BBC Radio Scotland’s annual celebration of young musical talent raised the roof at the City Halls in Glasgow last night (Sunday Jan 31) when Mohsen Amini won the title of Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2016.
Concertina player Mohsen, 22, made his mark at the event which was broadcast live on BBC Radio Scotland as part of Celtic Connections 2016, presented by Bruce MacGregor.
Each of the six finalists gave a rousing 15-minute performance showing real talent across a wide range of musical approaches. Watch their performances here.
But Mohsen, of Glasgow, just had the edge during a superb night of entertainment.
Head of BBC Radio Scotland Jeff Zycinski says: “Our six finalists were magnificent. Each one of them brought an individuality and flair to their performance that both impressed and entertained.
“Yet again, we were faced with an extremely difficult choice but we felt Mohsen produced the best performance on the night.
“Mohsen encapsulates exactly the kind of performer we set out to find when BBC Radio Scotland launched the search for this year’s Young Traditional Musician Of The Year.
“Performances like his and the others we saw tonight will encourage a new generation to keep these important traditions alive and to maximise their musical potential.”
Mohsen, of Glasgow, began playing concertina at 10. Heavily influenced by both Irish and Scottish music, he is a member of various bands and with one – Talisk – won a BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award in 2015, followed up with a live session on Mark Radcliffe’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Show. Later this year Mohsen’s first albums with Talisk and another band ÍMAR will be released.
Watch performances from the finalists!
He 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 who have used their award win as a major springboard to a professional career in music include Anna Massie, Stuart Cassells, Robyn Stapleton, Paddy Callaghan and Rona Wilkie.
The other 2016 finalists were:
Hannah MacRae (Lochaber) – fiddle:
Originally of Fort William, Hannah now lives in Glasgow while she studies for her BMus Scottish Music degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She began playing fiddle when she was still at primary school and by the time she was 14 she won her first major title at the junior solo International fiddle competition in Carlow, Ireland. Hannah is a strong believer in keeping up tradition – in particular the culture of traditional music and Gaelic – and has been teaching fiddle for the past year.
Jessica Burton (Orkney) – clarsach:
Wanting to stand out from all the fiddle players on Orkney, a young Jessica began playing clarsach at 11 and joined school fiddle group Hadhirgaan, led by Douglas Montgomery. She graduated with a degree in Scottish music from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2012 and her performances have taken her across the country as well as across the pond to Canada, playing for the likes of Prince Charles and Prime Minister David Cameron. Now holding teaching posts at both the Glasgow Academy and the Junior Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Jessica has released an EP, Mira, with harpist Sarah MacNeil and has a collection of new tunes from Orcadian composers out later this year.
Murray Willis (Lismore) – accordion:
Originally from the Isle of Lismore, Argyll, a young Murray found playing his accordion the perfect reminder of home to help him get over homesickness as he boarded in Oban while at high school. As a teenager, he and friend Robbie Greig – a fellow finalist – played at London’s Royal Albert Hall with their band Room 5 and last year Murray performed with a ceilidh band during a charity trip to Iraq to raise funds for an orphanage in the troubled country. A Gaelic speaker, Murray, who is also learning piano and saxophone, works with a welding company, but says being a Young Trad finalist is cementing his ambition to be a full-time musician.
Robbie Greig (Edinburgh) – fiddle:
Robbie, of Edinburgh, is studying for a degree in Applied Music at UHI Benbecula – a college he first attended with fellow finalist Murray Willis when he was just 16. He inherited his love of trad music from his banjo-playing dad and, after at first learning classical violin, switched to traditional fiddle. He learned under Gregor Borland while also attending Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin’ and Fèis Rois. In Uist, Robbie received tuition from renowned tutor Anna-Wendy Stevenson and joined the band Room 5 with whom he performed at the Royal Albert Hall. He recently stepped in on fiddle at a couple of gigs for one of his favourite bands, Malinky, and has plans for a solo album on the horizon.
Ryan Young (Cardross) – fiddle:
A finalist for the second year running, Ryan graduated with a first-class honours degree in Scottish Music from The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and is now studying for his MMus. He is a previous finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards and won the Celtic Connections Danny Kyle Open Stage in 2007. His sound is very distinctive, focusing mainly on Scottish and Cape Breton tunes, always played in his own unique way. A recent musical highlight for Ryan was getting to perform with Dennis Cahill, one of his biggest inspirations, at the Feakle festival in Ireland in 2015.
Laura Davidson – firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: 07770368553
Picture by Allan Peebles, more being sent separately – email@example.com, 07973 706009