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