Shona flowers as forest fiddler

Fiddle player Shona Mooney.
Fiddle player Shona Mooney.

Selkirk-based fiddler Shona Mooney has composed six pieces of music inspired by Northumberland National Park.

The talented 29-year-old Borderer, who is already recognised as one of Scotland’s top traditional musicians, has worked in Scottish Borders Council’s arts development service at St Mary’s Mill since 2007, teaching the fiddle and tin whistle to primary school children around the region.

The former BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year has just completed a masters degree in music at Newcastle University which led her to create six new musical pieces called “Sensing the Park” in a project run by Northumberland National Park and Northumbrian Exchanges.

“The composition depicts the four regions of the park: Cheviot, Coquetdale, North Tyne, and Redesdale and Hadrian’s Wall,” she told The Wee Paper.

“I have explored legends from these areas and taken inspiration from Northumbrian manuscripts to produce new music that evokes a distinct sense of place.”

The names of her six pieces are: for Coquetdale, Black Rory’s Grey Hens and Archie Dagg (after a local forest fiddler and pipe-maker); for Redesdale, The Last Sheep Sale and Red Squirrels of Hareshaw Linn; Hadrian’s Wall has Cawfield’s Dark Sky, and Cheviot has a Border ballad called Black Adam of Cheviot, read by Selkirk’s own John Nichol.

Shona’s band, The Mosstroopers, will play three performances over the border in Northumberland, each lasting 45 minutes, with Shona on fiddle, Paul Knox on Northumbrian pipes, clog-dancer Amy Thatcher on accordion, Andy Watt on guitar and David de la Haye on bass.

The evenings will also feature traditional music from Northumberland and the Borders.

“It’s been quite a challenge, but it’s been a really nice opportunity to write new music, and develop your own sound,” she told us.

Shona grew up into a musical family in Lauder: her dad Gordon, a piper, researched and passed on to her all his old Border piping tunes, while her mother Barbara, a music teacher, is a classical bassoon player.

“My parents gave me a folk, traditional sound, but in the classical manner,” she explained.

Shona’s concert dates are February 14 in Bardon Mill Village Hall, February 28 in Alwinton Church and March 14 in Bellingham Town Hall.

All start at 7:30pm. Tickets cost £3 on the door and all proceeds go towards sustaining the Tarset Ceilidh Band.