Fara brings together four leading musicians at the forefront of today’s Scottish folk scene – Jennifer Austin, Kristan Harvey, Jeana Leslie and Catriona Price’s three fiddles and a piano – to produce a fiery sound rooted strongly in their upbringing among the music of Orkney.
Following a nomination for Up And Coming Act of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards in 2015, the success of their debut album Cross The Line in 2016, lead to a nomination for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards’ Horizon Award. Fara also performed at 2017’s prestigious event in the Royal Albert Hall, to a rapturous response. (Click here
to watch their performance.) Also in 2017, Fara won the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Critics Choice Award) and were nominated for Folk Band of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards.
The four contrasting personalities and individual musical voices in Fara, make for a colourful melting pot – each member brings a different musical pallet to the table. But the strong Orkney fiddle tradition that the four women grew up on together, is the glue that binds them, and is at the heart of each of their musical characters.
The four members of Fara hold degrees from The Royal Academy of Music, The Royal Northern College of Music, The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and Strathclyde University. Their diverse activity with their other projects such as Blazin’ Fiddles, Jeana Leslie & Siobhan Miller, Rachel Sermanni, and Twelfth Day, as well as accolades including BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year, Deutsche Bank Award in Performance and Composition, and the Danny Kyle Award, hold them up as leading members of today’s Scottish music scene.
With vibrant arrangements full of rich harmonies, energetic fiddle playing and driving piano, Fara’s music is an exciting experience. With a mixture of self-penned and traditional Orkney tunes as well as stunning vocals, the young women’s combined musical experiences and friendships produce an exciting and individual sound.
Having been friends since early childhood, the girls grew up under the musical guidance of Douglas Montgomery (The Chair, Saltfishforty), Seona Dunsmuir, Jean Leonard and Hazel Wrigley, with the three East Mainlanders of the band in fiddle group Hadhirgaan at Kirkwall Grammar School, and Kristan, a West Mainlander, in Jenny Keldie’s Shoramere at Stromness Academy. The four girls then went on to study south, before reuniting to form Fara in 2014.
The idea for the band came after several appearances as “The Chairettes”, The Chair’s backing band. At one gig, the girls were asked to play a couple of sets on their own, and Bob Gibbon, The Chair’s Accordionist and Orkney Folk Festival director, suggested they form a new band. To the Chair’s disappointment they decided to loose the name, and Fara was born. Since then, the quartet has performed across the UK and Europe, and will make debut performances in the US, Canada, Sweden and Germany over 2018.
Fara’s second album will be released in October 2018.
“For me Fara were THE highlight of the 2014 Orkney Folk Festival. I saw every one of their gigs and they were exceptional. Their on stage banter and musicianship held every audience spellbound. I was thrilled to see them again at this year’s Celtic Connections in Glasgow, and there is an EP too. Sickeningly talented and mad as brushes. A potent combination. A real delight for any festival.”
– Kevin Macleod
“These girls will go far. They sing and play like they mean it.”
– Douglas Montgomery, Saltfishforty, The Chair
“The debut recording from Fara is perhaps one of the most exciting developments in recent years for music from the Northern Isles. Showcasing fired up instrumental sets as well as the beautiful vocals of Jeana Leslie, this recording is testament to the strength of the traditional music development in Orkney. The Northern Isles and indeed Scotland now have a new fiddle supergroup but this time, with an all female line up. I suspect that stages from near and far will be seeing and hearing a lot from these lasses over the coming months.”
– Mhari Pottinger, Shetland Folk Festival