James Mackenzie

ARTFORMS: Music , Piper


Unfortunately for all the other young budding pipers on the Isle of Lewis, James Mackenzie has won the ‘Best Local Piper in Lewis’ accolade since 1998 and has been the ‘Young Piper of the Year’ in his age group for the last five years.

Seventeen-year-old James is the current and last year’s Scottish Junior Piping Champion. As part of his prize last year he went to the USA for two weeks’ piping tuition. Not only is James a piper of exceptional talent, who has been winning championships since he started piping at the age of 8, but he’s also a very talented classical flautist.

James is one of those talents that stand out from the crowd. His solo performances in piping have equalled the high standard of the world’s finest pipers. Music comes easily to James, and he is also a talented composer. This year he will go to Benbecula to study traditional music and thereafter to RSAMD in Glasgow to study for a music degree.

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Award enabled James to buy a set of small pipes and a wooden flute.

Since the Award

The impact on James's musical development of having these new instruments has been immense. He writes that "when my new instruments arrived and I started to play them I found new expression and freedom".  James is now studying for a degree in Scottish Traditional Music at RSAMD and was a finalist in the BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year.

I walk from my Halls of Residence to the RSAMD via Buchanan Street every morning and evening. I pass the statue of Donald Dewar and never fail to acknowledge to myself the contribution the “Dewar” has made to my music career. I hope as my studies progress the best is yet to come.