Royal Conservatoire of Scotland fiddler wins BBC Radio Scotland Trad awards

Published: February 6, 2017


Royal Conservatoire of Scotland fiddler has been named BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the year.

Charlie Stewart from Glenfarg in Perthshire, 21, was the unanimous choice of the judges at the event at Glasgow City Halls on Sunday 5 February 2017.

He was praised for a “moving and spirited” performance which set him apart from five fellow finalists.

He said he first picked up the fiddle as a nine-year-old, after hearing his godfather perform.

He told BBC Radio Scotland: “My godfather is a great musician and he plays mandolin and fiddle a bit.

“I remember him playing in the house and thought it was amazing. I was maybe three or four.

“I didn’t start playing till years after but I really liked the fiddle from then on.”

He said he was “amazed and so pleased” to scoop the prestigious award, which is part of the Celtic Connections festival.

Mr Stewart also plays with two bands – Dosca and Levack, Stewart, Irving – and he has performed all over Europe.

In 2016, he reached the semi-finals of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards, playing with harpist Becky Hill.

Now he has been named the young traditional musician of the year, he wins a recording session with the BBC and a year-long membership of the Musicians Union.

Jeff Zycinski, head of radio at BBC Scotland, said: “Charlie is exactly the type of performer we wanted to shine the spotlight on when we launched the search for this year’s winner. His stunning performance was both moving and spirited and really captivated the audience.

“Every year, the judging process becomes more difficult with musicians of such a high calibre coming through the ranks. Our six finalists were magnificent, each one stamping their set with true individuality and flair.

“It was an extremely difficult choice, but Charlie stood out on the night. He will really help to inspire and encourage the next generation of young artists to keep traditional music alive.”

Previous winners have used their victory as a springboard to a professional career in music. They include last year’s winner, concertina virtuoso Mohsen Amini, and singer Robyn Stapleton, who won in 2014.

The other finalists this year were piper Dougie McCance, from Erskine; Ella Munro, a singer from Skye; accordion player Grant McFarlane, from Paisley; Huntly-based singer Iona Fyfe; and Kim Carnie, a Gaelic singer who is originally from Oban.

Study Traditional Music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, the UK’s only BMus degree dedicated to folk & traditional music.