Radio Scotland Music Finalists Perform in Strachur

Item Posted: Monday 30th August, 2004

The Traditional Music and Song Association have arranged a country-wide tour of some of the best young traditional musicians around. The only Argyll event will be held in Strachur Memorial Hall on Sunday 3rd October at 5.00 p.m.

The tour features all the finalists from this year’s BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award, together with the 2003 winner, Anna Massie. This showcase for some of our most talented young musicians, and likely stars of the future, was first seen at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections in January and was a sellout, and considered to be one of the highlights of the Festival. The award itself, in its fourth year, is an established and internationally recognised platform to represent the breadth and depth of Scotland’s instrumental and vocal traditions.

Not everyone is enthusiastic about the idea of competition in music, particularly in traditional music where much of the fun is in its informality and relaxed atmosphere. Judges also have the unenviable task of not just deciding who is best on a particular instrument as in competitions such as the Mod, but deciding whether a supreme fiddler is “better” than an outstanding singer. Although aficionados of a particular instrument or style might have initial reservations, no-one can argue that a huge depth of talent is unearthed by competitions such as this. The resulting concert proves that all of the finalists were winners, but the major winners are the audience, who are treated to virtuoso displays of Gaelic song, clarsach, fiddle, accordion, guitar and Scots ballads.

The event in January got top ratings from The Herald:

…this year's final featured one of the strongest fields yet, making the judges' job of choosing a winner no enviable task. All six contestants were experienced performers with their own musical personalities, all well capable of putting their own
interpretations into tunes and songs and each contributing to the entertainment value of an evening that each year becomes increasingly more nerve-wracking for the audience than it appears to be for the tremendously assured and often jocularly nonchalant performer.

And from the Scotsman:

Gaelic singer James Graham from Lochinver beat off strong competition to become the first male Young Scots Traditional Musician of the Year, with a set of impeccably performed songs. The six finalists delivered a richly entertaining concert, and each provided yet more evidence of the remarkable growth in standards in traditional music in recent years. Three of the contenders were fiddle players who also sang,
and each brought a distinctive stylistic approach to proceedings.

The TMSA originally approached the Lochgoilhead Fiddle Workshop to host this event in Loch Goil as an enthusiastic local audience for top quality traditional music had already been established there, but the Workshop felt that not all those interested would be able to travel to Loch Goil. By holding the event in Strachur they hope that people from a wider geographic area will feel like attending!

At the same time a rare opportunity came up for an music organization in Cowal to link with a group in Bute, and the TMSA branch in Bute are co-hosting the event. It is therefore particularly appropriate that Western Ferries are sponsoring the concert.Both TMSA (Bute) and Lochgoilhead Fiddle Workshop hope that this is the first of many co-operative events between Bute and the main land.

The concert in Strachur will give Cowal residents and visitors a rare opportunity, whether they are “into” traditional music or just appreciate good quality music, to hear a range of soloists playing a wide range of music and song.

Fortunately extra sponsorship has also been found, which means that ticket prices have been kept below the sort of prices charged in Glasgow. James Bilsland (Oil and Gas Distributors), and Cowal Building Suppliers have generously donated towards the costs, so tickets have been pegged at £6.00 (adults) and £3.00 (schoolchildren), if bought in advance. For more information and bookings please call 01301 703481, 01 01700 831614, or check out the web site www.fiddleworkshop.co.uk


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