Jennifer Wrigley is highly respected globally not only as a world class fiddler but as an ambassador for traditional Orkney music. She is internationally recognised as one of the leading fiddle players and composers to come out of Scotland in recent years; influencing and inspiring players all around the world.
Her style reflects ages of musicianship that has been passed down aurally from her heroes including players from her Scandinavian influenced homeland of the Orkney Islands.
It is rare to find such an advanced player with the understanding of a true traditional fiddle style who can also teach to the highest technical standard – anyone who wants to improve technique or their general understanding in the fiddle should look no further
Jennifer Wrigley is highly respected globally not only as a world class fiddler but as an ambassador for traditional Orkney music. She is internationally recognised as one of the leading fiddle players and traditional composers to come out of Scotland in recent years; influencing and inspiring players all around the world. Her style reflects ages of musicianship that has been passed down aurally from her heroes in Orkney. She is a previous winner of the BBC Young Tradition Award and Nominee for BBC Alba Instrumentalist of the Year.
Alongside her twin sister Hazel, performing as celebrated duo ‘The Wrigley Sisters’ and with six-piece Scottish folk band ‘Seelyhoo’, she has recorded over a dozen albums, undertaken three world tours, visited forty-seven countries (including fifteen trans-Atlantic trips) and appeared in countless television and radio productions. Together, Jennifer and Hazel have worked with many internationally renowned artists such as Evelyn Glennie, Dougie Maclean, Dick Gaughan, Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham to name a few.
Additionally, Jennifer has worked with 'Live Music Now', a charitable initiative created by Yehudi Menuhin and patronized by Prince Charles, delivering musical programmes to the elderly, young and disadvantaged in a range of health and care settings.
Jennifer has written and arranged over 200 tunes which have been recorded and performed worldwide by artists including Liz Doherty, Alasdair Fraser, BT Ensemble, Trondheim Soloists and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
More recently the sisters set up ‘The Reel’ in the heart of Kirkwall, a teaching and performance venue for Orkney traditional music, enjoyed by thousands of Orkney folk and visitors alike, neatly combining six fully equipped teaching rooms, a licensed café bar, performance and rehearsal spaces and Orkney’s only music shop, serving as a highly popular, central cultural hub for all ages. It was the only music school dedicated to Orkney music and culture. It had a worldwide reputation for excellence. Sadly ‘The Reel’ was forced to permanently close last year due to financial problems in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Following 16 years dedicated to ‘The Reel’ in Orkney, Jennifer has recently relocated to Malvern, Worcestershire to be with her partner, fellow Orcadian Laurence Wilson, a musician and kindred spirit with whom she grew up in Orkney.
It is rare to find such an advanced player with the understanding of a true traditional fiddle style who can also teach to the highest technical standard – anyone who wants to improve their technique or their general understanding of the fiddle should not miss any opportunity to learn with Jennifer
For over three decades this talented twosome have been household names in the global traditional music scene. The unique tuned tones of twin sisters’ Jennifer (fiddle) and Hazel (guitar and piano) is augmented with soft spoken stories and imbued with a see-saw mischievous Scottish dialect. Rooted in the ancient isles of Orkney off the far north of Britain their music has been described as a dancing dialect of “songs without words” and has been wooing and enchanting audiences from Bergen to Brisbane to critical acclaim. The Wrigley Sisters are unquestionably regarded as at the forefront of Orkneys’ incredible yet quietly confident rise to fame The Wrigley Sisters already maintain a well-established and internationally acclaimed reputation and can ably demonstrate an extensive understanding, knowledge and wide experience of local, national and international cultural communities. Indeed they are unquestionably two of a number of high profile cultural and creative arts ‘ambassadors’ to emanate from, or to be associated with, the islands over recent times and are clearly appreciated as such within their home community. They originally started performing together as a formal duo in 1987 and since then have risen in international prominence. During this time they have recorded six acclaimed albums, undertaken three world tours, visited forty seven countries (including sixteen trans-Atlantic trips) and appeared in countless television and radio productions. They have undertaken many musical and education related initiatives and collaborations, several with internationally renowned artists such as Evelyn Glennie. In addition they have also undertaken and delivered extensive teaching and music workshop initiatives throughout the world. Over and above their international teaching demands, they have also tutored extensively at home in Orkney – a commitment and dedication shortly to ‘celebrate’ its 20th year. The sisters were extensively involved in ‘Live Music Now’ – a tutorial initiative who’s patrons are Yehudi Menuhin and Prince Charles. Indeed Prince Charles himself was a member of the audience when the sisters appeared at London’s Barbican Centre in 1997 to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the ‘Live Music Now’ initiative. The initiative is primarily aimed at positively impacting upon the lives of disadvantaged members of communities, including the disabled and the elderly among many others. Their work in this respect also took them to prisons, care homes and many other such establishments.
Until its closure in March 2019 due to Covid 19 Wrigley and the Reel was situated right in the heart of Kirkwall, the capital of Orkney; next door to the historic and iconic St Magnus Cathedral. Established by the internationally acclaimed Orkney fiddle and guitar duo Jennifer and Hazel Wrigley it is predominantly a multi-instrumental school, it also encompassed a café/bar, music shop, concert venue and exhibition space. Since its inception in 2004 The Reel has become a significant community asset as a venue, social space and creative enterprise. It contributed to the artistic, social, cultural, educational and economic well-being of the community. It added to the wider profile of Orkney as a place to visit with its vibrant cosmopolitan community and unique distinctive cultural traditions. The Reel was open 6 days a week all year round (7 days during the summer months) and offered lessons in Fiddle, Violin, Cello, Guitar, Electric Guitar, Double Bass, Electric Bass, Clarinet, Saxophone, Flute, Recorder, Whistle, Classical Voice, Traditional Voice, Percussion, Drums, Trumpet, Classical Piano, Composition, Theory, Accordion, Traditional Piano Accompaniment and more. There were over 600 enrolled students and it is home to more than 20 Self Employed Music Tutors, 20 staff and has over 20 volunteers. The Reel was driven by the passion, creativity and commitment of the Wrigley Sisters who are strived to ensure that the unique and distinctive music traditions of Orkney thrive and connect that to all age groups (including visitors). Generating interest in Orkney culture and heritage whilst supporting generations of artists who are tradition bearers. In the process they built an enterprise that has an impact on the economy, learning opportunities, community well-being and visitor experience for the Orkney Islands.