, a truly memorable occasion for all dance enthusiasts.

Central to the Hamefarin celebrations will be the Hamefarin Club hosted at Islesburgh Community Centre.  The Club will act as the hub of the activities,  a meeting place, an information point and will also host a number of exhibitions, informal workshops and talks.  The Shetland Family History Society will also be on hand to help Hamefarers research their family history and Shetland ForWirds will be promoting the Shetland dialect through displays and activities.

The Shetland Museum and Archives will be a crucial part of the Hamefarin experience. The Museum is holding a programme of lectures on Shetland life and issues, including lectures on crofting life, Shetland literature and, most pertinently, emigration.  They are also currently developing a Hamefarin exhibition From Old Rock to New Life which will tell the stories of islanders who emigrated from as far back as the 1500s right up to the present day.  The exhibition will include artefacts, documents and photographs of Shetlanders in their new lives. 

One of the most exciting events of the Hamefarin fortnight is the launch of Laughton Johnston’s book, A Kist of Emigrants. The book is a collection of stories and histories of the many emigrants who made their way around the world in search of fortune or simply a new home. The book tells the story of these early emigrants, many of whom played an important part in bringing industry to the wild frontiers of the time and is a fitting tribute to those who left Shetland in search of a new life.

Another key element of the Hamefarin is the programme of local area coach trips which will provide Hamefarers with an opportunity to tour Shetland and to meet with local history groups.  The network of local history groups are working hard to ensure that Hamefarers who visit them have a great day out.

Some community groups are already planning events during the Hamefarin fortnight, for example: the Lerwick Boating Club is hosting an open evening; the Swan Trust has scheduled a number of sailing trips; Lerwick’s Methodist Church is preparing a special exhibition and songs of praise; and the Shetland Library is holding an evening of poetry and readings.  Much more is being planned and we will announce details as they become available.

Leading the organisation of Shetland Hamefarin 2010 is Shetland Islands Council’s head of business development Douglas Irvine.  He said, “With so many enjoyable events in the programme it’s difficult to say what the highlight event is.  Hamefarers will certainly be treated to a wealth of local talent.  Many hamefarers will be coming to Shetland for the first time, some will be regular visitors and we are confident that we have a range of activities to suit all tastes.

“We are keen for local folk to get involved and be part of this very special event.  Many Shetlanders will be hosting family and friends from around the world and we hope that they will join in with all the events too.”

There are many more events being planned and we will announce details as soon as they become available.

Details of how to buy tickets for the various events will be announced soon.