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Over the past 22 years the Currie Balerno Rotary Club has organised local competitions as part of the annual Rotary Young Musician Competition and in that time we have hosted vocalists and instrumentalists from ten schools in our immediate area and beyond – from Currie, Balerno, Wester Hailes and Firrhill but also schools from West Lothian - notably Broxburn and Livingston. In the past 22 years we have provided the platform to enable 239 local musicians – vocalists and instrumentalists – to demonstrate their skills to an audience. The total number of individual performances hosted by Currie Balerno Rotary Club within Rotary District 1020 exceeds 700.
Every local competition since 1998 has been held within Heriot Watt University. Our first local competition was in 1998, organised by Rotarians Jim Goodbrand and John Wilson. In 2000 Ralph Allardyce and Alan Young undertook the organisation and have stayed with it ever since, being joined by Ian Campbell in 2016.
The annual competition has been a partnership with Heriot Watt University from the start as the University saw this as a valuable contribution to the local community, to the development of young people and as a partnership with Rotary. The University’s contribution was enhanced, however, by the arrival in 1999 of Dr Steve King as Director of Music. Steve did more than simply support the Rotary Young Musician competition; he took a very active organisational role by arranging the availability of venues within the University for all stages of the competition – local Club competitions, Area competitions from 2004 to 2019, District competitions from 2013 to 2018, Regional competitions(Scotland and the North of England) in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2017 and the UK National Final in 2018 – the first time this had been held in Scotland.
Steve has also adjudicated at these competitions and persuaded expert contacts to join him as required. For his contribution to the Rotary Young Musician Competition, Steve was made a Paul Harris Fellow – the highest award Rotary can give.
The Club is proud of the success achieved by young musicians who competed in the local Club events. Many went on to study at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. One, Connor Smith, was a winner at every stage of the Rotary Young Musician competition to become vocalist of the year in 2013 and has gone on to a successful musical career. Another, Hannah Rarity, who is also enjoying deserved success, won the title BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year in 2018. Both Hannah and Connor were pupils at Broxburn Academy and were tutored there by music teacher Lorna Lattimore. Lorna has supported the Currie Balerno Young Musician competition over many years and in recognition of this support Lorna was made a Paul Harris Fellow in 2013.