The fabulous players from The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra (SFO) will be returning to Wigtown, the old stamping ground of one of its founders John Mason MBE, for the first time in 10 years.

They will open A Concert for Scotland’s Year of Stories, in the Festival Marquee on 24 September, with a tune called The Wigtown Book Festival, which has been specially composed by accordionist Freddy Prise.

Founded in 1980 to bring Scottish traditional music to a wider audience the SFO has played the biggest venues in the UK, from Aberdeen and Edinburgh to London’s Albert Hall. It has toured internationally and its albums are also enjoyed by fans all over the world.

John, whose father, James, was a sheriff clerk in Wigtown, attended the Douglas Ewart High School and was a familiar presence on stage, in his younger years, as part of the Morna Stewart Dance Band.

Jamie Mason, John’s son and an SFO double bass player, said: “It will be great to return to Wigtown and the roots of John Mason’s upbringing.

“He loved Galloway and there are a lot of people there who still remember him from playing with the likes of the Morna Stewart Dance Band, and with his great friend Ian Gillespie from Stranraer – and they had a folk club they ran at Lochnaw Castle.”

John studied law at the University of Edinburgh and was advised by his father to leave his fiddle behind so he could focus on his degree.

During the vacations he returned to their home in Newton Stewart and played all across Galloway. After graduating he joined the law firm AB and A Matthews in Newtown Stewart, before moving to Troon in 1968.

Jamie said: “Music was always my dad’s true passion. 

“The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra was the brainchild of my Dad and Gerry Crean, who was a surgeon in Glasgow. 

“Their idea was to put together an orchestra that would present really well-rehearsed music at larger venues.

“It would be more at the Black Tie and tartan end of the spectrum – concerts rather than gigs, but lots of fun and all about entertaining the audience.”

John, 1940-2011, was the SFO’s Principle Conductor and Musical Director.  He was a prolific composer – with some 600 pieces to his name, some set in Wigtown.

The SFO will be bringing around 40 musicians along for the concert, and will be conducted by Yla Steven, another of its founder members.

Some players will also be taking part in a Fiddlers’ Fair in the Festival Gardens in the centre of Wigtown on 25 September – all fiddlers are invited to go along and join in.

The last time it was in the area was to play at Bladnoch Distillery just outside Wigtown.

Wigtown Book Festival has a vibrant programme of more than 200 events for its annual 10-day annual celebration of all things literary in Scotland’s National Book Town.

This year’s festival (from 23 September to 2 October) is supported by EventScotland as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022. Among the guests will be:

  • Deacon Blue frontman Ricky Ross (Walking Back Home)
  • Karen Campbell (Paper Cup)
  • Robert Harris (Act of Oblivion)
  • Hannah Jackson, The Red Shepherdess (Call Me Red)
  • Chris Brookmyre (The Cliff House)
  • Gerda Stevenson (Letting Go)
  • Outlander star Graham McTavish (Clanlands)
  • Lisa Jewell & Will Brooker (The Truth About Lisa Jewell)
  • Andrew Cotter: Dog Days (A Year with Olive and Mabel)
  • Chitra Ramaswamy (Homelands)
  • Jeremy Bowen (The Making of the Modern Middle East).

Tickets are now on sale for a festival in which books are just the beginning and where stories will be told in a multitude of forms – through theatre, music, art installations and lectures.

  • Tickets and full programme
  • The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra, A Concert for Scotland’s Year of Stories, Festival Marquee, Saturday 24 September, 8pm, tickets £12.00.

– Ends –

Notes for editors

About the SFO

  • The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra is one of Scotland’s foremost traditional music organisations. The Orchestra was formed in 1980, deriving its origins from Fiddlers’ Rallies which were – and are – held throughout the country. After one of these rallies, a group of enthusiasts met to consider the formation of an orchestra which would draw its members from a’ the airts and would form a cohesive, vigorously rehearsed group of musicians.
  • The aim was to have a group of approximately 150 keen and interested musicians who would play together consistently, provide a series of concerts in the main Scottish cities and work together to create the finest possible standard of orchestral fiddle playing without detracting from the strong traditional strains of our music.
  • The inaugural concert of the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra was on 20 March 1980 in the Music Hall, Aberdeen. Since that time the Orchestra has settled into a sequence of six or seven major concerts each year in: The Royal Concert Hall (Glasgow), The Usher Hall (Edinburgh), The Music Hall (Aberdeen), Perth Concert Hall DG-One, (Dumfries) and a major venue South of the Border (e.g. York Barbican; The Sage, Gateshead).
  • A small number of other ‘special’ concerts are also undertaken each year and the Orchestra has also toured to Ireland, Canada, China, Australia, New Zealand, Orkney and Shetland.
  • The members were delighted when, in December 1993, Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, agreed to be the Orchestra’s patron.
  • All of our concerts are given in aid of one or more charities; over the years these charities have benefited by a sum in excess of £1 million.
  • See

About Scotland’s Year of Stories

  • Led by VisitScotland, the Year of Stories 2022 will sustain and build upon the momentum of preceding Themed Years, showcasing a nationwide programme of major events and community celebrations.
  • From icons of literature to local tales, Scotland’s Year of Stories encourages locals and visitors to experience a diversity of voices, take part in events and explore the places, people and cultures connected to all forms of our stories, past and present.
  • Scotland’s Year of Stories will encourage responsible engagement and inclusive participation from the people of Scotland and our visitors.
  • Join the conversation using #YS2022 and #TalesOfScotland.
  • Following an industry consultation, Themed Years will take place every second year to enable more time for planning and collaboration. The next Themed Year will take place in 2024.

For further information and interview requests contact Matthew Shelley on 07786 704299 or Matthew@ScottishFestivalsPR.Org

Wigtown Festival Company Ltd, 11 North Main Street, Wigtown, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland, UK, DG8 9HN © 1999 – 2018. Wigtown Festival Company Ltd is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status. Scottish Charity No. SCO37984