BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award 2015 – The finalists

young trad celticIn the run up to the February 1st 2015 finals at Celtic Connections we have asked our finalists the some questions about their musical careers so far and their thoughts behind entering the Young Trad Award. It’s very interesting! Read their thoughts by clicking on the links below.

Ryan Young – fiddle (Cardross)
Claire Hastings – Scots song (Dumfries)
Heather Downie – clarsach (Dunblane)
Ainsley Hamill – Gaelic song (Cardross)
Gemma Donald – fiddle (Shetland)
Séamus Ó Baoighilll – fiddle (Skye)

If you would to come and hear the finals live on the 1st February, City Halls, Glasgow it starts at 5pm. You can buy a ticket from Celtic Connections. If you can’t make it along the event will be broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland between 5 & 8pm and on the iPlayer afterwards.

Séamus Ó Baoighill: Finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2015

Photo 21-11-2014 08 31 01Séamus Ó Baoighill from Isle of Skye is a finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2015. We asked Séamus the following questions:

How did you get involved in Scottish music?
Fiddle, pipes and whistle are all just part of the daily culture on the Isle of Skye where I’ve grown up. It is a tradition that affects a lot of people’s lives whether playing, dancing or just simply enjoy listening. Society is very inclusive and welcoming. Instruments are taught at primary school and there are traditional music sessions in the local bars – it was at such a session where I was first introduced to the idea of actually playing the music – I was 8 years old.
One of the older fiddlers had been watching me … watching him. He told my father “the boy can have a few tunes with him if he wants ?”… and that’s how I got involved !
Most Wednesday and Thursday nights I would race home from primary school to be in bed for 4 o’clock, so that I would be up and ready for the music session at 9.30pm.

Why did you enter BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award?
I am still at school and have so much to learn about the world and Scottish traditional music. I look to this award as a route to develop my experience and maturity in my playing. I feel the structure of the award process will teach me valuable skills and the exposure would help my progression as I work towards a career as a professional musician.

What do you hope to gain from the experience?
I enjoyed my time with Mike and Mairi as they helped improve my arrangement skills.

Developing my stage craft and improving the rapport with my audience – creating a relaxed atmosphere we can both enjoy.

Exposure to a wider audience, with the experience of playing in a prestigious event.

I really enjoyed the semi-final weekend, meeting and learning from the other musicians and hearing each of their style’s.

The opportunity to play in a well respected band.

Do you have any particular musical highlights?
– Youngest member to have entered Sgoil Chiùil na Gàidhealtachd (National Centre of
– Excellence in traditional music) at 11 years of age
– Supporting Anne Lorne Gilles at Sabhal Mor Ostaig
– Playing fiddle and pipes at the William Kennedy Festival, Armagh, Northern Ireland
– 2014 Summer tour of the Highlands with Feis an Earraich
– Performing at the University of Limerick, Irish World Academy of Music
– Selected for the senior National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland (NYPBOS) at age 12
– Performing at Celtic Connections with the NYPBOS
– Arranging and performing with my former trio at Perth Concert Hall
– Winning the Northern Meeting (under 15’s) at 11 years of age
– 2014 National Piping Centre Junior Champion
– 2013 Winning the Cowal Highland Gathering Piobaireach
– Recital of ‘Piobaireach’ at Piping Live, (Young Stars)
– Playing in Hong Kong at the Rugby Sevens Tournament

What are your plans for the future?
To combine my interests in history and music to explore the origin and close relationship between the West Coast Scottish and Irish languages, cultures and traditions.

I would like to be good enough one day to win an MG Alba Scots Trad Music Award and the Glenfiddich championships on both pipes and fiddle.

Why not buy a ticket to hear Séamus Ó Baoighill or any other of the finalists at the Grand Finals on Sunday February 1st at 5pm. The finals are part of Celtic Connections festival. If you can’t make it along the event will be broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland between 5 & 8pm and on the iPlayer afterwards.

