Paul Anderson Scottish Fiddler

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Already something of a legend in the time honoured fiddle tradition of Scotland; Paul Anderson is the finest Scots fiddler of his generation. Although only in his forties, he is already something of an icon in Scotland, a fact duly recognised by two specially commissioned portraits of him, a life size one in Aberdeen Art Gallery and a study which is in the care of the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.

In the tradition of many of Scotland’s great fiddler’s, Paul is a composer of some repute, having composed over 300 pieces in the Scots style. His music provided the theme tune for the film “Red Rose” about the life of Robert Burns, Paul composed and recorded the theme music for the PBS television show, “Tartan TV” in the USA and in 2008 he was the musical director for HMT Aberdeen’s critically acclaimed production of “Sunset Song” by Lewis Grassic Gibbon. In 2008 Paul performed at a private reception for Prince Charles at Fyvie Castle to celebrate Prince Charles’ 60th birthday and in June 2010 he performed at an 80th birthday party in Edinburgh Castle for Sir Sean Connery at the request of the Scottish Government. In 2011 Paul performed at Scotland House in Brussels for members of the EU parliment and at a Burns Supper in the British Embassy.

During his competitive career Paul won most of the traditional fiddle championships in Scotland and in 1995 won Scotland’s premier fiddling event, the Glenfiddich Scottish fiddle championship which is held each year at Blair Castle.
A regular on Scottish T.V and radio, and in 2011 he presented a series of features on traditional Scottish music and song for the BBC Scotland programme “Landward.” Paul has toured extensively and recorded eight solo albums and over forty albums with artists like Pallas, Rock Salt and Nails, The Cutting Edge and the Banchory Strathspey and Reel Society. Paul regularly recites the poetry of Robert Burns and in 1993 he played the part of the young James Scott Skinner in the play “The Strathspey King”.Paul was brought up on the family dairy farm at Tarland near the Cairngorm National Park in the heart of rural Aberdeenshire, where at the age of five he discovered an old fiddle under his grandparents spare bed, an old French violin which he plays to this day.

He began classical tuition at Tarland primary school with Andy Linklater but before long joined the acclaimed Scots fiddle group, “The Banchory Strathspey and Reel Society.”

“I was brought up in a house where I can remember my dad reading Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson to me and where the music of “The Corries”, “Hector MacAndrew”, “Robbie Shepherd’s radio programmes” and “Johnny Cash” was often to be heard. When I stared fiddle lessons it was with the intention that I’d eventually be learning Scottish music.”

For a short time Paul then received private tutoring from Angus Shaw of Banchory before going on to study for several years with Douglas Lawrence of Buckie. Douglas was a Golden Fiddle Champion in 1979 and was the most acclaimed pupil of Hector MacAndrew, the finest Scots fiddler of the 20th century and a player who could trace his fiddling lineage directly back to Niel Gow and the Golden Age of Scottish Fiddle music. Gow is regarded as the father of Scottish fiddle music and was a legend in his own lifetime, having played for Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745 and being visited by Robert Burns during his highland tour; Hector’s grandfather was taught by James Mackintosh of Dunkeld who was the last pupil of Niel Gow. Therefore Paul is part of a teaching lineage which stretches right back to before 1745 and the time of Gow.
After leaving Aboyne Academy in 1987 Paul started working full time on the family farm but in 1998 took the decision to start playing professionally.

“I’d been extremely busy playing and was finding it difficult to cope with a day’s work on the farm which started at about 5.45.AM, followed by a nights playing and then quite often doing the same thing all over again the following day. I also didn’t want to be fifty years old and find myself wondering if I could have made it as a professional musician and being bitter old bugger because of it.”

Paul is also a highly regarded tutor and as well as solo tuition has led workshops and master classes from Aberdeen to Australia and from Banff to British Columbia. His pupils are regular championship winners across Scotland and in 2008 two came in 1st and 2nd at the Glenfiddich Scottish Fiddle Championship.

In 2003/2004 Paul was the Aberdeenshire town of Huntly’s fiddler in residence, the first time a fiddler has held such a post anywhere in the UK and in 2006 he began a three year AHRC research post at the Elphinstone Institute of the University of Aberdeen. His research which was believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, aimed to re-connect local musicians with the unique fiddle style of the North-East of Scotland. In 2009 the “Lochnagar Collection” of 208 of Paul’s original compositions was published by Highland Music Trust and as part of his Elphinstone Institute fellowship he compiled and edited “The Elphinstone Collection” of previously unpublished and out of print fiddle repertoire from the north-east of Scotland, which is published by “Tigh-na-Teud” in partnership with the Elphinstone Institute. As part of his work with the Elphinstone Institute he also compiled and produced the CD, “Hector MacAndrew, Legend of the Scots Fiddle” which was released in parnership with Greentrax recordings.

As well as writing articles and giving talks and lectures on the subject Paul has also given papers on the North-east fiddle style at the 2008 North Atlantic Fiddle Convention and the 2009 London fiddle conference.
In 2008 Paul was instrumental in re-establishing a fiddle championship at the Aboyne Highland Games after a 140 year break and in 2009 in association with the Aberdeen Arms in Tarland founded the “Cromar Folk Club” which meets on the last Friday of every month.

In 2011 Paul’s composition “Luskentyre” was performed by Kristan Harvey (Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2011) and The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in The Caird Hall, Dundee as part of BBC Scottish Proms. Also in 2011 Paul was invited to give a private performance for HRH Queen Elizabeth II at Crathie in Deeside.
Past performances include, seven cruises with the National Trust for Scotland, Celtic Connections (Glasgow), The Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention 2001 (Aberdeen) 2006 (Aberdeen) 2008 (St John’s, Newfoundland) 2010 (Aberdeen), 2012 (Derry), the Lorient Interceltic Festival (Brittany), The Fiddler’s Spectacular (HMT Aberdeen), Orkney Folk Festival, Shetland Folk Festival, the Snowdon Fiddle Festival in North Wales, the Glenties fiddle festival in Donegal, N.A.T.O’s only Burns Supper in Brussels,Glen Innes Celtic Festival (NSW Australia), and the MacRobert Hall (Tarland).

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