Karen Steven is an accomplished fiddler and step dancer. Her distinctive rhythmic style of playing is undoubtedly due to her training as a teacher of highland dancing which, in turn, kindled her interest in step dance. Karen is an experienced tutor in both fiddle and step dance, teaching regularly at summer schools and festivals both in Scotland and abroad. Karen is a traditional music tutor at the North Highland College in Scotland.
Karen Steven, Musician/Composer
"In 1986 I toured Cape Breton Island for three weeks with local high school fiddle group The Caithness Junior Fiddlers. This was also my first exposure to and attempt at Cape Breton style step dance. The following summer I began attending the Alasdair Fraser annual fiddle school on Skye and received scholarships in 1988, 1990 and 1994 to attend the Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddle School in California directed by Alasdair Fraser. It was during these courses I became absorbed in the styles of Buddy MacMaster, Mairead Ni Maonaigh and Jerry Holland as well as Alasdair.
My biggest love is the old highland and pipe repertoires and the driving energy in the bowing of the Cape Breton style. From the age of three I began learning highland dancing and this undoubtedly instilled in me a good sense of timing. After undertaking my dancing teachers exam my focus switched to step dancing and in recent years I have been involved in teaching and performing both fiddle and step dance around Scotland, Scandinavia, Ireland, the USA and Canada. 1996 saw the release of ‘Dance on the Fiddle,’ a recording of dance music aimed primarily at step dancers.
The key events I have been fortunate enough to be involved in are The National Fiddle Festival; Edinburgh, Celtic Connections; Glasgow, Northlands Festival; Scotland and Sweden, Feisean; The Highlands and Western Isles, Mid Winter Dance Festival; Norway, New Hampshire Highland Games; USA, Eisteddfodd International Music Festival; Wales, Glasgow Fiddle Workshop.
A scholarship in 1997 from The Cross Trust enabled me to spend a month in Cape Breton researching Cape Breton fiddle music.
More recently my interests have included music composition. In May 2000 I was asked to represent Caithness and was commissioned by the Highland Festival to compose some music to be performed at their millenium concert in Eden Court Theatre, Inverness. In November 2,002 I collaborated again with the musicians who joined me for the commission and we recorded those three sets of tunes. This CD entitled 'Dances in the Wilds' is now available. For more information please visit my site.
My day job continues to involve teaching music at the North Highland College in Alness. We currently have around thirty students on a range of courses focussing primarily on fiddle, pipes and accordion. For more information please go to http://www.nhc-scotland.co.uk "
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