Heather Downie: Finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2015

IMG_0054.JPGHeather Downie from Dunblane is a finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2015. We asked Heather the following questions:

How did you get involved in Scottish music?
When I was in Primary School the late Martyn Bennet came and worked with us in a project writing music for the anniversary of the battle of Stirling bridge. I remember feeling so inspired by his approach to music. It was a fantastic experience and I was hooked on Scottish music ever since! I feel so proud to be in a country with such a rich musical tradition, I feel like each new piece I tackle on the harp I learn more about it!

Why did you enter BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award?
I believe competition pushes you to become a better player, improving in all areas, technique, arrangement, composition and performance. I am a better musician as a result of the semi-finals, and still improving as I prepare for the finals. I also think the Young Trad competition itself profiles and highlights what is best in Scottish traditional music and brings it to a wider audience, engaging and inspiring others.

What do you hope to gain from the experience?
Firstly I have already met and played with amazing musicians through the competition, and I am looking forward to working with them for the final and of course with the other finalists on the tour. Performing with these other musicians is a real honour, and watching them in the final! I felt so inspired by ther performances in the semi-finals! Being exposed to different styles and approaches has been very exciting. Learning through working with other musicians is a fantastic experience. Also, the advice and guidance already given through the competition has been amazing, I feel this and the future support with be invaluable.

Do you have any particular musical highlights?
Playing in the Carnegie Hall was provably one of my most memorable musical highlights. It was such a fantastic sound, like no other venue. I would love to go back. As far as meeting musical heroes goes, I think meeting and performing, as well as recording with Margaret Bennett. Having been introduced to Scottish music by her son it was such an honour to the perform with her, she is so knowledgable and has a connection on a different level to traditional music, she is an amazing woman.

What are your plans for the future?
I am currently settling up a business with fellow harder Pippa Reid-Foster called Harp Bazaar, everything harp related! I am so excited about our future projects together! Also recording a solo album soon, fingers crossed! And performing with the new band Top Floor Taivers! So lots in the pipeline.

Why not buy a ticket to hear Heather Downie or any other of the finalists at the Grand Finals on Sunday February 1st at 5pm. The finals are part of Celtic Connections festival. If you can’t make it along the event will be broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland between 5 & 8pm and on the iPlayer afterwards.

Ainsley Hamill: Finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2015

IMG_0056.JPGAinsley Hamill from Cardross is a finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2015. We asked Ainsley the following questions:

How did you get involved in Scottish music?
I was first introduced to Scottish music at primary school due to the annual Scots song competitions. However, I took an interest in Gaelic song when I joined the Gaelic choir in secondary school.

I really started to get involved in Scottish Music when I began studying at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on the BA Scottish Music course.
Here I met my band mates, and Barluath was formed.

Why did you enter BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award?
I entered the competition as I believe it is a great platform for becoming known, and for young musicians to play the music they love to a captive audience.

I also entered as it will be a fun and invaluable experience. This is a great opportunity to learn and meet new people.

What do you hope to gain from the experience?
I hope to come out of the competition as a better performer, by putting the judges constructive criticism in to practice, and by gaining experience through working with the scenes most talented performers.

Do you have any particular musical highlights?
A musical highlight for me was performing at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall as a special guest with Phil Cunningham, Ally Bain, and The Royal Scottish National Orchestra in 2011. The event was a Saint Andrews Day celebration, and to celebrate Phil and Ally playing together for 25 years.

I’m also part of a group called Atlantic Seaway, which has allowed me to travel extensively, mostly to the United States since 2009. Playing mostly venues in Boston, New York and Florida.

I’m also very fortunate to be part of Barluath, who I have performed, toured and recorded with since 2009.

What are your plans for the future?
In the future I hope to still be performing and recording with Barluath and Atlantic Seaway.

I would also like to record a solo album at some point.

