Fiddler Charlie Stewart crowned BBC Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year

Perthshire fiddler Charlie Stewart has won one of the nation's most prestigious honours for up-and-coming musicians.

Charlie Stewart is the latest winner of the BBC Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year Award.
Charlie Stewart is the latest winner of the BBC Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year Award.

Perthshire fiddler Charlie Stewart has claimed one of the nation’s most prestigious honours for up-and-coming musicians.

The 21-year-old student, who is also a jazz double bassist, was crowned BBC Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year at the City Halls in Glasgow.

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Stewart, from Glenfarg, started playing the fiddle at the age of nine, reached the semi-finals of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards last year and currently plays with two Scottish folk bands, Dosca and Snuffbox, and in a duo with a piper, Ross Miller.

He edged out five other finalists - Glasgow piper Dougie McCance, singer Ella Munro, singer Ella Munro, from the Isle of Skye, Paisley accordionist Grant McFarlane, singer Iona Fyfe, from Huntly in Aberdeenshire, and Oban singer Kim Carnie.

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The ceremony, which was staged on the final night of the Celtic Connections music festival in Glasgow, was broadcast live on Radio Scotland, which organises the annual competition with promoters Hands Up For Trad.

Stewart, whose in studying jazz double bass at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, admitted he had a double life as a "secret folkie", playing in traditional music sessions in Glasgow, and performing in his various trad bands.

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Stewart, who admitted he was "shocked" to win the award, told The Scotsman: "I did the traditional music course at the Conservatoire for a year, but I decided to swap to do a jazz course as I fancied doing something a bit different. I'm still taking trad fiddle lessons - it's really nice that they allow you to do a mixture of things.

"I wouldn't really describe myself as a jazz musician, although I really like it. I listen to it more than I play it.

"Traditional music was always played in my house when I was growing up. My dad is a great bodhran player. I heard it a lot and when I went to a couple of gigs I really liked it and thought I'd give it a go myself.

"The whole process of the competition has actually been really relaxed. You're just hanging out with a bunch of really nice people who play music. It'll be really nice to go on tour with everyone later in the year.

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"I feel pretty shocked to have won. I don't really think it's sunk in yet.

Previous winners of the contest, which is now in its 17th year, include some of the leading musicians in the modern-day folk scene, such as Anna Massie, Gillian Frame, Catriona Watt, Shona Mooney, Claire Hastings, Robyn Stapleton and last year’s winner, Mohsen Amini, who performed before this year’s award was presented.

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Jeff Zycinski, head of radio at BBC Scotland, which offers the winner a free recording session, 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.

"Charlie will really help to inspire and encourage the next generation of young artists to keep traditional music alive.”