String Sisters

Dave Milligan

String Sisters

Featuring six of the world’s top fiddlers and a peerless quartet of piano, guitar, bass and drums, String Sisters blends Nordic and Celtic traditions into a glorious riot of all-encompassing sound. Formed at Celtic Connections in 2001 by Shetland fiddler Catriona Macdonald the group has come back together on many special occasions rewarding audiences each time with a concert to remember.

The band combines the very considerable talents of fiddlers Annbjørg Lien (Norway), Catriona Macdonald (Shetland), Emma Härdelin (Sweden), Liz Carroll (United States), Liz Knowles (United States), Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh (Ireland) plus Tore Bruvoll (Norway) on guitar, Dave Milligan (Scotland) on piano, Conrad Molleson (Scotland) on bass and JamesMackintosh (Scotland) on percussion. String Sisters’s performances and recordings also feature the vocal talents of Emma Härdelin and Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh.

2007 saw them release the sensational Live CD & DVD. It was recorded during a tour of Norway and was received with wide critical acclaim as well as being Grammy long-listed.

A new album, Between Wind And Water, conceived in Shetland in June 2017 and delivered at Castlesound, Edinburgh in the following November, was launched in January 2018 at Celtic Connections, Sage Gateshead and Letterkenny Tradweek.

The band are looking forward to getting together again soon – a UK tour beginning with the Orkney Folk Festival, and stops in Inverness and Edinburgh, will culminate in an appearance at Cecil Sharp House in London in May 2018. In addition, plans are afoot for Scandinavian and North American tours in 2019.

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Annbjørg is one of Norway’s most outstanding fiddlers. She studied Hardanger fiddle with her father in addition to classical violin at Ålesund Music School. She later studied with several fiddlers, including Hauk Buen of Telemark. While her background is in traditional music, Annbjørg is hugely inspired by crossing musical borders. Her collaborations with musicians from all over the globe have made her a key player on the world music stage. Her aim is to bring folk music into new musical landscapes. In September 2017 Annbjørg was awarded the prestigious Anders Jahre Cultural Prize for her outstanding contribution to folk music.

Visit Annbjørg’s website



Catriona started studying fiddle with legendary Shetland fiddler Dr Tom Anderson at the age of 11, and just two years later won the Shetland Young Fiddler of the Year. After four years at the Royal College of Music in London in the early ’90s Catriona moved to the Scottish Borders where she is now based. She is an active teacher: currently a senior lecturer on the BMus Folk Degree at Newcastle University, and tutors regularly at various summer schools. She plays with her own band, Scots super group The Unusual Suspects, and of course String Sisters.



Conrad is a creative artist and musician who works a wide-range of projects including animation, community art and interactive games. A founder member of Shooglenifty with James Mackintosh, he is also known for playing with the legendary Peter StrakerString Sisters and his own musical project Stringjammer.

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Dave is a pianist whose musical imagination flows freely between jazz improvisation and the traditional airs and dance meters of his native Scotland. Many know him from his work in mainstream and contemporary jazz, from leading his own trio to performing with leading figures such as Art Farmer, Larry Carlton,Carol Kidd and Scott Hamilton. Dave’s passion for traditional and folk music has inspired a unique crossover piano style which has featured most prominently in the critically-acclaimed Bachué, with harpist and singer Corrina Hewat; leading 22-piece folk orchestra The Unusual Suspects with Hewat; in the duo with concertina virtuoso Simon Thoumire; as a core member of the Catriona Macdonald Band and, of course, String Sisters.



As the daughter of legendary Swedish fiddler Thore Härdelin, Emma was born into a family of nationally acclaimed musicians and can’t remember a time when she didn’t sing and play. She learned fiddle at her father’s knee and studied Swedish folk singing under Maria Röjås at Malung Folkhögskola. She became lead singer of folk-rock band Garmarna in 1993 and has since added her naturally resonant and hauntingly beautiful voice to the folk band Triakel.

Visit the Triakel website  |  Visit the Garmarna website




Hailing from the Scottish Highlands, James took up the drums at school. Some 30 years later James is widely recognised as one of Scotland’s most innovative drummers. A founder member of Acid Croft pioneers Shooglenifty, he is responsible for the deliriously danceable grooves underpinning the band’s sound. The Shoogle drummer is much in demand elsewhere: most recently appearing with Kaela Rowan BandThe Grit OrchestraJohn McCusker BandTransatlantic Sessions (live and TV),  and, of course, String Sisters. Shooglenifty won Event of the Year at the Scottish Traditional Music Awards in December 2017 for their tribute to their late fiddle player Angus R Grant.

Visit Shooglenifty’s website



Liz Carroll was born in Chicago to Irish parents. She’s a junior and senior All-Ireland Fiddle Champion. Liz has toured as a solo artist, with bands including Greenfields of America, and Trian, and as a duo with Irish guitarist John Doyle. She is a recipient of the National Heritage Fellowship Award, and in 2010 she became the first Irish-American musician nominated for a Grammy. In 2011 she was the first US-born composer honoured with the Cumadóir TG4, Ireland’s most significant traditional music prize.


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Liz Knowles has brought her distinctive sound – the fire and finesse of Irish fiddle music combined with the tonal richness of the classical violin – to concert stages and festivals across the world. Her auspicious beginnings as the fiddler for Riverdance and as soloist on the soundtrack for the film Michael Collins established her as a virtuosic and versatile player. Now a sought-after performer, composer and teacher she produces various music projects with husband Kieran O’Hare and is most often seen touring with her trio Open the Door for Three. In 2017 Liz joined legendary Irish fiddler Martin Hayes‘s eponymous Quartet.

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Mairéad was born and raised in the heartland of the Gaoth Dobhair Gaeltacht in Donegal. She is a native speaker and learnt songs and tunes from her family and neighbours. Her father Francie Ó Maonaigh was one of the foremost fiddle tutors from NW Ireland. Today Mairéad is internationally known as one of the most important players of the unique Donegal style. Her band Altan has brought this music to the world, from New York to Tokyo and back again. Mairéad combines touring and recording with her work on radio and tv at home in Ireland. In February 2017 Mairéad was honoured with the Gradam Ceoil, one of the most prestigious prizes in Irish traditional music.

Visit Mairéad’s website



Tore was educated at Telemark University College (1997–1999), and is best known from the group Hekla Stålstrenga who have released two albums. He has also had great success with two other projects: “Den Store Norske Gitarkvartett” and the duo cooperation Bruvoll/Halvorsen together with the kveder Jon Anders Halvorsen. Bruvoll has collaborated with many other artists in traditional folk like Annbjørg Lien and, of course, String Sisters. Tore has since the late 90s worked closely with Ragnhild Furebotten, which has resulted in the founding of the band Hekla Stålstrenga. The band has received two nominations for the Spellemannprisen and tours extensively in Norway as well as internationally.

Visit Hekla Stålstrenga’s website