Choir mem­bers find mu­sic re­ally is the food of love

The Oban Times - - News - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­times.co.uk

A GAELIC choir con­duc­tor is mak­ing a very un­usual pitch for new mem­bers, and it seems to be work­ing, with num­bers in his two choirs swelling to un­heard of num­bers.

Ray­mond Brem­ner, 49, says join­ing a choir will ‘im­prove the chance of fall­ing in love’ – and he should know, as six cou­ples have al­ready met and mar­ried through their in­volve­ment with a choir.

With many groups get­ting back to­gether af­ter the long Christ­mas break, he says joing­ing a choir ‘ will change your life’ and he is en­cour­ag­ing as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble to join.

Mr Brem­ner, con­duc­tor for Atomic Piseag, the Ar­gyll­shire ladies Gaelic choir, told The

Oban Times: ‘Our choir is bet­ter and cheaper than a dat­ing agency. We have had six wed­dings in the last five years and there are a few more I can see on the hori­zon.

‘The choir has all any­one would need or want – friend­ship, hos­pi­tal­ity, drinks, bar­be­cue in sum­mer, din­ing out in small groups and al­to­gether. We travel all over the place, we love each other and are all part of a huge, big fam­ily of friends.

Liv­ing in Thurso and trav­el­ling all over coun­try, Ray­mond, who con­ducts his ladies choir from the Pipe Band Hall in Oban, said: ‘In the past few years, three of my ladies sec­tion in Còisir Ghàidhlig Mhealb­haich have got mar­ried – and there’s an­other two get­ting mar­ried this year. One of them to one of our tenors – the so­pra­nos and al­tos are busy sort­ing out new dresses and hats for the wed­ding.’

Mr Brem­ner ex­plained: ‘In 2009 Al­li­son mar­ried An­drew Swan­son. He’s not in the choir but she sings alto and we’ve known him for as long as we’ve known her. They got hitched at the West Church in Thurso. The whole choir were there and sang at the church ser­vice. In 2011 Sheena mar­ried Murdo MacRitchie. She sang so­prano in the choir and they met at a Melvich Gaelic Choir cèilidh in Thurso. He’s from Lewis, she’s orig­i­nally from Har­ris. They got mar­ried at Tar­bert, Har­ris, on the Mon­day of the Western Isles Mòd – a true Mòd wed­ding. I was the best man. They are both now hap­pily mar­ried and liv­ing in Perth.

‘In 2012 He­len mar­ried Michael Hed­dle. She sang for Melvich for the first time in Stornoway in 2011 and we won the Lorn Shield. She got mar­ried the fol­low­ing year, and again the whole choir sang at the wed­ding on a glo­ri­ous sunny day.

‘In 2016 Sarah will be mar­ry­ing Ali MacLeod. Sarah joined the choir when she was 15 and started learn­ing Gaelic. She is now a Gaelic medium teacher in In­ver­ness and met Ali whilst she was a Gaelic De­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer with Co­munn na Gàidhlig in Fort Wil­liam – the year we all went to the Pan Celtic Fes­ti­val in Car­low.

‘Also this year, Re­becca will be mar­ry­ing Neil MacRitchie. They both met through the choir even though she’s from Portree and he’s from Car­loway on the Isle of Lewis. I met Re­becca at a Skye cèilidh hosted by the late Char­lie MacColl in the West End Ho­tel in 2012. She joined the choir that year, as did Neil. The wed­ding is on July 1 in Portree and the choir will be singing at the re­cep­tion.’

While Mr Brem­ner man­ages to ar­range wed­dings for oth­ers, it seems he hasn’t man­aged to find love him­self.

He says peo­ple are in­tim­i­dated by the grilling mem­bers of Atomic Piseag would give any po­ten­tial part­ner he has and he is happy to stay sin­gle ‘for now’.

Clock­wise from top left: Ali­son and An­drew Swan­son; Sheena and Murdo MacRitchie; Sarah, who is mar­ry­ing Ali Macleod; Re­becca who will marry Neil MacRitchie; and He­len and Michael Hed­dle.

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