Calum McIlroy: Winner of the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician

He learned about traditional music in his school ceilidh band, but now singer and mandolin player Calum McIlroy has been named Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician.

The BBC Radio Scotland contest is renowned as one of the biggest platforms for emerging talent in traditional music.

It has been a springboard for numerous Scottish traditional music exponents to international acclaim.

From Westhill in Aberdeenshire, Calum first learned about traditional music in his school ceilidh band. 

After leaving school he went on to play with the North East Folk Collective and took part in the Fèis Rois Ceilidh Trail in 2016/2017. 

After finishing his diploma in music in Aberdeen, he moved to Glasgow to study on the BMus Traditional Music Course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. 

As well as tutoring through various organisations Calum plays in his own trio as well as alongside many major names in the genre.

‘Winning this prestigious award is incredible. It means a lot to me,’ Calum said.

‘This competition has done so much to help foster and develop young talent within the Scottish traditional music sector and I’m proud to be in the company of all the amazing previous winners.’

This year’s winner joins a list which includes the 2023 winner pianist Amy Laurenson, as well as other past winners including fiddler Eryn Rae, pianist Michael Biggins, piper Ali Levack, fiddler Benedict Morris and singer Hannah Rarity.

Presenter Joy Dunlop said: ‘Calum is a truly worthy winner of this year’s BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician award – and we hope this is recognition which will lead to more success for him. 

‘All our finalists performed incredibly this year and they all deserve praise for their contribution to the traditional music scene in Scotland.’

Among the other finalists this year were deaf/hard of hearing singer and step dancer Evie Waddell, who  – in a first for the event – used British Sign Language in her performance.

Bagpipe player John Dew, fiddle player Matt Tighe, and singers Ruairidh Gray and Ella Munro, also featured. 

As winner of the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2024 award, Calum wins a recording session with BBC Scotland, an opportunity to perform at the Scots Trad Music Awards later in the year, plus a one-year membership to the Musicians Union.

All finalists get a one-year membership to the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland (TMSA) plus the opportunity to take part in the TMSA’s annual Young Trad Tour.

Organised by BBC Radio Scotland, the Young Traditional Musician competition has been increasing the profile of Scottish traditional music and recognising rising talent in the genre since 2001.