Ellie Pirie Scholarship

A fund has been established in memory of Elizabeth Pirie LRAM ARCM ARCO, who was accompanist for the choir from 1956 until her death in 1988. The award consists of a Scholarship for a resident of the North-East of Scotland who is of Secondary school age or above. The recipient must have reached a standard of performing equivalent to that of at least Grade 7 Associated Board and must be receiving, or willing to accept, tuition from a teacher of appropriate standing. This is normally arranged through The North East Scotland Music School (NESMS).

2023-24 Freya Corry

Freya Corry 2023-24 Ellie Pirie Scholar

Freya Corry

Freya Corry left St Margaret’s School in the summer of 2023, having achieved distinction at grade 8 in musical theatre and more recently an A in Advanced Higher Music. She is currently studying a 5 year MA in French / Management and Business at the University of Glasgow University. With the support of the Ellie Pirie Scholarship, she is continuing to further her vocal abilities and technique through her monthly singing lessons at NESMS with Gillian Jack.

For the past five years Freya was a member of the St Margaret’s School Chamber Choir, featuring as a soloist many times. She is passionate about performing and sharing her love for classical singing with an audience and hopes to be able to grasp any opportunities to sing locally with NESMS or perform to the Bach Choir.

Freya feels very fortunate to have received scholarship lessons at NESMS for the past three years which has allowed her the opportunity to be tutored by Gillian Jack. Freya believes these lessons have improved her vocal skills greatly. She is honoured to have been awarded the Ellie Pirie Scholarship this year and also to receive her first full scholarship at NESMS with the support and sponsorship of Aberdeen Bach Choir.

Ellie Pirie Recital 26 March 2024

Freya was accompanied by Ben Marsden in a recital of songs with the choir as audience at the rehearsal on Tuesday 26th March 2024:

Ave Maria by Schubert

Poor Wand'ring One from Gilbert & Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance

Vilia Song from Lehár's The Merry Widow

The Gypsy Song from Bizet's Carmen

O Mio Babbino Caro by Puccini


Ben Marsden accompanies Freya Corry, 2023-4 Ellie Pirie Scholar

Facebook video


2020-2023 Eve Begg

Eve Begg 2020-21 Ellie Pirie Scholarship winner. Photo by Julian Maunder (Spud �n� Duck Photography)

Eve Begg

Our Ellie Pirie Scholar for the third year in a row was Eve Begg, who was now in her third year of a B.Mus. degree at the University of Aberdeen when she was awarded the 2022-23 Ellie Pirie Scholarship. Eve joined Aberdeen City Music School (ACMS) for her fifth and sixth years of school, having attended Oldmachar Academy prior to this transition. Our scholarship awards have enabled Eve to benefit from additional singing lessons through NESMS with her ACMS and Aberdeen University singing coach, Gillian Jack. The immediate benefit of our award during 2020-21 was Eve’s achievement of a Distinction in Grade 8 singing, with her achieving a very high score of 142 out of 150.

Our Scholarship comes with the opportunity to attend an Aberdeen Bach Choir rehearsal and perform a short recital, as a thank you to the choir. Unfortunately this was not possible in 2020-21 with choir rehearsals suspended but Eve provided a video recording for choir members to enjoy over Zoom in November 2020.

We were delighted that Eve accepted an invitation to join Aberdeen Bach Choir as the Soprano soloist for our concert “A Christmas Scene” in St. Machar’s Cathedral on Saturday 3rd December 2022. We hope this represents an exciting opportunity for her career development and we were delighted to be working with her and hearing her sing.

In April 2024, Eve won the Ogston Prize awarded by University of Aberdeen Music following a final contested by six singers and instrumentalists.

2019-20 Eilidh Bisset

Eilidh Bissett 2019-20 Ellie Pirie Scholarship winner

Eilidh Bisset

Eilidh was a sixth year pupil at St Margaret’s School for Girls, and ais thrilled to receive the Ellie Pirie scholarship for 2019-20. She had sung with the National Youth Choir of Scotland and the NYCOS Girls Choir, notably in Mahler’s 8th Symphony at the Edinburgh Festival in 2018. She planned on using the scholarship for lessons at NESMS over the winter to prepare for her auditions for vocal studies degrees. Eilidh was excited to continue her musical studies, and was grateful to Aberdeen Bach Choir for its support.

At the end of 2020, St Margaret's School issued the following announcement:

“Many congratulations to former pupil Eilidh Bisset, who has been offered an unconditional place at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. 

During her time at St Margaret’s Eilidh was a talented and enthusiastic member of the Music Department. From III Senior onwards she sang regularly with the National Youth Choir of Scotland, and performed major works with them in a number of prestigious venues. She was a Choral Scholar at Queen’s Cross Church and also held a full scholarship at the North East of Scotland Music School. We are delighted that she has now achieved her ambition of joining the RCS to study to be a professional singer – which has always been her stated goal. We wish Eilidh every success.”

2017-8 Mairi McKeown

Mairi McKeown 2017-18 Ellie Pirie Scholarship winner

Mairi McKeown

Once again, no singer was considered to be suiitable for the award, which went to pianist Mairi McKeown. Mairi gave a brief recital at the choir rehearsal on 20 November 2018.

