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Scotland in music

Review by Edward Scott Pearlman

Like the Oscars or the Grammies, the annual MG Alba Scottish Traditional Music Awards represent something more powerful than the glitz and pageantry of live TV, something more meaningful than winning and losing. These ceremonies embrace and promote a community of artists and the whole culture of traditional music in Scotland.

Behind this awards ceremony is a small organization called Hands Up for Trad, led by its creative director, concertina player Simon Thoumire, who has tirelessly supported the music, musicians and music industry of Scotland for the past 20 years. Hands Up for Trad manages more than 20 projects, with funding from Creative Scotland, a Scottish governmental organization promoting the arts. Captivated by tradition and tuned into technology, Thoumire seems to work nonstop managing projects and dreaming up new ones, and yet he still finds time twice a week to personally mentor musicians, helping them solve problems in their careers or musical projects.

The Scots Traditional Music Awards are held each year in early December in various locations throughout Scotland, and are broadcast live on television by BBC Alba. Since this is Scotlandís Gaelic television station, the awards are bilingual, and sometimes trilingual (English, Gaelic and Scots), accessible to everyone. The glamorous evening includes performances by a variety of musicians in addition to the much anticipated awards presentations.

At last December's event, awards were given for Album of the Year (All We Have Now by the Elephant Sessions), Scottish Pipe Band of the Year (Inveraray & District), Top Live Act (Skipinnish), Gaelic Singer of the Year (Robert Robertson) and Scottish Folk Band of the Year (Talisk). All nominees and winners were selected by the public in a process that tallied more than 100,000 votes from around the world.

The full text of this column is available in the Spring 2018 issue of Scottish Life.

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