Grant McFarlane from Paisley is a finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2017. We asked Grant the following questions:
How did you get involved in Scottish music?
In the early years of my accordion playing, my focus was on classical and continental music competing across Scotland and further afield. However, I was always much more keen to take part and listen to the traditional competitions and quickly formed my own ceilidh band at the age of 12. After being accepted to the Conservatoire, and under the guidance of Ian Muir and John Somerville, my ability and repertoire developed greatly as I was able to immerse myself in the world of traditional music.
Why did you enter BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award?
The competition has been an amazing opportunity to meet other musicians, learn new material and spend some focused time on my playing. As a full-time musician, I’ve been very lucky to keep busy with various different projects over the last few years but spending time on my own playing often ends up being pushed to one side. I’m looking forward to spending more time on my playing over the next few months leading up to the finals.
What do you hope to gain from the experience?
I’m very excited to perform at the City Halls for the finals having sat in the audience for the last few years. Most of my performing experience so far has been as part of groups so I’m looking forward to the challenge of preparing my own set for such a huge stage! I hope the experience will provide further opportunities to play and work with other musicians.
Do you have any particular musical highlights?
Playing with folk band, CherryGrove, has given me some incredible opportunities over the last few years. We have been very luck to be able to travel to countries like India and Australia whilst making music with great friends. Experiencing this side of performing and the amazing places we have seen has been one of my highlights.
I have always been grateful for the opportunities given to me as a young person to play music and have been keen over the last few years to try and pass that on. In 2014, I organised a committee to deliver Fèis Phàislig, the first ever Fèis in Renfrewshire. In 2015, we had our first Fèis week which was hugely successful and gave 55 young people from across Renfrewshire the opportunity to try traditional music. This grew in 2016 to 94 children and we now deliver year round tuition with weekly lessons in accordion, fiddle, guitar and singing. To see so many young people being given the opportunity I was given to play music has been an amazing highlight for me and I hope to see some of them inspired to take up traditional music as a career in the future.
What are your plans for the future?
As well as carrying on my work for the Fèis in Paisley and teaching across Scotland, I’d like to work on more of my own music, both performing and composing. In the immediate future, I better get practising for the finals…
Why not buy a ticket to hear Grant McFarlane or any other of the finalists at the Grand Finals on Sunday February 5th 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.