Mairi is a senior pupil at Ellon Academy and delighted to have won the Ellie Pirie scholarship which has allowed her to study with Joseph Long at NESMS. During this time she has achieved her ABRSM Grade 8 with distinction and an A in Higher music in 4th Year.  She is passionate about music and hopes to pass on her enthusiasm to others and to her own young pupils. 

2016-7 Eleanor Cozens

At the end of the period of the award, NESMS stated “Eleanor has benefitted hugely from her lessons with Jean Webster. Over this past year she has been made an Associate of the Royal Schools of Music (Singing with Merit) and has been accepted to study for a Bachelor of Music at Napier University in Edinburgh”.

Eleanor's contribution to the annual NESMS Scholarship Concert in Craigiebuckler Church on Friday 23 June 2017 was reviewed by Alan Cooper:

Soprano Eleanor Cozens was accompanied by her mother Jill Cozens. Her programme was from the lighter side of the repertoire — show music by the American composers Stephen Schwartz and George Gershwin. She opened with two rather wistful songs from The Baker's Wife by Schwartz. Eleanor has a delicate, sweet voice that was ideal for putting across the gentle tenderness of both these songs. Her diction was impeccable which is essential for getting across this music where the words are so important. Eleanor did not just sing these pieces but acted them too both with her voice and her delivery. She made us feel the emotions in the songs along with her.

This was equally true of the two Gershwin songs, 'Someone to Watch Over Me' with its long introduction in which the words are crucial too and in 'But Not For Me'.

2015-6 Emma Winchester

Emma received the scholarship to support her lessons as a horn player, no singer being deemed worthy of the award that year.

Isabella Clapperton 2014-5 Ellie Pirie Scholarship Winner

Isabella Clapperton

2014-5 - Isabella Clapperton

Isabella was one of three singers who performed in the annual NESMS Scholarship Concert in Craigiebuckler Church on Friday 26 June 2015. Alan Cooper provided the following review:

Isabella (Ella) Clapperton studies at NESMS with Alan Watt and hers was the most "mainstream" classical vocal performance.  She began with two very attractive performances of songs with a pastoral theme, C. V. Stanford's Soft Day and Michael Head's Foxgloves.  Ella's performances were attractive paintings in song.  Schubert's Seligkeit was sung in an English translation and came across well and perhaps surprisingly for a classical singer;  Ella's performance of Gershwin's Love Walked Right In came across particularly well and was arguably her best performance.

Isabella gave a recital after the Annual General Meeting in High Church Hilton on Tuesday 18 August 2015.

2013-4 - Duncan Pirie

Duncan, a young baritone, had only recently begun lessons at The North East of Scotland Music School under the guidance of Peter Webster and Alan Watt. He had sung extensively with Haddo House Choral and Operatic Society and Aberdeen University Opera Society, for which he performed in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin in 2013. He had also recently attended master classes with Donald Maxwell and Oksana Lesnichaya. Duncan aimed to pursue singing as a career and was currently auditioning at conservatoires round the country.

Alan Cooper reviewed Duncan's performance in the annual NESMS Scholarship Concert in Craigiebuckler Church on Wednesday 18 June 2014 as follows:

Baritone Duncan Pirie is quite young and his voice is yet to mature but he too showed great artistry and understanding of the music. The Vagabond by Vaughan Williams is another one of my favourites and Duncan managed to express the "gentleman of the road's" responses to the different seasons he has to contend with. I could almost imagine the character and the landscapes he traverses in this performance. Handel's aria Arm, Arm Ye Brave was preceded by the recitative which introduces it and here Duncan paced and shaped the music nicely before launching with fortitude into the bold persuasion of the aria itself. O Del Mio Dolce Ardor, a passionate love song was smoothly sung and in proper Italian too.

2012-13 - David Ferguson

David Ferguson, Ellie Pirie Scholar 2013
David Ferguson

David started singing at the age of 8 as a choirboy with the Deeside Choristers. He has maintained close connections with this group, and is now their choirmaster. He had performed with numerous choirs, including the National Youth Choir of Scotland, touring to various locations in Germany, as well as numerous venues across the British Isles. David also had strong links with the University of Aberdeen Music Department, having graduated with a BMus degree in 2011, and still performed with the University Chamber Choir on a frequent basis. Recent solo performances included singing with the Aberdeen based chamber choir �Con Anima� in their performance of the Messiah this year, as well as playing the part of Sarastro in the University of Aberdeen Opera Society�s recent production of The Magic Flute. He currently received lessons at the North East of Scotland Music School, where he was Assistant Administrator, under the tutelage of Jean Webster and Alan Watt on Voice, and Joseph Long on Piano. David was delighted to be performing as part of the AIYF festival.

David sang the Baritone solo part in the Fauré Requiem at the Come and Sing Fauré event held by the choir on 25 May 2013 and gave a short performance after the Annual General Meeting on 25 June 2013.

Brychan Cromwell

Brychan Cromwell

2011-12 - Brychan Cromwell

Brychan Cromwell graduated in Chemical Engineering from the University of Aberdeen in July 2012 and moved on to work in Southampton.

