Mohsen Amini named young traditional musician of 2016

Mohsen Amini. Picture: BBC
Mohsen Amini. Picture: BBC
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CONCERTINA virtuoso Mohsen Amini has been crowned BBC Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year.

The Glasgow musician, who began learning the instrument at the age of 10, edged out five other finalists at the annual awards concert at the Celtic Connections music festival.

The 22-year-old already performs with two bands based in the city - new outfit Imar and Talisk, who won a BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award for best newcomer last year. His prize includes a recording session with BBC Scotland and the chance to perform at high-profile events like the Scots Trad Music Awards.

He said: “It feels absolutely incredible to win. The award is seen as such a massive thing to win young musicians and I’ve seen how much it can do for the others that have won it.

“The standard of competition was so high and I’m really good friends with a lot of the musicians I was up against. It was such an up in the air thing as to who was going to win. We were all backstage biting our nails.”

The contenders were drawn from a 12-strong shortlist who took part in a residential weekend at Wiston Lodge, in Lanarkshire, in October. Each of the six finalists was given just 15 minutes to impress the panel of expert judges at the event, which was broadcast live on Radio Scotland.

Jeff Zycinski, head of radio at BBC Scotland, said: “Our six finalists were magnificent. Each one of them brought an individuality and flair to their performance that both impressed and entertained.

“Mohsen encapsulates exactly the kind of performer we set out to find when BBC Radio Scotland launched the search for this year’s Young Traditional Musician Of The Year.

“Performances like his and the others we saw tonight will encourage a new generation to keep these important traditions alive and to maximise their musical potential.”

The award, which was launched 15 years ago by the organisation Hands Up For Trad, is now regarded as a major springboard to becoming a professional musician in Scotland.

Last year’s winner, singer Claire Hastings, has performed alongside Lulu, Jamie Callum and Alexandra Burke at BBC events, and sung at the Scottish Parliament, since her triumph.

Stuart Cassells, founder of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, is among the previous winners, along with established names like Emily Smith, Gillian Frame and Ewan Robertson. Three other winners - Anna Massie, Kristan Harvey and Rua MacMillan - have all gone on to perform with one of Scotland’s most popular traditional outfits, Blazin’ Fiddles.

Simon Thoumire, creative director of Hands Up for Trad, said: “The BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year Award gives us an amazing snapshot of the strength of Scotland’s young trad musicians. The scene has never been in better shape.”

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