TALENTED fiddle player Charlie Stewart was named BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2017 last night (Sunday Feb 5) after a rousing winning performance at Glasgow’s City Halls.
Judges were unanimous in awarding the 21-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 Charlie, of Glenfarg, Perthshire, had the edge during an evening of superb entertainment.
Jeff Zycinski, Head of Radio at BBC Scotland, said: “Charlie is exactly the type of performer we wanted to shine the spotlight on when we launched the search for this year’s winner. His stunning performance was both moving and spirited and really captivated the audience.
“Every year, the judging process becomes more difficult with musicians of such a high calibre coming through the ranks. Our six finalists were magnificent, each one stamping their set with true individuality and flair.
“It was an extremely difficult choice, but Charlie stood out on the night. He will really help to inspire and encourage the next generation of young artists to keep traditional music alive.”
Charlie first picked up the fiddle aged nine. He is now working towards a BMus (Jazz), studying Jazz bass with Mario Caribe and fiddle with Marie Feilding at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. Currently playing with Dosca, Sketch and Snuffbox, he has performed all over Europe. In 2016 he reached the semi-finals of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards playing with harpist Becky Hill, and has also won the Danny Kyle award with playing partner Ross Miller.
He said: “I’m amazed and so pleased to win. Everyone performed fantastically well in the finals. To be singled out as winner is such an honour. The BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year is such a well-respected competition. I’m really excited about the doors it will open.”
Charlie wins a recording session with BBC Scotland and 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 used their victory as a major springboard to a professional career in music include last year’s winner, concertina virtuoso Mohsen Amini, 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.
You can watch all the finalists sets here.
The other 2017 finalists were:
Dougie McCance, 24, Erskine, Renfrewshire – Bagpipes
Dougie began playing the bagpipes when he was just 10 and by the age of 14 was a member of the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland. For the past seven years he’s been part of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and has just returned from a tour of Saudi Arabia with the band.
Currently studying for a BA in Applied Music at the University of Highlands and Islands, some of Dougie’s career highlights so far include recording part of the soundtrack for animated film How To Train Your Dragon 2, playing at T in the Park and accompanying Ed Sheeran at the MTV EMA Awards. He wants to one day record his own solo album.
Ella Munro, 20, Isle of Skye – Scots Song
After studying for five years at the acclaimed National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music at Plockton High School, Ella is now studying Scots Song at the RCS. After graduation, she hopes to become a secondary school music teacher.
In 2012, she sang with a specially-formed choir, Youth Music Voices, as part of the London Olympics. She’s also a part of the National Youth Choir of Scotland and toured the US with the group last summer, performing at the Independence Day celebrations in Chicago.
Ella wants to release her own EP this year and is looking forward to some live tour dates.
Grant McFarlane, 26, Paisley, Renfrewshire – Accordion
Grant usually watches the Young Trad finals from the audience – this year he’ll be a performer.
After forming his own ceilidh band when he was only 12, he went on to study at the RCS and has been working as a full-time musician, both performing and teaching, since he graduated in 2012.
A member of folk band CherryGrove, Grant has toured countries including India and Australia.
His big passion is ensuring the legacy of trad music is handed to the next generation and in 2014, he organised a committee to deliver Fèis Phàislig, the first ever Fèis in Renfrewshire. By last year, nearly 100 children were involved and Grant now delivers year-round tuition.
Iona Fyfe, 19, Huntly, Aberdeenshire – Scots Song
Iona’s family began teaching her Doric poetry when she was only five and by the time she was in primary school, she was regularly competing in traditional ballad competitions and attending events through the Traditional Music And Song Association.
Mid-way through her second year studying for a BMus Traditional Music at the RCS, Iona now lives in Glasgow during term time but her singing style is deeply rooted in the traditions of the North East of Scotland. Her interpretation of material both old and new is contemporary yet sympathetic.
A semi-finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards in 2015 and now again in 2017, Iona released a six-song CD, East, to great acclaim in 2016 and is currently working on her first full solo album.
Kim Carnie, 23, Glasgow (originally Oban) – Gaelic Song:
Kim was hooked on Scots song from the moment when, aged three, her grandfather taught her to sing Bonnie Wee Jeanie McColl. Although not from a Gaelic-speaking household, when she began to learn Gaelic at school, love of the language grew. With a strong ceilidh culture growing up in Oban, Argyll, she was encouraged to sing at local celebrations and her talent was clear.
Kim, who graduated with a law degree from Strathclyde University last summer, recently joined Hanna Tullikki’s ‘Air Falbh Leis na h-Eòin/Away with the Birds’ project and she has performed at both the Cambridge and Orkney Folk Festivals.
Laura Davidson – mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: 07770368553
Pictures: Alan Peebles, mailto:email@example.com, tel: 07973 706009
Watch Charlie’s winning performance!