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Orkney fiddler and composer Fiona Driver ready for Out of the Box evening of classical and folk music at Inverness St Andrew's Cathedral

By Kyle Walker

FOLK and classical music are set to collide at Inverness Cathedral this weekend, with the first ever Out of the Box concert.

The night will see a procession of musicians who cross both styles of music take to the church’s stage, with a programme blending traditional reels and classical numbers, alongside numbers from the Nordic and Swedish folk traditions.

And for concert organiser, Orcadian fiddler and composer Fiona Driver, the fusion of styles seemed the obvious thing to do. “Three of these players are in the UK’s top orchestras!” she explains. “The two viola players, Katherine Wren and David Martin, they both play in the RSNO professionally – that’s what they do for a living.

“And David Chadwick was with the English National Opera, and now he’s been trying out with another Scottish orchestra.

“So we have three classical players that are also really keen on folk – David’s playing the [Swedish traditional instrument] Nyckelharpa and the two viola players love Nordic music as well.

“So I’m kind of wanting to cross the genre boundaries – because I play both. So why not? Why do you always go to concerts and it’s always one thing or another thing? Why is there never a mix? It’s all just music!

“The question should be, do you like it or do you not like it? Is it good music or not? And if you like it, then mix it up a bit!"

Orcadian fiddler Fiona Driver is organising Out of the Box.
Orcadian fiddler Fiona Driver is organising Out of the Box.

The three aforementioned musicians’ performances on the night form just part of the Out of the Box programme. There will also be performances by Fiona and her husband, Shetland fiddler Trevor Hunter.

Also playing on the night will be Scottish piper Lea Macleod, and 2019 junior NAAFC fiddle champion Anya Johnston. “It’s my husband Trevor who teaches her as well."

Sponsoring the concert is food and drink distributor JW Gray – and Fiona is keen to stress how grateful she and Trevor have been for their support. “That helps a great deal because the amount of advertising we’re doing has cost a fortune!” she laughs.

Putting on a concert has been at the forefront of Fiona’s mind since she and Trevor moved to Inverness in December 2018, “after me spending my whole life in Orkney and my husband spending his whole life on Shetland – including some of the time where we were married!”

"People always said to us, ‘Who’s going to move? Is Fiona going to move to Shetland or is Trevor going to move to Orkney?’ And we said, nope – we’re both going to leave and move to Inverness!

"The northern isles are wonderful, but after you’ve been there your whole life you just want to experience something else, so we thought right, we’ll move."

And moving here, Fiona was keen to immediately throw herself into what the city’s music scene had to offer. “When you land here, you don’t know anybody. I mean, I’ve just thrown myself into joining all the orchestras and music groups possible.

“I’ve been doing so much and wearing myself out, just to find out what was going on in the local area. And that got me into Ness Sinfonia and the Highland Chamber Orchestra, where I did two concerts in the cathedral.

“And that’s a great venue, so I thought, okay, if we’re going to have a concert then let’s do it there.”

Out of the Box – with Lea Macleod, Fiona Driver and Trevor Hunter, Anya Johnston, Katherine Wren and David Martin, and David Chadwick – will be staged at Inverness Cathedral on Friday night. Doors open at 6.30pm and entry costs £13 (under-16s £5) on the door or via pre-ordering – go to www.fionadriver.com for more details.

This copy was edited after publication to tidy up factual inaccuracies – Fiona's husband Trevor's surname is Hunter, not Martin; and Fiona played with Ness Sinfonia, not Symphonia. We apologise, and regret the errors.

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