2005 Awardee: Angus Nicolson

The Daughter of Dewar Award has been a huge benefit to me, both for my career, and for my personal development....if it wasn't for the Award I would not have had the opportunities I have had to date.

Biography

Piping has been in Angus Nicolson’s family for generations. Although no-one in the long line of Nicolson pipers had the opportunity to develop their musical talents to a professional level, until now.

From the beautiful Isle of Skye, Angus was a pupil of the well-respected teacher of piping, Iain MacFadyen.
Angus has won many prizes at some of the most prestigious piping competitions in Scotland, including the Northern Meeting and the MacGregor Memorial Competition.

He has shown his versatility by being equally successful in the light music categories as well as the Piobaireachd categories, regarded as the classical music of the pipes.

Currently at Benbecula College, Angus has his sights set on studying Scottish Music at the RSAMD, Glasgow before going on to a solo career as a piper.

How the Award Helped

Angus received a Daughter of Dewar Award to buy a set of handmade Fred Morrison reelpipes.

Since the Award

Before making the purchase, Angus was able to try Fred’s own set of reelpipes. Since he got his own set, his career has gone from strength to strength. His many performances include a gig at Celtic Connections with fellow Award winner, Sarah Naylor.

Angus writes that the instrument ‘is a joy to play, sounds excellent and is as reliable as anyone could want.’ Owning such a top-quality instrument inspires him to practise even more.

The Daughter of Dewar Award has been a huge benefit to me, both for my career, and for my personal development....if it wasn't for the Award I would not have had the opportunities I have had to date.

2005 Awardee: Andrew Dunlop

A hundred thousand thanks for helping to make my dream of becoming a concert pianist a reality

Biography

Hailing from Connel, a small village near Oban, Andrew is a prodigious musical talent. He started learning piano at the age of 8 with Geoffrey Heald-Smith. He studied harp and composition with Savourna Stevenson, whom she describes as one of her most talented students.

Andrew is an energetic and charismatic young performer with an impressive CV including BBC radio and TV performances, Celtic Connections Festival and the winner of many music prizes.  He has an interest in a broad range of musical genres, which embraces both his commitment to his Scottish musical roots and a passion for the challenge of the piano concert repertoire.

He won the Mòd Piano Competition five years in a row and was then politely asked not to enter again in order to give others a chance! He has represented Scotland at the Pan Celtic Festival in Ireland, winning First Prizes in the Group and New Song Competition and Second Prize in the International Harp Competition. Also a talented clàrsach player, Andrew performed at the prestigious World Harp Congress in 2002.

More recent competition successes includes reaching the final of the RNCM Concerto Competition, the Manager’s Discretionary Award for outstanding performance at the Jacques Samuels Intercollegiate Piano Competition, and an award by the John Ireland Society of his complete solo piano works.  In 2006 Andrew won the RNCM Ravel Competition, giving him the chance to perform Ravel’s G Major Piano Concerto as soloist with the RNCM Symphony Orchestra.

In 2005, he received a full scholarship to attend the Gold Country Piano Institute’s ‘Mastercourse in Interpretation’ in California. Subsequently, he was selected to perform in several concerts around California.  2006 performances include Mozart’s Concerto in A Major K488 with the Nottingham Youth Orchestra and Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the RNCM Concert Orchestra.

Andrew is studying piano at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where he is considered to be an intelligent and talented pianist with enormous potential.  He plans to continue at RNCM on the Master’s programme for which he has been awarded a Major Entrance Scholarship.

How the Award Helped

Andrew received a Daughter of Dewar Award towards the purchase of a grand piano.

Since the Award

Since buying a grand piano, Andrew graduated from RNCM with first-class honours, the Alfred Class Pianoforte Scholarship for the highest Final Recital mark and the Hilda Anderson Den Award for highest academic marks. He was also the first student to perform two concertos with the college orchestra in the same year. Not to mention being the first student to perform in a kilt.  Andrew attributes a lot of this success to being able to practise on a professional-quality piano.

Andrew is now pursuing an MMus at RNCM. He has also won a Fulbright Scholarship to continue his studies at Eastman College, Rochester, towards a DMA.

A hundred thousand thanks for helping to make my dream of becoming a concert pianist a reality

2005 Awardee: Amira Bedrush-McDonald

I have surprised myself with the amount of progress I've made as a violinist and the whole experience is enabling me to grow in many ways I never expected. This opportunity would [have been] impossible without the kind support from the Dewar Arts Awards.

Biography

According to her violin tutor at the RSAMD, Amira has ‘star quality’ and is quite simply the best violinist he has ever taught. Not only does she have an outstanding talent as a violinist, but she also has the ability to hold an audience. While still at the RSAMD in Glasgow Amira regularly brought the house down at student gigs with her techno-rock ceilidh group, which she formed with friends from school.

After she completed a Masters in music at the RSAMD, Amira could have begun a successful professional career, but she was encouraged to set her professional sights at the highest possible level.

She is currently in a postgraduate programme in Texas studying with leading violin tutor, Brian Lewis.
Shortly after arriving in Austin, Amira auditioned for the University Symphony Orchestra and was thrilled to be offered the post of Concertmaster.  In her first concert she played the solo violin part in Brahm’s Symphony No. 1, which was extremely well received.  After a successful first year, Amira writes, “My dreams seem more accessible now.”

