Daniel Thorpe, the 2010 BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year, was born and brought up in the North East of Scotland and has been involved with music since a very young age, participating in many different musical groups including the Garioch Fiddlers Strathspey and Reel Society and the National Children’s Orchestra of Scotland. Daniel has been playing the fiddle since the age of seven and at the age of 16 won a place at the National Centre of Excellence for Traditional Music based in Plockton, Ross-shire where the main emphasis was on performance, arrangement and musical collaboration through daily group work sessions. The highlight of Daniel’s time at Plockton, was his involvement with Donald Shaw’s Harvest project that brought together 80 young musicians with a host of professional artists from around Europe. The project was used as the opening event for Celtic Connections in 2004.

After finishing his school education, Daniel proceeded to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) where he gained a BA Hons in Scottish Music. While studying at the RSAMD Daniel was involved in a number of projects including touring in Denmark and Germany and a collaboration project between several ‘folk’ courses from Denmark, Ireland and England, culminating in several performances at Tonder Festival in Denmark, the Sage Gateshead and Celtic Connections in Glasgow. During his third year, Daniel took part in an exchange programme with Cape Breton University where he studied for 4 months. During this time, he intensively studied the Cape Breton fiddle style and also performed with many well-respected professionals including Ashley MacIsaac. In fourth year, Daniel travelled the USA where he performed at the St Louis Highland Games as well as at one of the original American folk clubs in St Louis.

Daniel has been participating in the Aberdeen International Youth Festival’s (AIYF) since 2000 as part of their new traditional music summer school – ‘Splore’. During this time, he gained experience of working with other contemporary musicians from all over Scotland and the World, as well as many professional musicians and composers including Corinna Hewat, Aidan O’Rourke, Mairi Campbell and Matty Foulds. This initiative has developed over the years moving from simple arrangement and group work, to a collaborative project with North East storytellers and innovative compositions from leading professionals. More recently, Splore has developed into a ‘big-band’ project, based on the Unusual Suspects group. Over the last two years, the band has performed during the festival at the Music Hall in Aberdeen and the Woodend Barn in Banchory as well as at the Traditional Music Awards in Fort William in December 2006 and Celtic Connections in Glasgow in 2008. This summer, Daniel has been selected to represent the AIYF at the International Festival for Emerging Artists. This festival is bringing together 60 performers from the UK and throughout the world to develop collaboration across artistic genres. The festival will initially run for two weeks with a view to creating lasting partnerships between individuals and their host festivals as well as creating a programme for events in East London in 2012 and 2020.

Professionally, Daniel enjoys great success with a variety of bands regularly performing ceilidhs, concerts, recitals etc. His own ceilidh band ‘Heuch’ are becoming known in the North East of Scotland and regularly perform throughout the year. He has performed at many venues throughout the UK and Europe including Aviles in Northern Spain and the Mull of Kintyre Festival. He has also worked with a North East Scottish Country Dance group performing at festivals in Romania and France. Daniel has also performed at many festivals worldwide including Celtic Colours in Cape Breton. In 2007, Daniel was a finalist in the prestigious Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship held in Blair Castle. Daniel has performed professionally at many high profile venues and events including the Speaker’s House in London, Holyrood Palace for the Princes Trust, and Stirling Castle for the Scottish Commonwealth Games medallists. He has performed in various venues for the Scottish Executive, including a Visit Scotland business promotion event in Toronto, Canada. Daniel also performs with Danny Kyle winners ‘Tyskie’, whose experimental approach to their music focuses on fusing together traditional and contemporary Scottish music with twisted harmonies and driving rhythms and have performed as part of Celtic Connection’s education programme and at Europafest in Bleibourg Austria. Daniel also released his debut album, ‘The Curiosity Shop’ in January 2011. More recently, he has been touring the Uk, Europe and Denmark with 2011 MG Alba Folk Band of the Year ‘Malinky’.

As well as performing, Daniel is heavily involved with teaching through the RSAMD’s Youthworks initiative, where he has taught fiddle to primary age pupils both in Ayrshire and Stirling as well as classical violin in Armadale and Livingston. Daniel has also been a fiddle tutor at the Glasgow Fiddle Workshop for the past 3 years and has taught pupils of all ages from children to adults. Daniel is experienced at teaching both individual and group classes and has also taught group work and arrangement both in mainstream education at Gordon Primary in Huntly and with the Feisan movement in Elgin. Recently, Daniel was involved in a very exciting project in St Louis, Missouri led by Brian McNeill. He taught Scottish Music to string groups who had little previous experience of the genre. Daniel led classes of between 20 and 60 pupils in orchestral type arrangements of traditional music with an emphasis on arrangement and performance skills. The highlight was a public performance involving 160 string players from the various schools playing a varied programme of purely traditional music. Daniel conducted the various groups during this performance. This project was a great success and plans are in motion to repeat and extend the project in the coming year.

He has also been involved with Keig Primary School, to create a weeklong school feis which has enjoyed great success and is in its 4th Year. Daniel’s role as organiser brought together many of his skills, including tutor co-ordination, teacher (both instrumental and arrangement), performer and leader. The week provides Traditional Scottish Music education through delivery of group instrumental lessons, singing classes, drumming classes and groupwork. During the week, fiddle, whistle, guitar, keyboard, singing and drumming electives were taught as well as the upper stages devising and performing music to a play about the legend of the pictish Maidenstone. The weeks work culminates in a performance featuring each class and allowing every child several opportunities to perform. The weeks have been very well received by the schools’ pupils, staff and especially by the parents. The music weeks have been such a great success that Keithhall Primary School has also started running the project.

Daniel also has a keen interest in sound engineering both in live and studio situations. Since studying at Plockton, where he was involved in producing the yearly albums and frequently doing sound for live concerts, Daniel has gone on to do sound for a small festival on the Scottish Island of Gigha as well as being involved in some location recording projects including the recording of several professional musicians for a PhD project involving graphic scores. As part of his degree course, Daniel completed a module in Recording and Producing where he gained lots of knowledge and experience of using Pro Tools recording software as well as working with a variety of musicians in a studio environment.

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