Congratulations to Raymond Bremner who has been nominated in Gaelic singer of the Year sponsored by The Highland Society of London in the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2020. Vote here! Vote now!
We asked Raymond Bremner the following questions.
Tell us about yourself
I live in a small village, Thrumster, near Wick in Caithness with my close family. I am one of the local Councillors here and also one of the leaders at Highland Council. Apart from that my life is steeped in music. I am involved a lot in voluntary organisations supporting the local community. I tutor singers and conduct Gaelic choirs and local junior choirs. I am Chair of the Caithness and Sutherland Provincial Mòd and have been involved in a number of local and international music festivals. My volunteer work involved a lot of travelling – I love travelling and attending other music festivals, especially cultural festivals but the current situation has limited that this year.
Why are you involved in Scottish music?
I have been involved in Scottish music since childhood, playing piano and guitar, and singing and competing in local festivals and attending folk festivals in my teenage years. I became involved in the Gaelic music scene in the mid-nineties when I attended a festival on the Isle of Lewis – Fèis nan Còisir. I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough of it. My best friend was my inspiration in the language. I went on to become a member of Gaelic choirs and at the same time I started to compete at local and national Mòds. I now tutor singers and I am conductor of two successful Gaelic choirs that all compete at local and national Mòds and two junior choirs that compete at local music festivals. Every year, for twenty years, in the summer, I have hosted daily cèilidhs in a local venue – the Old Smiddy Inn – for international visitors to Scotland. With an estimated 30,000 guests we have introduced them all to Gaelic and Scottish folk ballads as well as the history of the songs and poetry behind them.
Any particular career highlights?
Without a doubt, winning the Royal National Mòd Gold Medal in 1999 was a highlight. Going on to win the traditional medal at the Canadian National Mòd in 2001 in Vancouver and then the Traditional Song Competition at the International Pan Celtic Festival in 2009 in Co. Donegal, Ireland. I have been a guest artiste in numerous Gaelic TV music programmes, promoting Gaelic music all over the world – in the USA, Canada and Ireland and introducing an estimated 30,000 visitors to Scotland to Gaelic song at our local cèilidh for over 20 years. Tutoring and watching a number of premier prize winners at the National Mòd.
What are your plans for the future?
I am currently in the middle of creating the material and recording a new album of self accompanied Gaelic song. There aren’t many albums that have been released with self accompanied piano and voice Gaelic song out there so this one will be a bit different. I am also working with one of my choirs and we are in the middle of recording an album for release possibly in the next year depending on the current situation. I have been developing online musical events and this is a whole new world where those of us who have been doing this can bring music right into the house. When the cèilidhs restart, we will be looking to continue these for years to come and it would be nice to hit the 40,000 visitor mark at some point. The tutoring of singers and the conducting of choirs will continue as well 🙂
The MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards, Na Trads 2020, will be broadcast on BBC ALBA on 12th December 2020 at 9pm where the award winners will be announced along with specially recorded music performances. During the day on Saturday the 12th, you will be able to watch from 1pm til 9pm a day of live Scottish trad music including Kinnaris Quintet, Dallahan, Inyal, Paul McKenna Band, Ryan Young and Jenn Butterworth and many more here https://youtu.be/amByvVzxl5E. Keep up to date with all the latest information by joining the Hands Up for Trad newsletter at https://handsup.link/Newsletter or use the hashtags #natrads #HUFTonline.
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