Isla Ratcliff

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About Isla

Isla Ratcliff is a Scottish fiddle player, singer and composer, with a background in classical violin and piano.
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Isla Ratcliff is a Scottish fiddle player, singer and composer, with a background in classical violin and piano. Her work is underpinned by her interests in cultural politics, the environment, spoken word, theatre, and music’s positive impact on our wellbeing. Isla is a passionate, inventive, thoughtful and open-minded musician. Her fiddle playing is expressive and dynamic, incorporating both excitement and subtlety. Her rich singing voice is deeply moving. She has a deep interest in tradition, particularly of Scotland and Cape Breton, having grown up in Edinburgh with Scottish fiddle music and having studied on international exchange in Cape Breton at the end of 2019. Her work is consistently influenced by her interest in academic research. Isla has performed at Celtic Connections, Cambridge Folk Festival, Sidmouth Folk Week, and at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019 in Ondervinden’s production Tess. Aged 13, she played a trad duet with Nicola Benedetti in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall. She performed with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland at the 20th Anniversary of the Scottish Parliament. She is an alumna of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. Isla plays with Stramash Cèilidh Band. Isla is a versatile composer and arranger. Her work includes fiddle tunes, ensemble arrangements, theatre scores, short film scores and political songs. She enjoys collaborating with artists from other disciplines. Aged 16, she won the lyrics category of Amnesty International’s Power Of Our Voices protest songwriting competition with her song 'Death Row'. She devised a musical theatrical production A Reawakened Monument of Antiquity, inspired by the music and cultural political context of A Collection of Highland Vocal Airs (1784). Isla holds a MMus Scottish Music degree from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and a BA Music (First Class) degree from Oxford University, for which she wrote her dissertation on the role of music in the Scottish Independence Referendum debate. Prior to this, she studied through the Suzuki method and at the City of Edinburgh Music School. Isla’s teachers have included Marie Fielding (fiddle), Alistair McCulloch (fiddle), Fiona Hunter (Scots song), Gill Bowman (Scots song), Ishabel T. MacDonald (Gaelic song), Mysie Ferguson (violin), Peter Markham (violin), Sophie Langdon (violin), Tamara Salomasova (violin), Gillian Gray (piano) and Maria Prew (piano). Isla is a fun and inspiring instrumental teacher with a DipABRSM Teaching Diploma with Distinction. As a community music practitioner, she has worked with early years, primary school children, young parents, and people with disabilities, delivering songwriting workshops, teaching violin and supporting music rehearsals. Isla enjoys hillwalking, cycling, cross-country skiing and reading.

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5 out of 5
14 verified reviews
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Isla's Reviews

From Encore customers:

Sacha Z
2 months ago
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5 out of 5

Isla was fantastic. We hired her to play on our wedding day, and she and Marianna on the keyboard really helped to make our day special. As well as her wonderful folk music she was very accommodating in playing a few songs from Lord of The rings as well as some amazing pop covers. Our guests loved the music, and that as well as the painless booking and planning, and the early set up made the day very stress free! Thank you again Isla for making our day so special!

Reply from Isla
2 months ago

Thank you for such a lovely review, Sacha. It was a pleasure to play for you and Beth! All the best, Isla & Marianna

Jack H
7 months ago
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5 out of 5

Isla was absolutely brilliant, and I have had so many people ask me where I found her! Would very much highly recommend

Reply from Isla
7 months ago

Thank you very much, Jack. It was a pleasure to play for you and Vita.

2 years ago
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5 out of 5

We just wanted to say an absolutely enormous THANK YOU for your beautiful music at our wedding. We knew it would be lovely, but it really was even more perfect than we could have imagined. The moment of the ceremony beginning in particular is a moment we will remember forever, and we cannot thank you enough for providing such a perfect soundtrack to that. Our guests also loved having you play the reception, which added such a warm and happy tone to the whole thing. You were also a joy to work with in the lead-up too, helping with suggestions for songs for different points in the day and making the whole process just that much easier. Really, we cannot thank you enough for being so approachable and supportive and such a model professional all at once. You really did help to make the day, especially those moments in the ceremony, utterly, utterly perfect.

Rob M
2 years ago
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5 out of 5

Isla was fantastic. She created the perfect atmosphere for our wedding and we were delighted with her music and how she took our suggestions and her own, to creat ther perfect music. Thank you.

Read all 9 reviews

From other customers:

Ciaran M
5 years ago, for a Wedding in Balfron Rd
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5 out of 5

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!