Why not buy a ticket to hear Ainsley Hamill or any other of the finalists at the Grand Finals on Sunday February 1st at 5pm. The finals are part of Celtic Connections festival. If you can’t make it along the event will be broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland between 5 & 8pm and on the iPlayer afterwards.

Gemma Donald: Finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2015

IMG_0057.JPGGemma Donald from Shetland is a finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2015. We asked Gemma the following questions:

How did you get involved in Scottish music?
I was lucky enough to be surrounded by scottish music from a very young age. My dad played the accordion and my mam plays the piano so I always wanted to play along with them in the house. Listening to my dad playing with ‘Da Fustra’ scottish dance band (which he led for 20 years), and sitting listening to Willie Hunter playing at the Shetland accordion and fiddle festival or Bryan Gear playing at the local accordion and fiddle club was so captivating and inspiring for me. When it came up that I could get lessons at the school I chose the fiddle. I had been getting piano lessons for two years and already had an understanding of how to read music so it made translating it to the fiddle that bit easier. I was taught by Trevor Hunter for 4 years at primary school then I went to my auntie, Judi Nicolson, for 4 years once I got to high school. That’s where I learnt the North Eastern style of scottish music and got into the scottish competition circuit. For as long as I can remember I always wanted to play for a living, but it’s not really possible to survive off playing music as a profession in shetland so I took to the mainland in 2008 and have never looked back since.

Why did you enter BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award?
I had previously made it to the semi finals stage of the competition and it was a great learning experience for me. It gave me inspiration to fall in love with the fiddle again and to look at the music I play and why I play it in much more depth. So this time round I felt I was ready to come back and try again. I learnt so much from the whole experience the last time and the feedback I received gave me inspiration as to what I had to work towards and improve on. There are so many fantastic musicians that have come through the competition and have gone on to have very successful careers, so I entered with the hopes of following in their footsteps.

What do you hope to gain from the experience?
I hope to use the experience I gain from the competition as a platform from which I can lauch my career further. It is a fantastic opportunity to reach a wider audience and break into a new market. I have already made so many new friends through the competition and it is so exciting to be part of it all!

Do you have any particular musical highlights?
One of the highlights in my career was when I won the Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship in 2006, it was my first time in the competition and had been a lifelong goal to work towards from when I started lessons with Auntie Judi.
Another particular favourite of mine was adjudicating along side Aly Bain and Bryan Gear (two of my musical heroes) at the Shetland Young Fiddler of the Year competition for 3 years running, just 8 years after winning it at the age of 13.

What are your plans for the future?
After the success of my debut album ‘The Love o’ Da Isles’ I hope to make a new CD within the next few years. Looking to the future, I hope to reach new heights with my solo career and perform to wider audiences around the world. I also hope to inspire the new generation of musicians the way my peers have inspired me.

Why not buy a ticket to hear Gemma Donald or any other of the finalists at the Grand Finals on Sunday February 1st at 5pm. The finals are part of Celtic Connections festival. If you can’t make it along the event will be broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland between 5 & 8pm and on the iPlayer afterwards.

Ryan Young: Finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2015

IMG_0055.JPGRyan Young from Cardross is a finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2015. We asked Ryan the following questions:

How did you get involved in Scottish music?
I first started the fiddle at school. I was inspired to learn traditional music after seeing Aly Bain perform on the BBC Hogmanay show and by the playing of Eilidh Steel from Helensburgh, who taught me as part of the Helensburgh and Lomond Junior Fiddlers. I then attended the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formerly RSAMD) Junior Academy, where I was taught by Sarah-Jane Summers and Kirsty Cotter, before completing a BA Honours (Scottish Music) at the senior school, studying with Alistair McCulloch, Pete Clark and Marie Fielding.

