Isla Ratcliff is a Scottish fiddle player, singer and composer from Edinburgh. Her debut album The Castalia features traditional and self-composed tunes inspired by the 4 months that she spent in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in 2019, including a trip to New Brunswick to meet her distant relatives. Described as ‘quite the best debut album that has come this way in a long time’ (The Living Tradition), Isla’s album expresses her love for the tradition, its ethos of community, and the power of music to bring people together. 

Isla was a Semi-Finalist in the BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2022 competition. She has performed at Celtic Connections, Cambridge Folk Festival, Sidmouth FolkWeek, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the BBC Proms. She graduated with an MMus Scottish Music degree from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2020, and with a BA Music degree from Oxford University in 2017. Aged 13, she played a trad duet with Nicola Benedetti in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall. 

The Castalia – Album


The Castalia – Reviews

  • ‘Quite the best debut album that has come this way in a long time. … Isla’s playing here echoes much of past masters like Jerry Holland and Buddy MacMaster.’ – The Living Tradition
  • ‘A fine debut album … showcasing her bright, articulate playing’ – The Scotsman, ****
  • ‘Ms Ratcliff has assembled almost an hour of excellent hard core fiddle music, most of it bearing the energetic stamp of Cape Breton Island. … The crunchy triplets and driven bow of Cape Breton fiddling are to the fore here, but Ratcliff’s skills extend far beyond that. … The Castalia should ensure that Isla Ratcliff is held in equally high regard on this side of the ocean.’ – Folk World
  • ‘A refreshingly lively new take on trad. … This recording is a vigorous new interpretation of the sometimes overly worthy school of (largely) solo fiddle recordings.’ – At The Barrier
  • ‘A beautifully crafted debut’ – Shire Folk


Promo photos here.


Contact Isla here.

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