Scotch whisky recording celebrates emerging talent

Some of the finest young and emerging talent in Scotland’s traditional music scene have been brought together.

They are part of a unique CD recording as part of a collaboration between the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the Scotch whisky organisation, The Keepers of the Quaich.

For the past seven years, The Keepers of the Quaich has supported a scholarship programme for outstanding students studying traditional music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, one of the world’s leading performing arts education institutions.

The annual scholarship enables students (both degree and postgraduate) to invest in further training, travel and other costs associated with their early and challenging careers.

In return, they have been invited to perform in front of distinguished international audiences at the whisky society’s official banquets at Blair Castle in Perthshire.

Now, their performances have been captured on album – available on Soundcloud – alongside the popular Scottish group Ceol Alba, which provides the regular entertainment at the society’s events. The Keepers of the Quaich scholars who appear on the CD include Christopher Gray (piano), Ainsley Hamill (voice), Mhairi Mackinnon (fiddle), Jocelyn Pettit (fiddle), Robyn Stapleton (voice) and Ryan Young (fiddle).

The Keepers of the Quaich is an international society that recognises those that have shown outstanding commitment to the Scotch whisky industry. Founded by the leading distillers, the society recognises achievement in those who work, write or evangelise about Scotch whisky by honouring them with the title Keeper of the Quaich.

Annabel Meikle, director of Keepers of the Quaich, said: ‘The banquets are the highlight of our year as we induct new members from all over the world into our society and celebrate their outstanding contribution to Scotch whisky.

‘The performances of these young, talented musicians have contributed immensely to the special atmosphere of the evening and we wanted to be able to capture that memory for our members and supporters in the future.’

Professor Joshua Dickson, head of the traditional music programme at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, believes the scholarship programme can make a significant difference to the students.

He said: ‘The backing has helped these artists and musicians to make a big impact. It has allowed them to perform for large international audiences in one of the most revered performances venues in the United Kingdom.

‘These experiences can be transformative and career-shaping. We cherish our partnership with Keepers of the Quaich and the opportunities it affords to some of Scotland’s most innovative musical voices.’