How the Award Helped

Amira received a Dewar Arts Award to support her studies at the Texas Music School.

Since the Award

May 2007: After two years studying violin performance at the University of Texas with Brian Lewis, Amira graduated in May 2007 with a Master in Music and the “Outstanding Master of Music Recital Prize”. She writes, “I feel incredibly fortunate that I was afforded the space, time and opportunity to learn such a great deal and also have the support and belief that I was capable of doing it.”

Amira is now working in the UK as a full-time musician. She and fellow Dewar Award-winner, Genna Spinks, have formed a string duo.

March 2017: in 2015 I became a member of the 1st violins in the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. For me, this is a dream job which has involved tours round Europe, India and the Far East, and has included making highly acclaimed recordings and also appearances at the BBC Proms. I feel incredibly lucky to have had the support from the Dewar Arts Awards 2005-2007 and know that my chosen career path might not have been possible without it.

I have surprised myself with the amount of progress I've made as a violinist and the whole experience is enabling me to grow in many ways I never expected. This opportunity would [have been] impossible without the kind support from the Dewar Arts Awards.

2005 Awardee: Aidan O’Rourke

What Aidan combines is the best of what I regard as 'Scottishness', outstanding ability and outstanding commitment, all delivered with great humour

Biography

Aidan O’Rourke was brought up in the West Coast town of Oban and moved with his family to the beautiful Seil Island, near Oban, as a teenager. He lived there until going to university in Glasgow at 18.

In 2005 he took up a two-year musician-in-residence at the Tolbooth in Stirling, which the Artistic Director says “is as much about nurturing Aidan’s talents as a composer and musician as it is about the Tolbooth utilizing the talents of the musician”.

In 2004 Aidan was commissioned by Fife Community Services to compose and perform a piece of music to celebrate the visit of his holiness the Dalai Lama to Fife. As part of the project he worked with troubled young people with a broad range of musical talents.

According to all who worked with him, Aidan’s work on the project was ‘inspirational’, both in relation to the composition and to the performance he drew out of the youngsters.

How the Award Helped

Aidan received a Daughter of Dewar Award to buy a new fiddle.

Since the Award

Aidan is a busy recording and performing fiddler at the top of his game, including playing and recording with Blazin’ Fiddles and his new trio Lau. His fiddle was coming to the end of its life, and Aidan badly needed a new one to match his abilities and to enable him to challenge himself musically.

What Aidan combines is the best of what I regard as 'Scottishness', outstanding ability and outstanding commitment, all delivered with great humour

2005 Awardee: Aaron McGregor

I am enjoying the violin very much and am very grateful for the help I have been given

Biography

Aaron writes that “since both my parents are musicians, music has always been a central part of my life.”

Multi-talented Aaron has been playing the violin since the age of 7 and now also plays guitar and piano, sings and writes music.

Brought up in Canada and now based in Orkney, Aaron has immersed himself in the local traditional music scene. He plays with many of the Scottish orchestras and has been involved in several productions at the St Magnus Festival.

Aaron is now studying music at Edinburgh University.

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Award enabled Aaron to buy a performance-standard violin.  A second Award funded the purchase of a new bow.

I am enjoying the violin very much and am very grateful for the help I have been given

2004 Awardee: Katie Mackenzie

I have been immersed in traditional music and song from a young age and have always known it is what I want to pursue a career in

Biography

From an early age Katie wanted to be a traditional musician.

She has supported well-known Scottish band Capercaillie and performed at the Festival de Cornouaille in Brittany, Falun Folk Festival in Sweden and the Edinburgh Fiddle Festival. In 2005 she performed at Celtfest in Cork as part of the European City of Culture Celebrations.

Katie is studying Scottish music at the RSAMD, Glasgow.

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Award enabled Katie to buy her a professional-standard clàrsach.

I have been immersed in traditional music and song from a young age and have always known it is what I want to pursue a career in

2003 Awardee: Maeve Gilchrist

I promise to make the most of all the opportunities that have been given to me and to push my own limits musically, particularly on the harp

Biography

Even by the time Maeve was nominated for an Award she was an accomplished singer, clàrsach player and teacher.

She performed a specially-commissioned piece by Martyn Bennett on electro-clàrsach at the opening of the Scottish Parliament and has been invited to perform at several high-profile events since.

A graduate of the Broughton School of Music in Edinburgh, Maeve explains why she chose Berklee, “It was founded in the early 20th Century … as a place to study the roots of jazz and blues as well as moving with the times and embracing the modern rock and pop cultures..  I feel I would develop more as a musician if I developed my knowledge of jazz and blues.”

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Award supported Maeve for four years at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Since the Award

Maeve teamed up with two Argentinian musicians, also Berklee graduates, to form the Maeve Gilchrist Trio, who create a wonderful fusion of Scottish traditional, Latin American and jazz rhythms.  Her debut album “Reaching Me” was released in 2006.  Maeve divides her time between the States and the UK.  For more information about Maeve’s current work, see her website www.maevegilchristmusic.com.

I promise to make the most of all the opportunities that have been given to me and to push my own limits musically, particularly on the harp