2007 Awardee: Donald Grant

I am over the moon to have received an award from the Dewar Arts Awards.

Biography

Inverness-born Donald Grant was brought up in Lochaber. He learned Gaelic songs from his father and regularly attended Feisean nan Gaidheal. He won numerous prizes at the National Mod and Pan-Celtic festival.
At the age of 11, Donald went to St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh, and while there played as part of the folk group Ho Ro Gheallaidh.  He studied music at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester as a major scholar and student of Christopher Rowland. During his time there he won the Eleanor Warren Salon Prize, the John Webster String Prize, a Major Scholarship and a Concerto Award. He graduated with a degree and the PPRNCM with distinction, the college’s highest accolade.

Donald won further scholarships to support a 2-year Junior Fellowship also at the RNCM and a year of study at the Hochschule in Cologne, Germany. He has performed with many prestigious Chamber orchestras, including the Scottish Bach Consort and Camerata Scotland. He is also a gifted composer.

Donald is now a member of two of the most respected young chamber ensembles in the country, The Elias Quartet and Ensemble 360, and is gaining a reputation as a top-class classical musician. He is also a popular Scottish fiddler. At the Music in the Round concerts in the Crucible Studio Theatre, Sheffield, he regularly performs both classical and traditional Scottish, introducing classical enthusiasts to the energy and joy of traditional music. Donald is a ‘true advocate as the passion he feels for the traditional music of his homeland radiates through all that he does.’

Donald’s debut solo CD is due to be released in late 2007.

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Award will help Donald to purchase his own violin and bow.

I am over the moon to have received an award from the Dewar Arts Awards.

2007 Awardee: Graham Mackenzie

My Ewen Thomson violin, which I purchased with my Dewar Arts Award, has been fundamental in my development and success. I am extremely grateful for the support I received from the Trust.

Biography

Graham started to play the violin at six and won his first trophy at the age of nine. He has gone on to win many prizes and accolades, the most notable to date being in 2004 as the youngest ever winner at the Danny Kyle Open Stage.

Graham, from Inverness, is considered to be one of Scotland’s finest up-and-coming musicians who will become a leading player of his generation. Already he is an accomplished and exciting performer full of style and grace. In 2004 he was part of the band selected to support Blazin’ Fiddles on their Scottish tour. In 2005 he performed on the BBC Hogmanay Live show. He has performed on a number of occasions with fellow Dewar Arts Award winner, Aidan O’Rourke.

Graham has been a member of the National Children’s Orchestra of Scotland and is currently part of NYOS Strings. His ambition is to study classical music at one of the leading conservatoires in the country and to become a professional musician.

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Award enabled Graham to buy a Ewen Thomson fiddle. He says of it: “it is already a great instrument but will be even better once it has been fully played in.”

Since the Award

Graham writes that the violin he had made by Ewen Thomson is one which “I would have dreamt of playing when I began playing the fiddle at 6 years of age.” Since getting his new violin, Graham has won numerous prestigious prizes, including the inaugural Highland Young Musician of the Year in 2007.

In 2012 Graham was a finalist of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Musician of the Year, and in 2013 he graduated with a BMus (Hons) from the Royal Northern College of Music. He went on to study a Masters in Scottish Traditional Music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He attended Cape Breton University, Canada, as an exchange student, and in 2015 performed at the Celtic Connections festival with a New Voices commission.

2012: BBC Young Folk Musician of the Year Award finalist

My Ewen Thomson violin, which I purchased with my Dewar Arts Award, has been fundamental in my development and success. I am extremely grateful for the support I received from the Trust.

2007 Awardee: Jenna Reid

Biography

Shetland-born Jenna Reid began playing the fiddle when she was nine. Together with her brother, sister and pianist mother she formed the family band Filska. The band has recorded three albums and toured the world.

In 1995 Jenna, then 14 years old, won the ‘Shetlands Young Fiddler of the Year’ competition and 9 years’ later was a finalist in the ‘Young Scottish Traditional Musician of the Year’. In between she gained a good degree in Scottish traditional music at the RSAMD, Glasgow and became a professional musician.

In 2005 Jenna released her first solo album and won the award for ‘Best Up and Coming Artist’ at the Scots Traditional Music Awards. Jenna also performed with bands, including the Gaelic band Dochas and Scottish band Deaf Shepherd. As a member of Dochas she recorded two albums and won the award for ‘Best Up and Coming Band’ at the 2003 Scots Traditional Music Awards. All of this was achieved playing a fiddle found in her grandmother’s attic when she was 9 years old.

Not surprisingly, Jenna is regarded as one of the most talented and musical young fiddlers to have emerged in Scotland in the last few years. For more information about Jenna, please see www.jennareid.co.uk.

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Award will enable Jenna to purchase a professional standard fiddle, in time to use when recording her second solo album.

