Press Releases

Fast, faster, furious

Scottish fiddler tipped to wow audiences

Kirsty Macnicol
The Southland Times
July 12, 2000

A genuine Scottish fiddler has joined the cast of Pipin' Hot this year and is giving even the fastest pipers a run for their money.

The City of Invercargill Caledonian Pipe Band's annual production is due to open at Invercargill's Civic Theatre on Wednesday next week for a seven-show season.

Headlining the guest acts is Sheena Naughton, a classically-trained violinist whose forte is furiously fast fiddling.

Born in Sierra Leone, Naughton moved to Aberdeen, Scotland, when she was three. She was seven when she began learning violin at school.

"At nine or 10 I discovered fiddle music but my violin teacher wouldn't let me play it because she said it was bad for technique," she said.

"It's really easy to recognise that's the fun stuff to play." She gave the instrument away for a few years after leaving school but while at university in Glasgow her temptation for the fiddle was rekindled.

Four fiddlers were playing in a pub one day and she asked if she could have a go. The Furious Fiddlers continued to grow in size.

They played at pubs and went busking. By the end of the year they numbered about 25.

Naughton was about 25 when she moved to London, keeping up her musical interest by joining a couple of chamber orchestras and a folk club. Music was a good way of meeting people, she said. Through the folk club she joined a band called Howl at the Moon and started started doing regular gigs. In 1995 they released a CD and in 1998 got their biggest audience when they played at London's Theatre Royal.

Last year she holidayed in New Zealand, liked it and, after returning home, applied for a job a Southern Health's human resources manager.

She moved here on a two-year permit in October, not knowing anyone.

Music again seemed the logical way to make friends and she found herself in Masterpiece Music, owned by Brad MacClure. They found they shared an interest in folk music and that afternoon they were jamming with three or four others. The group formalised as Weasel in the Dyke and has been playing at various folk festivals and small gigs ever since.

The invitation to perform in Pipin' Hot had offered a new set of challenges, Ms Naughton said. It was the first time she had played with bagpipes.

"I didn't think I'd be able to accommodate the pipe keys so I've had to do quite a lot of work... that's been good discipline for me." She loved pipe music and it has reminded her of home_although she said there was more Scottish culture in Southland than in England where she has lived more recently.

Pipin' Hot was her first big production and she was enjoying being a part of it.

"This is brilliant," she said.

"Absolutely superb."

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