RCS musicians honoured at MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards

RCS musicians honoured at MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards

Published: 08/12/2021

It was a night of big wins for top trad talent from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in an awards ceremony that celebrated the nation’s finest traditional musicians.

BMus second year Vocal Studies student Ellie Beaton and Traditional Music graduate/former students Iona Fyfe, The Canny Band, Craig Muirhead and Norrie ‘Tago’ MacIver were honoured at the annual MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards in Glasgow on December 4, which recognise excellence within Scotland’s thriving traditional musical culture. Winners are chosen by the public, with this year seeing a record 180,000 votes.

Ellie, a mezzo-soprano, took home the Citty Finlayson Scots Singer of the Year award.

“I am so grateful for all the support from the RCS over the past year,” said Ellie. “I’m so thankful that I have the guidance of my teacher, Helen Lawson, who has given me so much confidence and support since I began studying last year.

“This year has been amazing for me, from becoming a finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year to then winning the Scots Singer of the Year award. I totally wasn’t expecting to win this award as there were so many other talented musicians in my category.”

Iona Fyfe was named Musician of the Year while Norrie ‘Tago’ MacIver won the Online Performance of 2021 Award. Up and Coming Artist of the Year was won by trio The Canny Band – Michael Biggins, Sam Mabbett and Callum Convoy.

The Music Tutor of the Year Award was presented to Craig Muirhead, Director of Piping and Drumming at Strathallan School.

Professor Joshua Dickson, Head of Traditional Music at RCS, said: “Congratulations to all those recognised for excellence in traditional music at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Awards 2021 – a fantastic line-up that showcased courageous artistry, innovation and respect for heritage in equal measure.

“RCS’s graduates are engaging with the world in many different ways: from The Canny Band’s eclectic melting pot of virtuoso musicians to Iona Fyfe’s advocacy and Craig Muirhead’s dedication to teaching; from longstanding alumni like Norrie MacIver to current students like Ellie Beaton. Here’s to them and many others for making the world a better place through the power of traditional music.”

The awards’ organising body, Hands Up for Trad, was formed in 2002 and exists to increase the profile and visibility of Scottish traditional music through information, advocacy and education to artists, participants and audiences.

Watch the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards on Friday 10th and Tuesday 28th December on BBC ALBA


MG ALBA Scots Trad Awards winners & nominees

(Names in bold signify staff, students, graduates and former students of RCS)

Original Work of the Year sponsored by PRS for Music
WINNER: 7 Years Old – Calum MacPhail
Fatma’s Waltz – Adam Sutherland
Dùsgadh – Breabach
The Driftwood Project – Jack Badcock
Wild Edges – Inge Thomson

Community Project of the Year sponsored by Greentrax Recordings
WINNER: Riddell Fiddles’ Two Towns Housing Estate Youth Musical Outreach Programme
Cabraich Community Arts, Stornoway: Online Skills and Ceilidh
Dee and Don Ceilidh Collective’s ‘Our Rivers and Glens’ project
Stonehaven Folk Club Folk in Crisis Concerts

Event of the Year sponsored by VisitScotland
WINNER: Celtic Connections
Capers in Cannich
Eden Court Under Canvas
In The Tradition – Edinburgh International Festival Traditional Music Programme 2021
NAAFC Festival

Gaelic Singer of the Year sponsored by The Highland Society of London
WINNER: Kim Carnie
Iain ‘Costello’ Maciver
Mairi Macmillan
Ainslie Hamill

Musician of the Year sponsored by The University of the Highlands and Islands
WINNER: Iona Fyfe (below)
Ali Levack
Findlay Napier
Ingrid Henderson
Mhairi Hall

Graduate Iona Fyfe with her Musician of the Year Award at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards


Online Performance of 2021 sponsored by Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust
WINNER: Norrie ‘Tago’ MacIver – Live Streams
Alec Dalglish – live streams
An Tobar – summer sessions
Làn-Dùil – online festival
Ron Jappy – Vincular album launch


Citty Finlayson Scots Singer of the Year sponsored by Traditional Music and Song Association
WINNER: Ellie Beaton (below)
Beth Malcolm
Calum McIlroy
Cameron Nixon

Student Ellie Beaton holding her award for Scots Singer of the Year at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Awards 2021


Trad Video of the Year sponsored by Threads of Sound
WINNER: Doddie’s Dream – Bruce MacGregor
Adahs Way – Ali Levack
Summer – Lewis McLaughlin
Mairead nan Cuiread – Mhairi Macmillan
Pretty Girl – Lapwyng (Valtos Remix)

Trad Music in the Media sponsored by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig
WINNER: Ceòl is Cràdh’ (BBC ALBA)
Tartan Tunes
Taynuilt Ceilidh’s
The 22nd Annual Pipes of Christmas – 2020 / The Clan Currie Society / The Learned Kindred of Currie

Up and Coming Artist of the Year sponsored by Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
WINNER: The Canny Band (below)
Arthur Coates
John Dew

The Canny Band with their award at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Awards


Music Tutor of the Year Award sponsored by Creative Scotland’s Youth Music Initiative
WINNER: Craig Muirhead, Director of Piping and Drumming at Strathallan School (below)
Imogen Bose Ward, Fiddle
Isla Ratcliff, Scots Music Group
Michael Bryan, Guitar

Graduate Craig Muirhead with his MG ALBA Scots Trad Award


Album of the Year sponsored by Birnam CD
WINNER: Where the World Is Thin – Kris Drever
And Den Dey Made Tae – Ross & Ryan Couper
Cairdeas – Brian Ó hEadhra & Fionnag NicChonnich
Gaol – Rachel Walker
Livewire – Mec Lir
MAIM – Whyte
Milestone – Duncan Lyall
Orkney Monster – The Chair
Still Time – Karen Matheson
The Light of The Moon – Gnoss


Images @ Chris Watt Photography



Interested in studying traditional music at RCS?

The Traditional Music programme at RCS is the UK’s only Bachelor of Music degree dedicated to traditional and folk music.

Students explore Scotland’s unique and dynamic musical traditions as a conceptual, critical and creative framework within which to achieve a distinctively personal voice as an artist. This is interwoven with a solid basis in contemporary and eclectic performance practice.

Find out more and apply.


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