Mar 022013

Haddington Pipe Band LogoHaddington Pipe Band has today (28 February) been announced as a winner – one of just 19 throughout the UK – of a BBC Performing Arts Fund grant. The award, made under the Fund’s Music Fellowship scheme, is given to musical organisations to partner with up-and-coming musicians and will enable the band to work for one year with one of the country’s leading young composers, Ailie Robertson.

Announcing the awards, the BBC Performing Arts Fund stated that this year’s successful organisations

were able to demonstrate that a Fellowship placement with them would offer significant professional development opportunities for a Fellow.

Over the next year, Ailie Robertson will spend time on a regular basis with Haddington Pipe Band, both to build up her own expertise and to work on compositions with the band. The range of outcomes of the project will include an ‘end-of-year’ performance by the band of a work specially composed for them by Ailie.

Originally from Edinburgh, Ailie Robertson is a composer, arranger, improviser and multi-instrumentalist, and after seven years working as a professional touring musician, is currently studying for a postgraduate degree in composition at King’s College London. In 2011 she was nominated as Composer of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards; in 2010 she was commissioned by Creative Scotland to write a suite of music, Traditional Spirits (premiered at Glenkinchie Distillery), which was described by one critic as “seamlessly blending traditional, classical and jazz influences to create an exquisitely moving little masterpiece”; while her debut album won a Live Ireland award in 2009.

She has composed for a diverse range of projects, in a variety of styles, but working with a pipe band will be a new experience for her – one which she sees as opening the way for her to broaden her knowledge in this field.

She commented:

I am absolutely delighted to have this opportunity to work with Haddington Pipe Band. I look forward to developing our relationship over the coming year, and am excited to start working with, and composing for, them.

The Fellowship will be a valuable opportunity for the band to stretch their abilities and create a new repertoire, and will allow me to develop my own skills as a composer in a totally new field.

Haddington Pipe Band is a non-competing, community band which was the winner of the Pipe Band of the Year title at the Scots Trad Music Awards in 2009. It also set up and runs the annual Trad on the Tyne festival in the town. Its chairman, Alastair Bruce, said:

This is a wonderful opportunity for the band to share a creative partnership with one of Scotland’s top young composers. We are thrilled to have been awarded this very prestigious grant, and working closely with Ailie Robertson over the coming months will be a real delight for us.

We very much appreciate the privilege of being able to build this creative partnership with her, and as well as Ailie learning about the challenges of composing for pipes and drums, we are very much looking forward to being given a real insight into the composing ‘process’ by working with her over our year together.

We are very grateful to the BBC Performing Arts Fund for giving us this opportunity.