Since the Award

After recording her second CD ‘Laughing Girl’ was finished, Jenna writes that her new fiddle “was a joy to record with” and that now she has “more confidence in my instrument and what it can do and how it will sound at a concert or in a recording studio.” In her new violin, a Southern-German Klotz violin, Jenna has the sound that she wants as a professional fiddle player.

2007 Awardee: Michael Segaud

Biography

Hailing from Perth, Michael gained a music scholarship to Strathallan School in Perthshire and from that time onwards has devoted himself to becoming a professional musician. Michael says of himself that music is his passion and that he could not even dream of doing anything else.

At school, Michael took a major part in every musical production and led the School Symphony Orchestra in his final year. As a youngster, he played with NCOS, was a student at the RSAMD Youthworks and a choral scholar at Perth Cathedral. Since 2001 Michael has been part of NYOS and the prestigious Camerata Scotland, and since 2006 he has played with NYOS Futures.

Michael is currently a student at the Royal Northern College of Music on an entrance scholarship where he is studying viola. He has impressed as a talented, imaginative and individual musician. His development is being hampered by the lack of a good instrument.

Since the Award

The Dewar Arts Award will enable Michael to purchase a professional standard viola.

2007 Awardee: Miriam-Rose McFadyen

I really appreciate that the trustees felt I was worthy for an award and it will be such a huge help to me and my family

Biography

Dundee-born Miriam-Rose started to learn the violin when she was 12 and quickly showed natural talent. In those days, she played on a borrowed violin. When she was 16 she successfully auditioned for the BMus course at Glasgow’s RSAMD. By this time, she was playing for Scotland’s String and Youth Orchestras and was the youngest member of the prestigious Camerata Scotland.

After graduation Miriam-Rose continued at RSAMD to study for a Postgraduate Diploma in Performance, helped by a full scholarship from SAAS, and she is currently continuing on their MMus course. She has played with all of the Academy’s orchestras and was co-leader of the Symphony Orchestra. She rates playing under the baton of the ‘inspirational’ Vladimir Ashkenazy as one of her musical highlights to date.

Miriam-Rose’s ambition is to play professionally in an orchestra and to that end she won a place on the RSAMD/Scottish Opera apprenticeship scheme. She has since played professionally with both Scottish Opera and the RNSO. Miriam-Rose has also been noticed as ‘an exciting and impressive young soloist’ by music critics whom she has impressed with the combination of excellent technique with an instinctive musicality and lovely tone.

Miriam-Rose has been playing on an old Italian violin on loan from the RSAMD since her second year of undergraduate study. Now it is time for her to have her own professional standard instrument.

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Award enabled Miriam-Rose to buy a contemporary Scottish-made Ewen Thompson violin, which is a high-quality violin at an affordable price for musicians at the start of their professional career.

I really appreciate that the trustees felt I was worthy for an award and it will be such a huge help to me and my family

2007 Awardee: Robert Torrance

Thank you so much for offering me … an extremely generous music grant award. I accept with great appreciation.

Biography

From the lovely Fife town of St. Andrews, Robert’s greatest ambition is to lead a successful career as a professional solo violinist. Those who have heard Robert have no difficulty in believing that he will achieve his ambition.

At the tender age of 10, Robert won the gold medal of the under-18 final of the Indiana State Violin Competition. At 14, he won the Open String Solo competition, Festival Medal and Stringer Prize at the Edinburgh Musical Competition Festival. Two years’ later he was one of 13 competitors selected for the Yfrah Neaman International Violin Competition in Germany and in 2005 he won an Arts Trust of Scotland award to study with Professor Oistrakh in Brussels.

Robert’s tally of solo performances with orchestra is equally impressive. While he was still at school he performed the Saint-Saens’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso with the University of St Andrews’ Symphony Orchestra. The conductor for this performance describes him as a young man of personal and musical maturity, who was focused and a pleasure to work with.

In 2007 he performed Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy and Dvorak’s Romance with the Dundee Symphony Orchestra, receiving rave reviews. In the light of the success of this performance, he was invited back to perform Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with the orchestra. He was a member of the National Youth Orchestra for three years.

Currently studying psychology at York University, Robert also finds the time to pursue other interests which include skiing, Munro climbing and fly fishing.

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Award will provide Robert with a new violin bow and financial assistance to study with the esteemed violin teacher Leland Chen.

Thank you so much for offering me … an extremely generous music grant award. I accept with great appreciation.

2007 Awardee: Ruth Davidson

Receiving this award means a lot to me and without it I would not be able to afford my own instrument of such a standard … I am very excited about my new violin!

Biography

From Leuchars in Fife, Ruth started to play the violin at the age of seven. She gained entrance to the RSAMD Youthworks when she was 15 years old. She has been a member of NYOS, the NYOS String Ensemble as well as leader of the Fife Youth Orchestra and the Kingdom Fiddlers.

