Isla Ratcliff

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About Isla

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Isla Ratcliff is a fiddle player, Scots singer, songwriter and composer, who is passionate about music's positive impact on our wellbeing.

Isla Ratcliff is a Scottish musician who works in numerous musical genres and practices. She is a Scottish traditional fiddle player, Scots singer, songwriter and composer, with a background in classical violin and piano. Her work is underpinned by her passions for music’s positive impact on our wellbeing and for Scottish cultural politics. She is currently studying a Masters degree in Scottish traditional music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, supported by Help Musicians UK. Isla studied with a Suzuki violin teacher in Edinburgh, with a Russian violin teacher in Addis Ababa, at the City of Edinburgh Music School and at Oxford University, where she gained a First Class BA Music degree. She wrote her undergraduate dissertation on the role of music in the Scottish Independence Referendum debate. Highlights of her performance career include performing at Cambridge Folk Festival and Sidmouth FolkWeek with the Fèis Rois Gaelic National Cèilidh Trail 2018, performing at Celtic Connections with the Fèis Rois National Cèilidh Trail 2017, performing at Festival Boult-aux-Bois et Cordes 2019, touring to China with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland in 2015, playing a trad duet with Nicola Benedetti in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall aged 13, and busking from Moscow to Zeebrugge aged 11. Isla writes her own songs, has scored music for two short films and two theatre productions and devised a 30-minute cultural-political musical-theatrical production A Reawakened Monument of Antiquity. Her song ‘Death Row’, inspired by the case of Troy Davis, won the lyrics category of Amnesty International’s Power Of Our Voices protest songwriting competition in 2013. As a community music practitioner, Isla has run songwriting projects for young parents and for people with dementia, delivered workshops about music and mental health for P7 children, taught violin to vulnerable children in Uganda, supported music rehearsals for people with disabilities, been a gig buddy for a person with additional support needs, and researched music interventions in prisons. Isla is a fun and inspiring instrumental teacher with a DipABRSM Teaching Diploma with Distinction.

Performance details
I can perform outdoors
I have my own portable piano/keyboard
I can perform with backing tracks
I can perform while walking around a venue
Folk, Ceillidh, Traditional Scottish folk, Traditional Irish folk, Traditional English folk, Scottish music, Classical, Baroque, Classical crossover, Contemporary classical, Film / TV music, Acoustic, Covers, Pop, Rock, Indie, Russian music, Originals
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See all instruments
Event types:
Concert, Wedding, Wedding proposal, Funeral / Memorial service, Church service, Hotel / Restaurant event, Bar / Club / Venue event, Private event, Corporate event, Charity event, Recording session, Theatre / Show, Cruise, Burns night, Birthday party, Christmas party, New Year's Eve
See all event types
Other skills:
Songwriter, Composer, Lyricist, Arranger, Transcription, Perfect pitch, Fluent sight-reader, Instrumental teaching, Theory teaching, Community music worker, Musicologist
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Song list

A Man's A Man For A That (Robert Burns)
Ae Fond Kiss (Robert Burns)
Billy Taylor (Scottish trad)
The Birks of Invermay (Scottish trad)
The Bonnie Earl O Moray (Scottish trad)
The Bonnie Lass O Fyvie (Scottish trad)
Both Sides The Tweed (Dick Gaughan)
Caller Herrin (Scottish trad)
Freedom Come A Ye (Hamish Henderson)
Heave Ya Ho (Scottish trad)
The Herrin's Heid (Scottish trad)
The Humble Tattie (Ian Middleton)
Jamie Foyers (Ewan McColl)
Kilkelly (Peter Jones)
The Knock Song (Christy Moore)
King of Birds (Karine Polwart)
Mad Tom of Bedlam (Scottish trad)
My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose (Robert Burns)
The Pear Tree (Scottish trad)
Rantin Rovin Robin (Robert Burns)
Red Winged Blackbird (David Francie)
The Rovin Ploughboy (Scottish trad)
The Slave's Lament (Robert Burns)
Smile In Your Sleep (Jim Maclean)
They Sent A Woman (Nancy Nicholson)
A Wee Bird Cam Tae Ma Apron (Scottish trad)
Wild Mountain Thyme (Scottish trad)
Why Should I? (Scottish trad)
Customer questions

What if my timings change after I've booked you?