Robin M
5 years ago, for a Private event in Edinburgh
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5 out of 5

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

Read all 10 reviews
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Experienced: 10 bookings through Encore
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This act has been working with Encore for over 8 years

Isla's Song list

I have a substantial repertoire of folk songs, including:
- 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)
I have a large repertoire of fiddle tunes, including:
- Killicrankie (Scottish trad)
- The Battle of the Somme (William Lawrie)
- Calum’s Road (Donald Shaw)
- Jeremy and Regina’s
- Cali’s Wedding March (Hanneke Cassel)
- The Cameron Highlander (Scott Skinner)
- Carnival (Gideon Stove)
- Flett from Flotta (PM Donald MacLeod)
- George McHardy’s (Angus Lawrie)
- The Last March (John Morris Rankin)
- Mairi’s Wedding (John Bannerman)
- The Battle of Waterloo (Scottish trad)
- The March of the Meenatotteen Bull (Irish trad)
- The Bacon Allocation (Anna Massie)
- The Burning of the Piper’s Hut (A. Mackellar)
- Dark Lowers The Night (John MacKay)
- Dusky Meadow (Donald MacLellan)
- Captain Campbell (Scottish trad)
- Munlochy Bridge (Scottish trad)
- Maggie Cameron (Scottish trad)
- Athole Brose (Abraham MacIntosh)
- Cameron Chisholm's Strathspey (Maybelle Chisholm)
- Cropie’s Strathspey (Peter Milne)
- Seaforth’s Compliments (Scottish trad)
- Mammy’s Plaidie (Donegal trad)
- Port a’ Bhodaich (Scottish trad)
- The Queen of May (Donegal trad)
- Stumpie (Scottish trad)
- You Can’t Play A House (Mairearadh Green)
- Aird Ranters (Fred Morrison)
- Calum Breugach (Scottish trad)
- The Man From Skye (PM Donald MacLeod)
- Miss Drummond of Perth (Niel Gow)
- The Smith’s A Gallant Fireman (J. S. Skinner)
- Bauchan
- Langavat (James Duncan MacKenzie)
- Garry Porch of Avernish (Adam Sutherland)
- Niel Gow’s Style (Simon Fraser Collection)
- The Auld Brig O Don (John Turnbull)
- Pamela Rose Grant (Alasdair Fraser)
- Julia Delaney (Irish trad)
- Lively Steps (Jerry Holland)
- Carnie's Canter (J.S. Skinner)
- West Mabou Reel (Irish trad)
- Wissahickon Drive (Liz Carroll)
- The Black Pig (Jerry Holland)
- Arthur's Seat (J.S. Skinner)
- Cairngorm Brooch (Scottish trad)
- The Banshee (James McMahon)
- Far Frae Hame (Shetland trad)
- The Flowers of Edinburgh (Scottish trad)
- Da Foula Reel (Shetland trad)
- The Glory Reel (Irish trad)
- Da Haa (Tom Anderson)
- Oliver Jack (Shetland trad)

- Peter Street (English trad)
- The Referendum (Alasdair Fraser)
- The Sally Gardens (Irish trad)
- Spootiskerry (Ian Burns)
- Catharsis (Amy Cann)
- The Battered Hake (Colin Cotter)
- The Cèilidh Band Reel
- Ciaran Tourish (Jerry Holland and Dougie MacDonald)

- The Dashing White Sergeant (Scottish trad)
- Donald Blue (Shetland trad)
- Da Eye Wifey (Iain MacLeod)
- The Fairy Dance (Nathaniel Gow)
- Farewell to Connaught (Irish trad)
- The Forth Bridge Reel (Williamson Blyth)
- The High Drive (Gordon Duncan)
- Jenny’s Wedding (Irish trad)
- Laura’s (Mairearadh Green)
- Love At The Endings (Ed Reavy)
- Da Merry Boys O Greenland (Shetland trad)
- Petronella (Scottish trad)
- Salamanca (Irish trad)
- The Silver Spear (Irish trad)
- Staten Island (Scottish trad)
- Toss The Feathers (Irish trad)
- The Trip To The Market (Adam Sutherland)
- Willafjord (Shetland trad)
- Fiddle (Debbie Scott)
- Innes Campbell (Duncan Chisholm)
- Lost in the Loop (Liz Carroll)
- Tony Bliar’s Reel (Adam Sutherland)
- Angus MacKenzie’s Reel (Fraser Shaw)
- The Arran Cèilidh (Ross Kennedy)
- The Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Welcome To Shetland (Willie Hunter) 