Why did you enter BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award?
The Award is an amazing opportunity for young musicians and is a fantastic learning opportunity. I have some friends who have been involved in the Award and it has been very successful in helping to launch their careers. I would love a career as a performer. It would be great to play for people who might not ordinarily want to listen to you to see what they think about what your doing; playing in such a daunting environment will also highlight to me the areas I need to improve and, of course, I think I would learn an awful lot from being around the other competitors. I have also heard that the Young Trad Tour is the ‘best craic!’ and I would really love to take part if I got through to the finals.

What do you hope to gain from the experience?
I am constantly looking to improve. Every time I play I want to do better. I think an experience like this is a fantastic learning curve. It’s fine practicing in the safety of your room but when your on a platform like this, where you really hope to play well, I think it really highlights what stage your at in your development. I imagine the other competitors have the same anxieties I do and it would be great to see how they cope with them so I can learn from what they do.

Do you have any particular musical highlights?
A few years ago I took part in a collaboration project, The Atlantic Seaway, between the RCS, University Of Strathclyde and Berklee College of Music. We played at a series of concerts in France as part of the Lorient Celtic Festival. We had rehearsals every day and then played at a concert most nights, although still found ourselves in the pub every night playing tunes together until we had to stop. It was amazing getting to play with so many great musicians! I often get nervous when I play but everyone was so friendly and played for fun because they love the music. I think this was the first time I ever felt truly relaxed playing.

What are your plans for the future?
I don’t have any immediate plans other than to practice lots and play as much as I can. I would love a career as a solo performer and have dreamt of recording an album since I was wee. I love learning new tunes, particularly very old West Highland ones. I spend a lot of time looking for obscure tunes that nobody knows. The great thing about these tunes is that lots of them have never been recorded which means when I try to interpret them in my own way I don’t feel as guilty about whether I’m playing them ‘correct’ or not.

Why not buy a ticket to hear Ryan Young or any other of the finalists at the Grand Finals on Sunday February 1st at 5pm. The finals are part of Celtic Connections festival. If you can’t make it along the event will be broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland between 5 & 8pm and on the iPlayer afterwards.

Claire Hastings: Finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2015

IMG_0053.JPGClaire Hastings from Dumfries is a finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2015. We asked Claire the following questions:

How did you get involved in Scottish music?
I was lucky to have very encouraging teachers in both primary and secondary school. In primary school I was encouraged to enter the local competitions for Scots song and poetry, and being from Dumfries there was also a focus on Robert Burns, whom I took an interest in. My secondary school was fortunate enough to host the students from the BA Scottish Music course at the RSAMD as part of their second year tour. I was so inspired that I ended up doing the very same course!

Why did you enter BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award?
When I was still in school I went to see the final of the Young Traditional Musician of the Year. I was so impressed by the musicians and performances, and I thought it looked like a great thing to be a part of. I didn’t know much about Scottish Music at the time, and didn’t know that that was the career path I would choose. However, since then I have completed a degree in Scottish Music and have heard from several friends how great the competition is, and how it can be a terrific platform to promote yourself and make new contacts.

What do you hope to gain from the experience?
I hope to gain more of an insight into the industry, and to learn how best I can sustain a career in Scottish Music. I know I will have an enjoyable experience over the course of the competition, and I look forward to the tour!

Do you have any particular musical highlights?
A recent performance at the Traditional Music Hall of Fame dinner has been one of my musical highlights so far. It was a privilege to sing in front of so many folk music greats! Another recent highlight has been travelling to Mull every few weeks to perform for a community group called ‘Mull Musical Minds’ alongside Robyn Stapleton. It was organised through Live Music Now Scotland, and it was wonderful getting to know the group and seeing how much singing can make a difference. When I was at university I was lucky enough to travel with several other students to Rostov on Don, Russia, to work and perform with students at the Conservatoire. It has been my most memorable trip so far.

What are your plans for the future?
I hope to continue performing, and aim to encourage young people to participate in Scottish music and keep the tradition alive. I hope to be able to travel with music, as for me, touring is one of the most exciting aspects of being a musician.