I always try my best to be as flexible as possible to accommodate your timings. Just let me know if your timings change slightly in the run up to the event and I'll try my best to meet your needs.

Can you provide an iPod/DJ service before and between your sets?


How much time do you need to set up?

I generally only need about 30 minutes to set up, since I am mostly booked to do solo violin or fiddle performances or solo singing with piano accompaniment.

Can I pick the pieces you play from the set list?

Yes, absolutely. Please also let me know if you have any specific requests and I will try my best to learn and perform these.

Do you bring all the equipment you need to perform?

Yes, I bring my own fiddle and my own voice! I can also provide a keyboard if need be.

Can you learn specific pieces before the event?

Yes, absolutely. Please just let me know!

What do your clients love most about your performances?

Clients love my expressive performances, my enthusiasm for my music and the excellent rapport that I establish with an audience. They appreciate my professionalism, my warm personality, my adaptability across genres and the fact that I am quick to learn new material. I have moved listeners to tears on several occasions (for the right reasons!).

Which venues have you performed at in the past?

Festivals: Celtic Connections, Cambridge Folk Festival, Sidmouth FolkWeek Venues: Usher Hall (Edinburgh), Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Perth Concert Hall, The Queen's Hall (Edinburgh), Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Glasgow), Sheldonian Theatre (Oxford), Platform (Glasgow), Beijing Concert Hall, Shanghai Grand Theatre, Tianjin Grand Theatre

Which artists have you been most influenced by?

Karine Polwart, Alasdair Fraser, Shinichi Suzuki, Chilly Gonzales, Pink Floyd, RANT, Blazin Fiddles, Marit Fält & Rona Wilkie, Duncan Chisholm, Fiddler’s Bid, Hamish Napier, Louise Bichan, Rura, King Creosote, Loki, Tom Rosenthal, Johnny Cash

What is the most high profile gig you've performed?

A duet performance with Nicola Benedetti to 2,900 people in Edinburgh's Usher Hall, aged 13.


Note: prices may vary based on travel distance. For an exact quote, click “Check availability”.

Standard Prices
Performance durationPrice
Short performance (up to 15 min)£150
Up to 1 hour£200
Up to 2 hours£250
Up to 3 hours£300
Personalised Music Message
Book me to create a unique music video for you to send to a friend as a gift. This could be a birthday message, first dance song for a wedding anniversary, or just your friend's favourite song to cheer them up.


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10 verified reviews
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From Encore customers:

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Anna H, 3 months ago

Isla was absolutely brilliant. She was able to improvise into the script that the host was working too, to make the evening truly magical for the guests. Her fiddle playing was fabulous and her singing took our breath away. Stunning. Thank you so much Isla you are truly talented.

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Ian R, 1 year ago

Isla is an exceptionally talented young lady. She's simply charming and vivacious. Her enthusiasm is very infectious. It was a delight and an honour to meet her and have her sing and play for our group. I can only strongly recommend her to anyone seeking to make a party that will always be remembered by the guests. Thank you so much, Isla. I hope your dreams come true.

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Winston F, 1 year ago

Excellent in every respect! I would highly recommend Isla. Thank you for putting me in touch with her through Encore, Winston Fraser

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William K, 2 years ago

Really pleased with the job. Responsive from start to finish and performance was top notch. Would recommend.

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Ciaran M, 1 year ago

We approached Isla through a mutual acquaintance to play an hour of ceilidh dancing for our wedding reception. Isla responded quickly and professionally throughout our correspondence, assuring us that she would be able to find other musicians to form a small band for the night. This was great for us to be able to leave this in Isla's hands to organise. Isla provided a suggested set of dances to fill the hour and we were able to add to this also. Isla was joined by two musicians on the night and they formed a wonderful trio! Isla was very clear, patient and helpful in her calling of the ceilidh dances and everyone had a great time! Couldn't have asked for any more!

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Robin M, 1 year ago

All the guests were thrilled by Isla's performance and interaction. Many thanks indeed, it was terrific.

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