- Frank’s Reel (John McCusker)
- The Glasgow Reel (Davey Arthur)
- The High Road To Linton (Scottish trad)
- Jock Broon’s 70th (Gordon Duncan)
- Lasses Pisses Brandy (Northumberland trad)
- The Mason’s Apron (Scottish trad)
- The Mill House (John Martin)
- Peter Man (English trad)
- The Reconciliation (Irish trad)
- The Reel O Stumpie (Scottish trad)
- Tatties and Heron (Scottish trad)
- Trip To Windsor (Dan R. MacDonald)
- The Road To Errogie (Adam Sutherland)
- The Shetland Molecule
- Tree Gap (John Redmond and Grainne Murphy)
- Wes and Maggie’s Cèilidh Croft (Leo McCann)
- Wha’ll Dance wi Wattie (Shetland trad)
- Wing Commander Donald MacKenzie (Phil Cunningham)
- ‘And Sheep Will Eat Men’ (Lauren MacColl)
- The Birds’ Nest (Scottish trad)
- The Congress Reel (Joe Mills)
- Dolina MacKay
- Gravel Walks (Scottish/Irish trad)
- The High Reel (Scottish trad)
- Islay Ranters (Charlie MacKerron)
- Lady Erskine’s Reel (Scottish trad)
- Lady Isabella (Lauren MacColl)
- The Maids of Mount Kisco (James Morrison)
- The Old Bush (Irish trad) 
The Old Copperplate (Irish trad)
- Pinnacle Ridge (Roger Peppe)
- Pressed for Time (Gordon Duncan)
- The Red Haired Boy (Irish trad)
- The Sligo Maid (Irish trad)
- Tongadale Reel (Farquhar MacDonald)
- Willie be Waast da Loch (Gideon Stove)
- Zorro da Crow (Debbie Scott)

