FIDDLE player Benedict Morris has been named BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2019, after an outstanding winning performance at Glasgow’s City Halls.
Judges were unanimous in awarding the 20-year-old the title, now seen as the premier accolade for young musicians in their field.
Each of the six finalists gave a stirring performance, broadcast live on BBC Radio Scotland as part of Celtic Connections.
But Benedict, of Glasgow, had the edge during an evening of superb entertainment.
Watch the performances
Sharon Mair, Editor Radio, Music & Events, BBC Scotland, says: “It was an exceptionally difficult decision for our judges – all of our finalists this year were simply superb. Benedict, however, particularly stood out.
“His stage presence was magnificent and absolutely captivated the audience from the second he stepped on the stage at the City Halls.
“Every year we are amazed at the high standard of young musicians who reach the finals.
“Benedict’s performance showed exactly the kind of skill and flair we were looking for. He has a very bright future ahead and we wish him huge success.”
Benedict was introduced to trad music at the age of five through Comhaltas and is now in his final year on the BMus classical course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. His current project is a collaboration with guitarist Cormac Crummey. He has toured the UK, Ireland and Europe with dance shows including Velocity with World Champion Irish dancer David Geaney.
Judges praised Benedict for his ‘great tone, control and technical ability’ and he was presented with his award by BBC Radio Scotland Commissioning Editor Gareth Hydes.
Benedict says: “Every one of the finalists gave a fantastic performance tonight so I’m absolutely thrilled to have won.
“Everyone on the trad scene holds this competition in such high regard, it’s an amazing springboard at such an early stage in your career and hugely respected in the industry. This is a fantastic start to 2019 and I’m truly honoured to have my name added to the list of amazing musicians who have won this award in the past.”
Benedict wins a recording session with BBC Scotland, he’ll perform at the Scots Trad Music Awards 2019 and be given a one-year membership to the Musicians Union. All finalists get a one-year membership to the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland (TMSA) plus the opportunity to take part in the TMSA’s annual Young Trad Tour.
Previous winners of the award who have gone on to make a big name for themselves on the trad scene include last year’s winner, singer Hannah Rarity and 2017 winner fiddle player Charlie Stewart. Other big names who used the competition as a major springboard in their careers include singer Robyn Stapleton who won in 2014 and talented 2004 winner, multi-instrumentalist Anna Massie.
Organised by BBC Radio Scotland, the Young Traditional Musician of The Year competition has been running since 2001, increasing the profile of Scottish traditional music and recognising rising talent in the genre.
Footage and live performances from the finals, including the winning performance, can be seen at bbc.co.uk/youngtrad
The other 2019 finalists were:
Luc McNally, 24, Dipton, Co Durham (now Glasgow) – guitar and voice
Luc was a finalist in last year’s contest but had to pull out at the eleventh hour when he injured his arm. He’s delighted to be back to full health for this year’s competition. Luc began playing in a youth band at 14 and became immersed in the trad styles of Northumberland, Scotland and Ireland. He began a BA degree in Scottish Music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, left to play professionally for a spell, then picked up his studies again, this time at the University of the Highlands and Islands. He plays with, among others, the traditional/fusion band Dosca and acoustic trio Snuffbox.
Cameron Ross, 24, Stonehaven – fiddle
Cameron Ross is a fiddle player from the North East of Scotland who has studied Scottish music at the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music, North East of Scotland Music School, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and spent a year studying bluegrass and old time music at East Tennessee State University. He incorporates these different styles in his playing, compositions and arrangements and has toured internationally.
Ross Miller, 23, Linlithgow – bagpipes
Ross graduated in July 2017 from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with a first-class-honours degree in Traditional Music. He plays in the World champion Inveraray and District Pipe Band and is a highly successful solo piper. Ross also enjoys performing at festivals and ceilidhs across Scotland and globally.
Catherine Tinney, 27, Skye – voice
Catherine was immersed in Gaelic culture and traditional music from a young age. She previously attended the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music in Plockton and is currently based in Glasgow where she is a Gaelic singing and language tutor.
Sarah Markey, 24, Coatbridge – flute
Developing her music from a young age at her local Comhaltas branch in Coatbridge, Sarah has successfully competed at various fleadhs and music competitions. With a degree in Spanish and Italian, Sarah has travelled extensively to experience new cultures and traditions. She is a regular on the Glasgow session scene and is also a member of up-and-coming band Suas.