Jed, OFG’s founder, says:
‘I first got the idea of starting a fiddle group after I went to fiddle workshops in Shetland and Isle of Skye. I loved the sound a group of fiddles make when playing together. It’s a sound which is quite different to the sound of a solo fiddle. Shetland fiddler and composer Dr Tom Anderson once described this sound as ‘ringing strings’, and I think this is a good description. So in the summer of 1998 I went about setting up a fiddle group. I thought that ideally the venue would need to be in or near Oxford city centre. It needed to be on a good bus route and with easy parking. I eventually booked the hall behind The Mason’s Arms in Headington Quarry. The hall was a bit too big for us, but it had a good acoustics. Also, Headington Quarry had strong links with Morris dance music and Cecil Sharpe (a folk music collector). Once I had the venue, I placed adverts in the local press and I printed flyers.
So on Tuesday 8 September 1998, OFG met for the first time. Only 6 or 7 people turned up on that first night, but numbers grew slowly over the years. I initially led the group and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge, but when we moved to Quarry Village Hall, Tom offered to take over the leadership role. Our group repertoire and playing have continued to go from strength to strength; now, over twenty years later, we have produced three CDs, played countless concerts, performed in several countries around Europe and raised thousands of pounds for charities. All this because we are just doing what we love to do – playing our fiddles!’
Tom, our leader and musical director, has been involved from the early days in organising practice and suggesting repertoire. While the line-up of players has expanded to our current performing “big band”, the weekly practice session remains core – a collaborative but organised mix of learning new tunes and rehearsing material to performance standard while having fun.