Throughout her playing career, Ruth has won a number of awards and scholarships including the Wolfson Scholarship at the RSAMD Junior Department (2005), the Professor Newnham Scholarship for Best Performer (2005 & 2006) and first place in the Bell Baxter Centenary Music Competition (2006).

Ruth is currently studying music at the Royal Northern College of Music where she recently gained a first in her final year recital. Ruth’s further musical development is being hampered by the lack of a good instrument.

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Award will enable her to buy a professional standard violin.

Receiving this award means a lot to me and without it I would not be able to afford my own instrument of such a standard … I am very excited about my new violin!

2007 Awardee: Ryan Young

Thank you very much for your generous award … this will make such a difference to my musical career.

Biography

Hailing from Cardross, Ryan started playing the fiddle at the age of nine and from that moment decided that he wanted to be a professional musician. Ryan has been attending the RSAMD (Youthworks) programme, for which he was awarded a scholarship.

Ryan has twice won the Lomond Folk Festival Young Traditional Musician title. In 2006 he was a finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Musician competition and in early 2007 was winner of the Danny Kyle Open Stage competition at Celtic Connections. While still 16 years old, Ryan successfully auditioned for the RSAMD degree course in traditional Scottish music. The place is being held open for him until he is 17.

Ryan plays with a musicality, sensitivity and maturity that belie his young age. He is also very inventive and imaginative in his tune arrangements, and regularly comes up with new and exciting ideas. Ryan is also a fine composer, again producing tunes that are musical, unusual and youthful. His fellow students are always keen to learn his compositions, which is a sure sign that they are good.

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Award will help him buy a good-quality professional fiddle.

Since the Award

Ryan writes that he spent a long time searching for the right fiddle, and eventually found what he considers to be his ‘dream instrument’ and which he hopes will last him throughout his playing career. He says that “it has a beautiful tone which I am learning to control…it has an enormous dynamic range with a large variety of different sounds and is everything I could possibly hope for in a fiddle .. it has helped me to begin to develop what my fiddle teacher considers to be a unique style of playing..and I feel that I am no longer restricted in achieving my ambitions.” Ryan is now studying both Scottish Traditional Music and classical violin at RSAMD.

Thank you very much for your generous award … this will make such a difference to my musical career.

2007 Awardee: Stewart Webster

I came across an instrument which … I fell in love with instantly and have decided to purchase… I have been playing it constantly since and my new teacher assures me that it is most definitely good enough to go into the profession with.

Biography

Fife-born Stewart Webster comes from a very musical family and started to learn the piano and percussion at an early age. When he was 12 he included the violin in his repertoire. Like many aspiring young Scottish musicians, Stewart was accepted into the junior department of the RSAMD and progressed to the senior RSAMD where he is studying for a degree in music.

While still a student at RSAMD, Stewart auditioned for the RSNO’s professional access scheme. His ‘incredible lyrical and beautiful playing’ stood out from the other students for its maturity and individual style. His ability to communicate music to an audience has led many professional ensembles in Scotland to seek him out, and he plays regularly with the Alba String Quartet and the Scottish Ensemble. He also plays regularly with the Scottish Opera orchestra.

Stewart won the Eric Dodds Memorial Scholarship for the most outstanding violinist at the RSAMD.

While in his final year at RSAMD, Stewart won a place on the postgraduate diploma course at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Already considered to be a violinist of high calibre, Stewart will use this further year of study to help him reach his full potential.

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Award enables Stewart to purchase a violin of performance quality to last him into his professional life.

I came across an instrument which … I fell in love with instantly and have decided to purchase… I have been playing it constantly since and my new teacher assures me that it is most definitely good enough to go into the profession with.

2006 Awardee: Lauren MacColl

Biography

In the words of one of the leading teachers of Scottish Traditional Music, Lauren is “quite simply the best I have ever seen”.

Lauren was brought up in Fortrose in the Black Isle and is musically rooted in the traditional music of the Highlands.

She made an impressive start to her early music career by winning the 2004 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Musician of the Year award, while still a student at the RSAMD in Glasgow. Her success highlighted not only her technical ability, but an emotional maturity well beyond her years.

After winning the prestigious title, Lauren made a notable appearance at the Cambridge Folk Festival, considered to be the jewel among the international folk festivals.

The next logical step in her burgeoning career was to produce a marketable CD, which would also afford her the opportunity to experiment and grow musically.

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Awards enabled Lauren to produce a debut CD to showcase her exceptional musical talent.

Since the Award

Lauren’s debut CD, “When Leaves Fall”, was launched in March 2007.  A subsequently album “Strewn with Ribbons” was released in May 2009. In late 2009 she was nominated for the “Instrumentalist of the Year” at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards.  For further information, see www.laurenmaccoll.co.uk.