Hannah graduated from the Traditional Music department at RCS in 2016 and this year was crowned BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year. Since graduating Hannah has been continuing to perform across the country and this year will publish her first album. We caught up with her to find out how much her studies at RCS have impacted on her career so far.
Why did you choose to study at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland?
Within Scotland, and worldwide, the reputation of RCS as a prestigious arts institution is widely known. When it came to deciding where to study performance, and more specifically, Scottish Music, there was only one institution I had in mind. The quality of the tuition and the sheer number of opportunities afforded to students on the course, not only to perform, but travel, study and learn from some of the best in Traditional Music made RCS an easy choice. RCS is a hub of creativity and is such an exciting place to be. I found creating and working alongside students from other disciplines broadened my ideas of artistic possibilities.
How did your degree help you prepare for a career within the industry?
Having had little exposure to traditional music growing up, or prior professional performance experience, the Traditional Music course provided me with the majority of my knowledge I have taken into my professional career. Whilst at RCS I made many contacts, both professional and with fellow folk musicians. Many of the musicians I perform with today, I performed or connected with while on the course. As a traditional singer, repertoire is key and I was extremely lucky to have a wealth of Scots song shared with me by some of Scotland’s finest traditional singers, including Fiona Hunter, Rod Paterson, Gordeanna McCulloch and Alison McMorland. I was also able to study a Classical Voice module while on the course which provided me with the tools to look after my voice effectively. Other modules available on the course, such as songwriting, sparked an interest I have carried into professional life, and hope to continue to develop.
What have your career highlights been since graduation?
I feel very lucky to have begun my professional career while still studying at RCS, touring internationally with Irish-American band Cherish the Ladies, which I continued to after graduation, visiting some wonderful places including Japan and Alaska as part of one particular tour! Since graduation in 2016, I’ve also appeared as a soloist on BBC Scotland’s Hogmanay Live, featured in projects for the RSNO, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and BBC Northern Ireland TV and was delighted to be nominated Scots Singer of the Year at the 2017 MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards. This January, I was delighted to win the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award at the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow.
I have plans to record my debut album this year, to be released in autumn, and look forward to anything else 2018 may hold!