Six year-old’s inspiration leads to dream career

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From childhood audience member to talented young musician - a meeting of two LMNS clasarch players.

When Aimée Clark was six years old, her mum took her to see a concert at the Glasgow music festival, Celtic Connections. It was a performance by the Scottish harpist and Live Music Now alumna, Jennifer Port, and Aimée was mesmerised. Jennifer was playing a traditional Scottish clarsach that day in January 2000, which Aimée had never seen or heard before. She was also impressed to hear that Jennifer had performed for Madonna and Guy Ritchie just a few weeks earlier when they tied the knot at Skibo Castle in the Highlands. Aimée loved the music and when the concert was over, turned to her mum and told her, “I’m going to do that one day.” She asked if Santa could bring her a harp for Christmas, and the following year, he did.

Inspired by seeing this live performance, Aimée auditioned for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland the following year and was accepted, aged eight. She went on to study harp and clarsach for over a decade as a junior student and joined the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland when she was 11 years old.

Fast forward a few years, to when Aimée was a sixth form student at the Glasgow Gaelic School. She had emerged as an extremely talented young musician and had enjoyed several prestigious opportunities, including being selected to play for HRH Prince Charles and performing in the former home of Tchaikovsky and the Moscow Palace in association with the Spiritov Foundation. Aimée was also awarded the Hugh S. Roberton Memorial Trophy for the most accomplished musician under 14 years at the Glasgow Music Festival in 2010, a competition that attracts nearly 7,000 performers.

In her teens, the young virtuoso was supported by music charity, Awards for Young Musicians (AYM), which helps ensure talented young instrumentalists throughout the UK are given the help they need. AYM offered Aimée the opportunity to take part in Pathways, a mentoring and performance programme devised in partnership with Live Music Now Scotland. In order to help Aimée develop her musical practice and get the most from her mentorship, Live Music Now Scotland asked whether Aimée would prefer to focus on classical or traditional Scottish repertoire. Aimée was training in both styles, but chose traditional Scottish, partly because the slightly smaller clarsach would be easier for her to transport than the larger harp.

And so it was that Live Music Now Scotland decided that they would match Aimée up with professional mentor and LMNS alumnus Jennifer Port, the musician who had inspired her to begin studying music as a young child. Aimée worked with Jennifer at The Gatehouse, a day centre for older people with dementia in Glasgow’s Anniesland, and Applecross Nursing Home for frail elderly people.

In November 2019, Aimée auditioned for Live Music Now Scotland with her musical partner, flautist Christopher Michie. The panel of judges were immediately impressed and accepted the Clark-Michie Duo onto the roster. Sadly the Covid-19 pandemic meant that the duo’s first professional performances on behalf of Live Music Now Scotland had to be cancelled, but they were the first performers to record a Together at Home concert for audiences to enjoy online instead. Filmed in Aimée’s mum’s house in Glasgow, the concert was shared on YouTube in March. The duo have also recorded concerts to be shared with Craigmarloch Special School in Port Glasgow, for pupils with complex additional support needs, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and/or learning disabilities. In August last year, as the restrictions were partially lifted, they were able to perform an outdoor concert in the grounds of Abbeyfield Extra Care Home in Rutherglen.

Find out more about Aimée Clark and the Clark-Michie Duo at:
instagram.com/aclark_harp/ and facebook.com/ClarkMichieDuo/

Read more about LMNS: Together at Home at edinburghmusicreview.com

As a musician who gave hundreds of performances during her time with Live Music Now Scotland, Jennifer Port went on to become a Trustee of the charity as a member of the Board and now shares her experience, expertise and knowledge with the next generation of musicians through leading Live Music Now training sessions.

Jennifer Port plays clarsach (Scottish Celtic harp) at the National Museum of Scotland in August 2010 as part of Live Music Now Scotland’s Free Fringe Music series:

Find out more at jenniferport.co.uk

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