Siân Phillips is one of Britainís most energetic and hard working traditional fiddle players. She has played professionally for over 30 years, performing across Europe and the Eastern US. At festivals including the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention, North American Folk Alliance, Lorient Inter-Celtique, various Fleadhs, and British folk festivals - Bromyard, Nantwich, Banbury, Pontardawe and Glastonbury - and there are many, many more.
Siânís music spans many genres, she has played professionally or simply for pleasure with jazz musicians, classical ensembles and touring rock groups, but her heart and soul remain rooted deeply in the traditional music of Britain, which she has always loved, and particularly in that of her native Wales.
She was born in Swansea and grew up in the Welsh speaking, tourist seaport of Aberaeron in Ceredigion. She drew her initial fiddle playing from her father and learned formally at school, gaining several prizes at youth Eisteddfodai and with folk dance sides in the Urdd and National Eisteddfodai. Her playing sustained her through school and college, before she turned professional and embarked upon her career as a full time musician and music teacher.
When not playing professionally, Sian teaches students of all ages in Oxfordshire where she now lives. (She's even trained 40 supporting actors on a Bollywood blockbuster, partly shot in Oxford City.)
In addition to helping to run and appearing at various festivals around Britain (she plays key organisational role at Acoustic Festival of Britain), she also organizes two festivals of her own: Bloxham May Festival and, of course The Fiddle Festival of Britain which has a three year history (following its predecessor, the Fiddle Festival of Wales which ran for eight years), with workshops, sessions and concerts providing opportunities for fiddle players to exchange tunes and ideas.
The ongoing success of her recently published Welsh Fiddle Tunes (Schott Music), has led to greater international exposure both for the traditional music of Wales and Siân herself. More recently she has been invited to contribute and is working on a new publication for Oxford University Press.
She is no stranger to the US, and performed in a number of cities on previous visits, including Nashville, New York and Washington DC, but also including smaller venues and workshops in Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Vermont and Maryland.
While she plays a mean five-string electric violin for ceilidhs and barn-dances Siânís first and enduring love is the four-string, regular fiddle handed down from her great-great grandfather over a period of approximately 170 years.
She favours Baroque bows when performing, and recommends them:
"Baroque bows have a different balance and are slightly shorter than Tourte or French bows. They feel 'right' for folk music, light, more guidable and react well to the movement in my wrist.
"They take a little getting used to, maybe 2-3 weeks, but then they become a natural extension of the player, and dance to the tune played.
"I recommend all folk players try one out."
Siân has increased her teaching commitments in recent years, and hopes to offer the breadth of her experience and technique to her young students, providing not only the one-on-one tutorials she has always given, but also a series of Summer Workshops for young string players in and around Oxfordshire who can look forward to a continuation of traditional fiddle playing in generations to come.
Due to the current COVID19 Pandemic, Siân is offering online lessons via ZOOM