Hamish Napier is originally from Strathspey in the Scottish Highlands. For over a decade he has been an integral part of Glasgow’s vibrant folk music scene, whilst also touring in Europe and North America with Scottish folk quartet Back of the Moon(‘Folk Band of the Year 2005’ MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards). Gaining degrees in Astronomy and Music when he first moved from his native Highlands to the city of Glasgow, Hamish was then awarded a year’s scholarship to study jazz piano and composition at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA. Hamish now teaches composition and music theory at Glasgow’s Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and at music schools and festivals worldwide. He has recently returned to his native Strathspey, composing two solo albums The River(2016) and The Railway(2018) in celebration his homeland.
Tradition & Innovation
Napier’s music is a unique balance of tradition and innovation. He respects and celebrates Scotland’s rich musical heritage in a contemporary style that is engaging and soulful. As a founding member of the Cask Strength Ceilidh Band(annual house band for the BBC Radio Scotland Hogmanay Show), he is passionate about Scottish folk tunes and their roots in traditional folk dance. Hamish is also a fine Scottish Step Dancer, having delivered dance workshops at festivals around the UK and North America. With a deep understanding of Scottish music at it’s heart, Hamish’s compositional approach and piano accompaniments continue to push the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic boundaries, as they explore possibilities of musical hybrids with other forms and genres.
One of Scotland’s finest traditional wooden flute players, he is known for his rich tone, expressive variations and pioneering approach. Hamish’s annual flute course at the Sabhal Mor Ostaig college on the Isle of Skye continues to be very popular. Hamish has taught flute at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Traditional Music degree course for several years.
As a folk singer, he has recorded vocals with leading Scottish singers Mairi MacInnes, Karen Matheson, Margaret Bennett, Emily Smith and James Graham. Hamish is a very versatile vocalist and has an extensive repertoire than ranges from traditional Scots songs to country, soul, pop, blues and jazz styles.
Hamish’s distinctive piano accompaniment style is rhythmic, edgy and passionate, coloured with jazz harmonies and expressive dynamics ranging from sensitive spacious moments to highly spirited peaks.
He is also well known as a gifted tunesmith and has been performed live and recorded by top artists such as Blazin’ Fiddles, Imar, Talisk, Simon Thoumire & Iain Carr, Còig and Inveraray & District Pipe Band. Hamish’s New Voices commission The River for the Celtic Connections festival received 4 and 5-star reviews in four national publications. The piece was released as a highly-regarded debut solo album and named Album of the Week on four BBC folk radio shows in Scotland, Shetland, Lancashire and Ulster.
He is part of the dare-devil duo Nae Plans with fiddler Adam Sutherland. Nae Plans have a unique live performance style, showcasing completely unplanned, spontaneous off-the-cuff musicianship. Hamish also currently performs with Duncan Chisholm’s ‘Gathering’, Jarlath Henderson Band and Ross Ainslie & The Sanctuary Band.
Hamish is also becoming increasingly recognised as a producer and co-arranger and has helped shape several celebrated albums over the past few years. He coproduced Gaelic singer Mairi MacInnes’ acclaimed 2014 album Gras. Hamish also co-wrote many tunes with Duncan Chisholm for Chisholm’s most recent album Sandwood. He worked as a co- arranger for Ross Ainslie’s Sanctuary, Jarlath Henderson’s Hearts Broken, Heads Turned, Adam Sutherland’s Some Other Land and Gary Innes’ ERA. Hamish has recorded on over forty folk music albums to date, with leading Scottish musicians such as Donald Shaw, Mike Vass, Karen Matheson, Martyn Bennett, Treacherous Orchestra and Eddi Reader.
Over the last decade Hamish has been shortlisted for over twelve MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards, including Composer of the Year, Album of the Year and Tutor of the Year. He was recently nominated for ‘Community Music Composer of the Year’ in the Hands Up for Trad Community Music Awards.