Still in shock after being awarded this years Martyn Bennett Prize for traditional music composition. Put on by the Queens Hall, Edinburgh (with support from Creative Scotland and the Traditional Music Forum) it provided the opportunity for composers living in Scotland to write a new piece of music in the traditional idiom for a set group of musicians. MD’d by amazing violinist Seonaid Aitkin, the band also featured Graeme Stephen, Fraser Fifield, Colin Train, Andrew Sharkey and Laura Baxter. I’ve been listening to Fraser and Graeme play together for a long time; they were one of my first introductions to the Scottish traditional scene and demonstrated to me how you could push the boundaries of the style, so it really was a joy to write for them.
After an initial first round, the finalists were then selected for a concert that took place on the 14th October. It was a brilliant & really diverse line up of writers: Christopher Bradley, Stuart Macpherson, Aidan O’Rourke and Rob Taylor. Amazing stuff all round & I don’t envy the judges (Jim Sutherland, Sally Beamish and Hector Macinnes) having to decide. Aidan’s music has been an inspiration of mine for a while now, so it was a great feeling to have my piece performed alongside his. You can hear each of the works online now:
The competition provided me with a real impetus to create something. Writing music has been a bit of non-starter this year for me and when this opportunity arose I had to jump at the chance to pressure myself to work! This is one of the great aspects of the prize in providing an outlet for composers to present new pieces, furthering the repertoire of scottish traditional music, in honour of one of the most ground breaking scottish composers/musicians of recent times, Martyn Bennett. The whole experience has definitely given me encouragement to pursue some more substantial original projects, so I’m planning on using the award to help fund an album of my own in 2015. Thanks again to everyone involved!