Fiddler Shona takes top title

27th January 2006 at 00:00
Borders fiddler Shona Mooney became the sixth winner of the title BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician after a close-run final at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall last weekend.

The daughter of piper Gordon Mooney, Shona, 22, grew up in Lauder, playing fiddle and viola, and went to Newcastle to study folk and traditional music. As well as being a performer and composer, she has taught fiddle at the Selkirk Traditional Music Centre.

Shona has worked hard to make her local fiddle style popular again. The Borders Young Fiddles, of which she is a member, released its first album in 2004.

The Young Traditional Musician competition is held in conjunction with the Celtic Connections festival. It featured six finalists who had won through the semi-finals in October. Selection for the semi-finals was based on recordings of the applicants.

The competition is directed by Simon Thoumire of Hands Up for Trad, which also runs the annual Scots Trad Music Awards. It is open to musicians aged 16 to 25 who have been resident in Scotland for the past five years.

As in previous years, each finalist had a 15-minute slot and was allowed to make use of accompanists supplied by the organisers (an additional guest accompanist was also permitted). All six finalists achieved a high standard, giving the judges an unenviable task.

This was the closest of the competitions so far. Fiddler Kirsty Cotter, born in Suffolk but now resident in Glasgow, opened proceedings with sensitive performances of tunes from an 18th century Scottish repertoire.

She was followed by the most experienced of the finalists, Hamish Napier, of Grantown-on-Spey, who played flute, whistle and piano and sang.

Fraser Shaw, from Islay, played confidently on both Borders pipes and whistle. Accordionist Christopher Keatinge, from Melrose, the youngest competitor at 18, produced a remarkable interpretation of a single tune in a virtuoso and harmonically daring account of Kinmont Willie. Darren MacLean, from Dunvegan, who was also a finalist last year, sang a selection of Gaelic love songs and a set of puirt a beul (mouth music).

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