Guitarist is in tune to pick up key music prize

A TEENAGER from Edinburgh who has performed for the Dalai Lama has become the first Scot to scoop a prestigious guitar award.

Classical guitarist Sean Shibe, 17, was also the youngest ever winner of this year's Ivor Mairants Guitar Award.

Previous winners of the internationally renowned competition have included the Chinese virtuoso Xuefei Yang.

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As a result of winning the award, Sean, who is originally from Southside but now lives in Glasgow, has also become a Yeoman of the City of London Livery Company, part of which involves performing at private schools in London.

Sean, who is studying music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) in Glasgow, said: "It was a surprise when I found out I had won. I had never won a major competition like this before. Coming first is a massive step up and it gives you a light feeling in your heart."

Edinburgh-born Sean, whose mum Junko is originally from Japan, has been playing guitar for a decade and is a former pupil of the City of Edinburgh Music School.

He accepted a scholarship to the RSAMD last year, and became the youngest ever musician to enter the academy.

Earlier this month, Sean spent a week representing the RSAMD in China, performing in the Sichuan Conservatory Concert Hall in Chengdu – the biggest venue in Sichuan Province.

He found out he had won the award last month and will receive a 1,500 Manuel Rodriguez guitar.

The competition in London was organised by the Worshipful Company of Musicians.

He said: "You can never tell what is going to happen in competitions, there are so many factors that come into it. You can never go into a competition or come out thinking that you have won because you are just asking for disappointment. You can never predict anything."

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The teenager performed a variety of music across three rounds and competed against ten other guitarists in the competition.

He also maintains a busy performance schedule alongside his studies at the academy.

He has performed in master classes with a number of inspirational classical guitarists, and was selected in August to perform at the West Dean International Guitar Festival in West Sussex with Cuban maestro Leo Brouwer.

Last year at the Edinburgh Fringe, he collaborated with the esteemed Icelandic composer Haflidi Hallgrimsson on the reworking of his piece, Jacob's Ladder.

Sean also played the cello for the Dalai Lama at the Usher Hall in 2005, as part of a group from the City of Edinburgh Music School.

He hopes to establish a reputation as a professional concert soloist.

He performed at the Philips Hall in Eindhoven on Sunday, and will also perform two other concerts in Holland in April 2010.

When asked how it feels to be the only Scot to have won the Ivor Mairants Guitar Award, he said: "You just do these things and anything else that comes with them, just comes with them. I don't think about it."