Two former music students who are now performing on the international stage have secured a coveted slot at HebCelt Festival this summer.
Jamie MacDonald and Christian Gamauf will join the likes of KT Tunstall, Tide Lines and The Shires in the HebCelt line-up after winning a competition for young talent organised by the festival and Lews Castle College UHI, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands.
The competition was open to any performer or band which included members who are studying, or who have studied, on one of the college’s music programmes.
Fiddler Jamie, from Tiree, and piper Christian, from Loipersbach in rural Austria, are BA Applied Music degree graduates. They met six years ago while studying in Benbecula and began playing together at local concerts.
Since then they have appeared at a number of high-profile events and last year released their debut album, ‘The Pipe Slang’, which was longlisted for Album of the Year at the Scots Trad Awards 2018.
They have just returned from New York, where they performed at Tartan Week. Other recent highlights include playing at Celtic Connections in February and at the Lorient Interceltic Festival, Europe’s biggest Celtic festival, in Brittany, last year.
Christian, who also spent time on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, won Glasgow University’s Commun Oiseanach Piping Competition in 2016 and draws on both the Hebridean and Cape Breton styles in his playing.
Jamie is also a member of folk band Eabhal, who were named Hands Up For Trad, Battle of the Folk Bands 2018 winners, and are also appearing at HebCelt.
Christian said: “We are really delighted to have won the competition and perform at HebCelt this year. It's a fantastic opportunity for us to come back to the Outer Hebrides and we are looking forward to representing Lews Castle College UHI and the BA Applied Music.
“We haven't been to HebCelt before, but we've heard lots of great things about it. Jamie is also playing with his other band Eabhal, and we can't wait to play at this festival in such amazing surroundings.”
HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan said: “Jamie and Christian were up against some very strong competition, but their musicianship shone through and they are very worthy winners.
“We are passionate about promoting young talent, particularly acts that have their roots in the islands, and we are very much looking forward to seeing them at the festival.”
Lews Castle College UHI is sponsoring the festival’s acoustic stage for the third year in succession to strengthen its cultural, artistic and educational ties with HebCelt.
Anna-Wendy Stevenson, programme leader, BA (Hons) applied music, at the college, said: ‘We are delighted that Lews Castle College UHI has been able to work with HebCelt to offer this fantastic opportunity for our students and graduates.
“There were many excellent applications which highlighted the quality of musicianship which has been developed at the college over the years.
“Jamie and Christian are graduates of the BA Applied Music degree and are busy performing on national and international stages. We look forward to them bringing it back home to the Hebrides where they began their musical journeys together.”