WILLIE HUNTER

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Willie Hunter

Biography


Biography

Born February 1933, Shetlands, Scotland. Died 27 January 1995. Hunter is widely regarded as one of the greats of Shetland fiddling, having done much to rejuvenate that tradition alongside the more celebrated Aly Bain. Distinctively, Shetland fiddling relies as much on the Scandinavian and Irish traditions as the Scottish, preferring fast reels and four-part bars to propel both improvised and ceremonial tunes - and Hunter was one of the best examples of this technique. His father, Willie senior, was also well versed in it, and was a fiddler of note in his own right (briefly recorded on Greentrax Records' Shetland Fiddle Music alongside his son). As well as by his father, Willie was instructed from an early age (he began playing at four and stated to know a number of tunes competently by the age of five) by Gideon Stove from Lerwick and Geoffrey Di Mercado, who provided classical violin training. An early duo was formed with his sister Lorna before he joined a succession of country dance bands which eventually led him to the Hamefarers (one album in 1974). Though he rarely left the isles, his apprenticeship was completed by meeting peers such as Hector McAndrew and Angus Fitchet (an accompanist to Jimmy Shand) from the mainland, and later, Irish fiddler Sean Maguire. He went to London in 1958 to perform with "Peerie" Willie Johnson at the Royal Festival Hall as part of a celebration of Britain's varied folk traditions, and the duo teamed up once more for a series of workshops and concerts in the 80s. By this time he had retired from his laundrette business and used much of his spare time to teach fiddle to Shetland children as well as playing weekend dances with friends such as the Yell Band and Culleyvoe Band. He also continued to work with pianist Violet Tulloch, with whom he recorded his only solo album in 1982.




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