A PEEBLESSHIRE pianist has made history after becoming the first musician from the area to win a prestigious award in more than 20 years.

Michael Gemmell, of Peebles, showcased his talents at the regional final of the Rotary Young Musician of the Year last Sunday and was awarded first place in the instrumental category.

The last time a Peebles musician won the first place award and the McInally Trophy was more than 20 years ago.

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A spokesperson from Nomad Beat, which co-organised the area final of the competition held at the Eastgate Theatre last month, said: “Michael is totally committed to achieving his aim of becoming a professional musician, gaining a distinction in Grade 8 last year, and preparing to take his ARSM diploma in piano performance this summer, before doing auditions for music conservatoire entry next year.

“He is also an accomplished clarinettist and saxophonist.

“As a versatile young pianist, Michael is very active in the musical life of our community, working as a rehearsal pianist for Innerleithen Operatic Society in their current production of Shrek, accompanying the Eddleston Voices choir, and accompanying soloists in ABRSM exams.

“More recently, he became a student tutor at Nomad Beat Community Music School in Peebles.”

Peeblesshire News: Michael with his trophyMichael with his trophy (Image: Nomad Beat)

The regional final saw musicians from across the South of Scotland perform at Heriot-Watt University.

As well as Michael’s success, Selkirk vocalist Amber Gilmour impressed judges with her performances of two musical theatre songs, securing her a third place win in the vocal category.

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The spokesperson said: “Her ability to communicate the inner emotional landscape of her characters and her strong story-telling skills clearly engaged the audience and drew them in.

“Amber is taught by singing tutor Aishling Samson.”

They added: “Thanks are due to the rotary team for staging such a well-organised and successful event.

“Live performance opportunities are becoming fewer and further between, and competitions like these are invaluable in providing opportunities for flourishing young musicians to develop their craft within a public arena, bringing joy to so many, and bringing music to life.”

Peeblesshire News: Amber Gilmour performing at the Young Musician of the Year awardsAmber Gilmour performing at the Young Musician of the Year awards (Image: Nomad Beat)

The Scottish final of the Young Musician of the Year will take place on Sunday, March 26, at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.