- The Calgary Fiddlers’ Welcome To Shetland (Andrew Gifford)
- McArthur’s Road (Dave Richardson)
- Am Monadh Ruadh
- The Black Pig (Jerry Holland)
- Clueless (Gordon Duncan)
- The Dog and the Rabbit (Kris Drever)
- The Dunmore Lassies (Irish trad)
- The Fermoy Lassies (Irish trad)
- The Golden Keyboard (Marin Mulhaire)
- Hull’s Reel (John Morris Rankin)
- The Killarney Boys of Pleasure (Irish trad)
- The Lochaber Badger (Fred Morrison)
- The Maple Leaf (Darach de Brún)
- Minnie’s Coo (Shetland trad)
- The Morning Dew (Irish trad)
- The Ships Are Sailing (Irish trad)
- Sweerie Geng (Debbie Scott)
- The Tarbolton Reel (Scottish trad)
- The Ale Is Dear (Scottish trad)
- An Da-Shealladh (Second Sight) (Lauren MacColl)
- The Earl’s Chair (Patrick Moloney)
- The Flooded River (Duncan Chisholm)
- Maggie’s Pancakes (Stuart Morrison)
- Man of Aran (Darach de Brún)
- The Minican (Simon Fraser)
- The Otter’s Holt (Martin Crehan)
- Auchendoun Castle (Scottish trad)
- Sputnik in Glen Shiel (Martyn Bennett)
- Superfly (Kevin O’Neill)
- Harris Dance (Scottish trad)
- The Three Mile Bridge (Irish trad)
- The Chorus (Scottish/Irish trad)
- The Scotch Style (Andy Dejarlis)
- Kilmartin Glen Campsite (Rona Wilkie)
- The Blackthorn Stick (Irish trad)
- The Cat That Ate The Candle (Irish trad)
- The Cook in the Kitchen (Irish trad)
- The Kesh (Irish trad)
- The Legacy (Irish trad)
- Mattie and Karine’s Wedding Jig (Aidan O’Rourke)
- Out On The Ocean (Irish trad)
- The Roaring Barmaids
- The Spirit of the Dance (English trad)
- The Wedding Jig (Donegal trad)
- The Welcome Return (Irish trad)
- You Can Call Me Big Al (Ian Stephenson)
- Banish Misfortune (Irish trad)
- The Blarney Pilgrim (Irish trad)
- Braehead Cottage (Kristan Harvey)
- The Cat’s Meow (Joannie Madden)
- The Connaughtman’s Rambles (Irish trad)
- My Darling Asleep (Irish trad)
- Elizabeth’s Plymsoles (Mike Vass)
- The Girl of the Big House (Irish trad)
- Hughie Trevor’s
- The Humours of Glendart (Irish trad)
- I Buried My Wife and Danced on her Grave (Irish trad)
- Jig of Slurs (George S. McLennan)
- Rod MacKenzie of Assynt (Duncan Chisholm)
- The Seven Stars (English trad)
- Troy’s Wedding (Colin Magee)
- The Yellow Wattle (Irish trad)
- Blackberry Festival Footrace (David Fisher)
- The Minor Rigged Ship (John Spiers)
- The Atholl Highlanders (Scottish trad)
- Glasgow City Police Pipers (PM Donald MacLeod)
- Happy Day in June (Lauren MacColl)
- Langstrom’s Pony (Irish/Scottish trad)
- The Mouse in the Kitchen (Colin Farrell)
- Rory Gallagher’s (Gordon Duncan)
- Rory MacLeod’s (PM Donald MacLeod)
- The Skylark’s Ascension (Archibald Lindsay)
- Camus Eidhinn
- The Cliffs of Moher (Irish trad)
- The Coleraine (Irish trad)
- Drummond Castle (Scottish trad)
- The Dusty Windowsills (Johnny Harling)
- The Gallowglass (Nathanial Gow)
- Horizonto (Paul James)
- Kilbrandon Jig (Donald Shaw)
- The Mug of Brown Ale (Irish trad)
- The Pipe on the Hob (Irish trad)
- The Rakes of Kildare (Irish trad)
- Roca House (Louise BIchan)
- Seanamhac Tubestation (John Carty)
- Slieve Russell (Irish trad)
- The Stool of Repentance (Scottish trad)
- The Tenpenny Bit (Irish trad)
- Zycanthos (Roger Wilson)
- Calliope House (Dave Richardson)
- Nikki’s Leap (Ian Carr)
- Gallagher’s Frolics (Irish trad)
- Da Greenland Man’s Tune (Shetland trad)
- The Hatchlings (Liz Carroll)
- Herbert the Sherbert (Martin Ellison and Clive Williams)
- Jump At The Sun (John Kirkpatrick)
- The Monaghan Jig (Scottish/Irish trad)
- Morrison’s Jig (Irish trad)
- Volcanic Jig (Natalie MacMaster)
- 25! (Lauren MacColl)
- Mr David Duncan’s Reel (Scottish trad)
- Paddy’s Leather Breeches (Scottish trad)
- Pull The Knife Out And Stick It In Again (Irish trad)
- The Shores of Lough Gowna (Irish trad)
- The Soup Dragon (Gordon Duncan)
- Thunderhead Jig (Grey Larsen)
- Nina’s (Niall Vallely)
- Cavers of Kirkcudbright (Mike Vass)
- Freya’s Fancy (Bruce MacGregor)
- An Phis Fhliuch (Irish trad)
- We’re A Case (The Bunch of Us) (Duncan Chisholm)
- The Butterfly (Irish trad)
- Dever The Dancer (Irish trad)
- A Fig For A Kiss (Irish trad)
- The Humours of Whiskey (Irish trad)
- The Kid on the Mountain (Irish trad)
- Farewell To Whalley Range (Michael McGoldrick)
- Inisheer (Thomas Walsh)
- Maggie West’s Waltz (Mairearadh Green)
- My Cape Breton Home (Jerry Holland)
- Rory’s Dinosaur Jumper (Rona Wilkie)
- The Powell Girls (Neil Sutcliffe)
- Miss Rowan Davies (Phil Cunningham)
- Bert MacKenzie’s (Louise MacKenzie)
- David’s Waltz (Shetland trad)
- Eddie O’Gara’s (Irish trad)
- Midnight on the Water (Luke Thomasson)
- Si Bheag Si Mhor (Turlough Carolan)
- Hector the Hero (J.S. Skinner)
- Margaret’s Waltz (Pat Shaw)
- Göstas Vals (Swedish trad)
- Flat World (Andy Cutting)

Isla's Prices

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)£225
Up to 1 hour£275
Up to 2 hours£325
Up to 3 hours£375


Tune composition
Customer questions

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.

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.

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

Yes. Please let me know well in advance if there are any specific tunes or songs that you would like me to perform. 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 (although this will cost extra).

Can you learn specific pieces before the event?

Yes. Please let me know well in advance. This incurs an extra fee.
Folk, Ceillidh, Traditional Scottish folk, Traditional Irish folk, Traditional English folk, Scottish music, Classical, Baroque, Classical crossover, Contemporary classical
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Event types:
Private event, Concert, Wedding, Wedding proposal, Funeral / Memorial service, Church service, Hotel / Restaurant event, Bar / Club / Venue event, Corporate event, Charity event, Recording session, Theatre / Show, Cruise, Burns night, Birthday party, Christmas party, New Year's Eve
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Other skills:
Songwriter, Composer, Lyricist, Arranger, Transcription, Fluent sight-reader, Instrumental teaching, Theory teaching, Community music worker, Musicologist
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