Skye piper reaches Young Trad finals

Malin Lewis is a piper, fiddler, whistle player and instrument maker from the Isle of Skye. © Martin Shields

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Skye piper Malin Lewis reached the finals of the BBC’s 2022 Young Traditional Musician of the Year awards, eventually won by fiddler Eryn Rae from Jedburgh.

Gaelic broadcaster Joy Dunlop from Connel, and Travelling Folk’s Bruce MacGregor, gave coverage to the finals, with six talented young musicians competing for the prestigious title, as part of this year’s Celtic Connections festival.

Malin, who is also a fiddler, whistle player and instrument maker, studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. As well as composing music, Malin also performs on a set of self-made two-octave Smallpipes.

They are also a member of Bogha Frois, an evolving and important project giving a voice to the LGBT+ community in the world of folk music. Last year Malin makes Music released their first book of original music and was a winner of the ‘In tune with Nature’ composing competition run by Scottish Natural Heritage and Feis Rois.

Malin told Hands Up For Trad, which organises the competition: ‘I started learning the bagpipes in school and was soon drawn to the allure of sessions and group playing. I fell quickly in love with the folk scene in Skye and began writing music from the moment I had a vague grasp of the instrument.

‘I always feel it is a privilege to have my music listened to. I also enjoy the intensity of practicing something to perfection. I did lots of piping competitions when I was younger and although I didn’t always love them, I enjoyed the process of preparing and valued the motivation and challenge that it provided.

‘I make my own pipes and intend to spend more time experimenting with this and inventing new pipes, and adapting the instrument to create unusual and unique sounds.’