Brychan sings soprano and the Scholarship helped with tuition at NESMS, where she studied under Jean Webster. She was a member of the St Machar's Cathedral Choir during her stay in Aberdeen and took part in many University musical performances.

Brychan gave a performance after the Annual General Meeting in June 2012, accompanied by Drew Tulloch.


Andrew Greer, Ellie Pirie Scholarship winner 2010Andrew Greer

2009-10 - Andrew Greer

Andrew is a doctor who had recently moved to Aberdeen when he was awarded the Ellie Pirie Scholarship. He has a singing repertoire that has grown from bases in both Warwick and Dundee.

During his time in Warwick he was actively involved in many pursuits. He was a choral scholar with, and was president of, Warwick University Choir. Outwith university he also sang with the Warwick Phoenix singers, and during this time he was given the opportunity to sing with Kiri te Kanawa. As a member of Warwick Student Opera he was involved in productions of Mozart, taking on roles such as Figaro and Don Giovanni.

Whilst studying in Dundee he was again involved with a number of choirs, singing with Dundee University Chamber Choir, St Paul's Cathedral Choir and St Mary's Church, where he was also a scholar. He has enjoyed various tours with choirs over the years visiting Leipzig, Dublin, and Barcelona in the past.

More recently he was granted the Ellie Pirie Scholarship in 2010, and subsequently sang in the Aberdeen Bach Choir before he moved away. He ha received vocal tuition from Raimund Herincx, Alan Watt, Jean Webster, and more recently Ruth Black.

2008-9 - Mairi Findlay

The winner of the 2008-9 Ellie Pirie Scholarship was Mairi Findlay who is from Inverness and was in her final year of studying medicine at Aberdeen University. She had received singing tutition from Colin Lewis and currently studied at the North East of Scotland Music School with Alison MacDonald.

Mairi had sung in number of choirs and was head chorister of Inverness Cathedral. More recently she had sung solos with Alyth Choral Union, Highland Harmony and with the NHS Grampian Healthcare Choir at their Christmas Carol Concert. She had also been a member of the National Youth Choir of Scotland for a number of years and was selected to sing in the semi-chorus at a performance of The Dream of Gerontius as part of the Edinburgh International Festival in 2009. As well as singing she enjoys playing the piano and violin. In her spare time she plays in a ceilidh band called Ceol Cridhe!

Colin Brockie, three times winner of the Ellie Pirie Scholarship

2006-7 & 2007-8

Colin Brockie from Ellon was the winner in 2006-7 and again in 2007-8, adding to his previous award in 2003-4. Colin sang the part of the Messenger in the Choir's performance of Samson in St Machar's Cathedral on Sunday 27 April 2008 and Alan Cooper said of him: ... there was an especially fine performance from young Colin Brockie as the Israelitish messenger. This is surely a young man to look out for in the future.

After gaining a BA Hons from Gray’s School of Art at the Robert Gordon University, Colin continued to receive his singing lessons at the North East of Scotland Music School (NESMS), being taught by Ruth Black, Alan Watt and Raimund Herincx, as well as being one of the assistant administrators there. He hoped to pursue a career in opera after further studies in Manchester or London, and in fact continued his musical education at the Royal Northern College of Music, where he gained a Masters in Solo Performance, followed by a one year Postgraduate Diploma.

Upon leaving the RNCM, Colin performed in the choruses of Buxton Festival Opera (Jephtha, Maiden in the Tower, Kaschei the Immortal and Intermezzo as Legal Counsellor), Wexford Festival (L'arlesiana and Le Roi Malgré Lui as Un Soldat), Glyndebourne Festival chorus (Falstaff, Don Pasquale, Billy Budd, Der Rosenkavalier, Carmen, Der Meistersinger, Il Barbiere di Seville and Béatrice et Bénédict)) and Glyndebourne Tour chorus (Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail, Don Pasquale and Saul). Since his return to Aberdeen in 2018, Colin has taught privately and at the Scott School of Singing. He was appointed Manager of NESMS in February 2019.


Paul Tierney, Baritone, then a final year student of music at the University of Aberdeen, was the winner of the Ellie Pirie Scholarship for 2005-6. Paul studied under Jean Webster at NESMS. He gave a short recital to the choir at St Margaret's School on Tuesday 17 January 2007.

The winner of the Ellie Pirie Scholarship for 2004-5 was Andrew House, a third year student at the University of Aberdeen. Andrew, a tenor, comes from Perth. He was a pupil of Jean Webster at NESMS and sang with the National Youth Choir of Scotland.

The Ellie Pirie Scholarship winner for 2003-4 was Colin Brockie. Colin was then in his third year at The Robert Gordon University studying 3D Design. A baritone, he was in his fifth consecutive year with the National Youth Choir of Scotland. A pupil of Ruth Black at NESMS, Colin performed along with the Aberdeen Bach Choir at the closing concert of the 2004 Brechin Arts Festival in Brechin Cathedral on 3 October 2004, giving a recital of songs accompanied by Donald Hawkesworth.


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