A FESTIVAL celebrating the musical legacy of the “Turra Tootler” is taking place this weekend.

Recognised as one of Scotland’s greatest exponents of the tin whistle, workshops, performances and talks are being held in Alex Green’s honour in Aberdeen.

The first festival of its kind to be held in the North East, its focus acknowledges the important place of the tin whistle within Scottish trad music and the dedicated efforts of Green to inspire young players, and bring its uniquely expressive potential as an instrument to the foreground.

Affectionately known as the Turra (Turriff) Tootler, Green was born in Oldmeldrum in the farmlands of Aberdeenshire in 1930 and family lore is that his father, a miller, once picked up a straw stalk in a field, carved some holes in it and produced a tune.

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As Green was growing up, however, there were real tin whistles in the house as his father played whistle, fiddle and saxophone in the local band.

Green later said his first choice of instrument would have been the fiddle but an accident – where he stuck his hand into his father’s mill machinery – robbed him of two fingers. He still learned to read music with his parents’ encouragement – his mother played piano – and in his teens, he began practising the whistle seriously, developing the technique that would see him regarded as a master.

He became well-known for his unmistakable and unique approach to tin whistle playing, developing a self-created tin whistle sound which he aptly named the Spit-Staccato Style.

On leaving school, Green served an apprenticeship as a heavy goods and public service vehicle mechanic, then played in the evening and at weekends with a showband.

Word of his musical prowess spread and after he won the north of Scotland heat of television talent show Opportunity Knocks and appeared on the programme, he began appearing regularly for the BBC, working on both radio and television and became a familiar figure on Grampian and Scottish Television.

When Aberdeen Technical College (now North East Scotland College) announced that it was looking for qualified mechanics to lecture in HGV maintenance, Green applied successfully and began a new career as a white-collar worker while continuing to teach music at workshops in Aberdeenshire.

Following his retirement from Aberdeen College, he continued teaching the whistle, becoming a peripatetic instructor at primary schools. In 2001, he released one of the few recordings dedicated to Scottish whistle playing, Whistle O’er The Lave O’t, on Turriff-based Ross Records.

Green was often accompanied on accordion by his wife, Madeline, as they played around Aberdeenshire and the pair were founder members of the long-running Portknockie Music Night.

This weekend’s Alex Green Tin Whistle Festival continues today and will close in a concert with Irish whistle giants Boys Of The Lough founder Cathal McConnell and Mary Bergin, who was described by the Irish Times as “just about the best tin whistle player this century”. Winner of the prestigious Traditional Musician of the Year in 2000, Bergin was awarded an honorary doctorate by University College, Dublin, for her contribution to the arts in 2022.

Much-loved for his legendary performance skills, McConnell has lived in Scotland for over 40 years, where he continues to sing, play and compose his vast repertoire of tunes and songs collected over a lifetime dedicated to music.