Contemporary music stepped into the spotlight at the inaugural Scottish Awards for New Music held at Glasgow’s Drygate Brewery last night (8 March). Established by New Music Scotland, with financial support from Creative Scotland, the awards were conceived to celebrate the talents and achievements of Scotland’s composers, musicians and sound artists, many of whom were at the event.

Red Note Ensemble won the Help Musicians UK Award for New Music Performers of the Year while composer and curator Ailie Robertson took home the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) Award for Achievement in New Music. Other composers picking up awards included Helen Grime for the PRS Large Scale Work Two Eardley Pictures: Catterline in Winter and Snow, jointly commissioned by BBC SSO and the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland and premiered at the 2016 Proms; David Fennessy with his Hebrides Ensemble/Psappha commission Panopticon for string sextet and cimbalom which won the Dorico Award for Small/medium Scale Work while Hanna Tuulikki was presented with the Holiday Inn Award for Sound Art/Electroacoustic for her Indian-inspired audio-visual installation SOURCEMOUTH: LIQUIDBODY.

Cellist Robert Irvine’s recording in aid of Unicef on the Delphian label, Songs and Lullabies, won the EVM Award for Recorded New Work while Drake Music Scotland’s Wagner’s School of Cool won the RCS Award for Community/Education Project.  Presenting the award, Gordon McPherson, Head of Composition at the RCS, quipped that Scotland’s new musical talent usually had to travel to London to pick up awards for their work.

Alan Morrison, head of music at Creative Scotland, said that the Scottish Awards for New Music represent a significant step in recognizing the wealth of creative talent producing new music in Scotland. ‘These are the performers, composers and ensembles who are driving forward one of Scotland’s most exciting and experimental music sectors. Congratulations to tonight’s winners and also to the venues, festivals and record labels who bring their work to an increasingly eager public.’

Each of the winners received a ceramic singing bowl, featuring an individual sonic wave design, made by Elaine Henderson. The evening was hosted by the Scottish-based opera singer Andrea Baker and featured live music from Irvine, who played a track from his award-winning CD, and the performance artist MacGillivary, a nominee for New Music Performer of the Year Award.

There were over 180 nominations for the seven award categories submitted by artists, audience members and the general public.