Young Scottish Traditional Musician of the Year
City Halls, Glasgow
Singer Robyn Stapleton added Stranraer to the list of home towns of Young Scottish Traditional Music of the Year title winners after a final that, chairman of the judges David Francis noted, saw the singer and the other five finalists separated by half the thickness of a cigarette paper.
Stapleton, a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, performed a well-chosen set and clearly revelled in the effect she created on the "no more, no more" chorus of her unaccompanied reading of MacCrimmon's Lament, one of the late Jeannie Robertson's big songs. She balanced this weighty work by delivering the pay-offs to a pair of light-hearted morality tales with good timing, and delivering Bonnie Blue-Eyed Nancy with warmth and sensitivity to Mhairi Hall's apposite piano accompaniment.
Personality plays a significant part in the choice of winner in this competition, now in its 14th year, and Stapleton's personable stage manner, allied to her winsome singing, will make her a credit to her newly-won title as she looks forward to a year that 2013 winner Paddy Callaghan confirmed can be life-changing.
Fiddler Neil Ewart impressed with his stylish playing in a pipe music-influenced style that also made good use of blue notes and slurs. Although he came across as endearingly matey, he might want to work on the content of his announcements.
The other four finalists - fiddler Mhairi Marwick, accordionist Ian Smith, singer and guitarist Jack Badcock, and Alistair Iain Paterson (on piano and harmonium) - all showed strengths that will make them assets to the Young Trad tour later this year.
This review appeared in later editions of yesterday's Herald.