Awards for Artists
Image of Kate Young
Photo credit: Emile Holba

Kate Young

Kate Young (born 1987) is a Scottish composer, singer and fiddler based in Edinburgh. While she hails from a Scottish folk and traditional musical background, she currently works across different musical genres and styles from around the world.

Young’s interest in world music is continually inspired through her role as a mentor during annual Ethno summer camps, residential programmes for young people interested in playing folk, world, and traditional music. Her compositions are informed by an ever growing range of world traditions, from those of Eastern and Central Europe to North American fiddle playing and traditional Arabic singing styles.

Over the last five years she has developed her interests in British plant lore and folktales, learning directly from books and then weaving information into her songs and compositions as a means to perpetuate and empower traditions at high risk of being lost. In 2016 she completed a significant commission for Celtic Connections’s New Voices scheme to write a suite of pieces around the theme of the natural world. Her response – a complete repertoire of songs inspired by British medicinal plants, set to string quintet, with harp, double bass and percussion – was met with wide acclaim.

Young has worked in a variety of ensembles including Carthy, Hardy, Farrell and Young, Ethno in Transit, and collaborated with ten female folk musicians from Scotland and England in 2015 for Songs of Separation, a recording which reflects on the issue of separation in its many forms in traditional song.

It is hard to put into words to what extent the Paul Hamlyn Award means to me and the future of my work. I am extremely grateful and honoured to be both recognised and presented this prestigious award. It is timely as I can now finally make my second album after years of anticipation. It affords me the freedom and time to further explore string quintet and songwriting, allowing research and explorations to seep into my work. In a challenging time for artists who seek the support for creating their work, I have been granted an invaluable lifeline!

Examples of work

The Marigold Grove, 2015

Voice, fiddle, string quartet.

6 minutes 5 seconds duration (extract 1m 56s)

Commissioned by Celtic Connections, New Voices programme.

Borthwick, 2014

Voice, fiddle, string quartet.

6 minutes 1 second duration (extract 2m 04s)

Commissioned by Distil Showcase.

Recorded live from Umefolk festival, Sweden, 2016.

Here in This Spring, 2015

Voice, fiddle, string quartet, double bass, percussion, clarsach, spoken word.

7 minutes 22 seconds duration (extract 2m)

Commissioned by Distil Showcase.

Milk and Dew, 2015

Voice, fiddle, string quartet.

6 minutes 28 seconds (extract 1m 47s)

Commissioned by Celtic Connections, New Voices programme.