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Monday, 31 December, 2001, 00:00 GMT
Notable praise for musician
Honours graphic
Scottish traditional music is honoured by the Queen
Scottish accordionist and composer Phil Cunningham has been made an MBE for services to Scottish traditional music.

The 41-year-old musician, who began playing the accordion at the age of three, said he was "delighted" and "amazed" to be given the honour.

Edinburgh-born Cunningham, whose partnership with fiddler Aly Bain is one of the most celebrated on the Scottish traditional music scene, said his first reaction on being told of his honour was "who me?".

His collaboration with Bain began in 1988 and the duo's television work was so well received that they have been touring Scotland annually ever since, in addition to frequent performances in Europe and North America.

Accordionist Phil Cunningham
Phil Cunningham: "Amazing"
Mr Cunningham, who is a presenter on BBC Scotland's Hogmanay Live celebration, said: "It is a great honour to be given an honour for something you love doing so much.

"I became a musician by default. I was meant to be a zoologist, and to be given an honour for services to Scottish music is amazing considering I never meant to do it."

His professional career began at the age of 16, when he joined his brother Johnny in the highly-acclaimed Scottish band Silly Wizard.

He left Silly Wizard in 1983 to pursue a solo career, and found himself in demand as a composer and performer for television, radio, film and stage.

In the mid 80s he toured and recorded with supergroup Relativity, with his brother Johnny, and Irish brother and sister duo, Michael and Triona O'Domnaill.

Orchestral work

In the 90s, he wrote the music for Bill Bryden's spectacular theatre productions The Ship and The Big Picnic.

In recent years he has worked as music director and composer for various BBC Scotland series, and also wrote The Highlands and Islands Suite, an orchestral work which was performed at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

He has recently toured with Bonnie Raitt and with Kepa Junkera, in addition to running CAP recording studios, based in Inverness-shire, with his partner Donna.

Other honours in the world of arts and entertainment went to Timothy Clifford, director-general of the National Galleries of Scotland, who became a knight.

I became a musician by default. I was meant to be a zoologist, and to be given an honour for services to Scottish music is amazing considering I never meant to do it.

Phil Cunningham
Mr Clifford is a leading authority on Italian art.

Giles Havergal, director of the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, gets a CBE for services to the theatre.

He is renowned for his creativity, and his all-black production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in modern dress with a minimum of decor will long be remembered.

There is also a CBE for Ian Hamilton Finlay, the Scottish sculptor.

There is an OBE for an author, Rosamunde Pilcher, who has been described as the grande dame of the romantic novel.

She has been writing for 60 years and has produced more than 30 novels.

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