Why not buy a ticket to hear Claire Hastings or any other of the finalists at the Grand Finals on Sunday February 1st at 5pm. The finals are part of Celtic Connections festival. If you can’t make it along the event will be broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland between 5 & 8pm and on the iPlayer afterwards.

BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award finalists announced

youngtradoutsideOn Saturday 4th October twelve young musicians from across Scotland came together to compete to win through to the finals of the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award 2015. It was a brilliant concert with each of the semi-finalists performing at Coulter Hall, Coulter. Each musician had ten minutes in which to impress the five judges. After much discussion the 2015 finalists are:

Ryan Young – fiddle (Cardross)
Claire Hastings – Scots song (Dumfries)
Heather Downie – clarsach (Dunblane)
Ainsley Hamill – Gaelic song (Cardross)
Gemma Donald – fiddle (Shetland)
Seamus O’Baoighill – fiddle (Skye)

The finals of the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award will be held on Sunday 1st February at the City Halls, Glasgow as part of the prestigious Celtic Connections festival.

Simon Thoumire, creative director of Hands Up for Trad said “This has been yet another fabulous year for Scottish traditional music. It gets harder and harder to choose between the young musicians entering the young trad award. The future of trad music is so exciting.”

The BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award is managed for BBC Radio Scotland by Hands Up for Trad and exists to encourage young musicians to keep their tradition alive and to maximise their musical potential by the pursuit of a career in traditional music. Each year the winner is provided with high profile performance opportunities and the necessary tools and advice they require to launch a career in traditional music.

The ‘Award’ takes the form of a competition which includes a fun residential weekend in October at Wiston Lodge, South Lanarkshire for 12 semi-finalists. The weekend includes workshops and advice on all aspects of working in the traditional music business plus a public concert with performances by the semi-finalists. From this concert, six finalists are chosen by a panel of judges to go forward to the grand final. This is held each February at a prestigious concert at Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow where one of the six is judged to be BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award winner for that year.

Ends

BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award website is www.youngtrad.scot

If you like to interview any of the finalists please Hands Up for Trad at info@handsupfortrad.scot

The 2014 winner was Robyn Stapleton www.robynstapleton.com

Hands Up for Trad was formed in 2002 and exists to increase the profile and visibility of Scottish Traditional Music through Information, Education and Advocacy. Hands Up for Trad’s primary aim is to promote excellence, visibility and developing talent within Scottish traditional music through our key projects; Scots Trad Music Awards, BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award, Scotland Sings, FolkWaves, Distil, Tinto Summer School and the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame. Follow us @handsupfortrad, www.handsupfortrad.scot, www.facebook.com/handsupfortrad

Invalid Displayed Gallery

Not long now to the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award semi-finals!

I can’t believe it! It is nearly time for the semi-finals of the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award! Are you coming? The semi-final concert is on Saturday 4th October in Coulter Hall, Coulter, South Lanarkshire. As always it will be a brilliant night. Tickets are £10 (£6 conc). You can buy them here or turn up on the night. http://projects.scottishcultureonline.com/youngtrad/events/bbc-radio-scotland-young-traditional-musician-award-semi-finals-2/

The semi-finalists are:

Lucie Hendry – clarsach (Laurencekirk)
Ryan Young – fiddle (Cardross)
Claire Hastings – Scots song (Dumfries)
Heather Downie – clarsach (Dunblane)
Rhoda Naomi Welsh – voice / piano (Stornoway)
Grant McFarlane – accordion (Paisley)
Ainsley Hamill – voice (Helensburgh)
Louise Bichan – fiddle (Orkney)
Gemma Donald – fiddle (Shetland)
Alexander Levack – whistle /pipes (Maryburgh)
Suzanne Houston – piano (Golspie)
Seamus O’Baoighill – fiddle (Skye)

From this final 6 musicians will win through to the final held at Celtic Connections festival, Glasgow on Sunday 1st February.