The 34th Highlands and Islands Music and Dance Festival
P reparations for the 34th Highlands and Islands Music and Dance Festival are well under way. The competition element of the festival runs like a well- oiled machine with almost 100 volunteers involved in the organising, stewarding, and chaperoning of the contestants, adjudicators and visitors. The logistical exercise is not for the faint-hearted. Breege Smyth, who chairs the festival, is full of praise for the committee. Radio 2 Young Folk Award and H&I M&D Festival piping winners Brighde Chaimbeul and Chris Lee. This year the programme for the fringe events is the largest to date with what the organisers hope has something to entertain everyone. The festival – from next Thursday April 27, until Monday May 1 – will kick off with live piping at McCaig’s Tower on the Thursday evening at 7pm. Rosemary McColl is hoping the weather will be favourable and expects this performance to be a popular with locals and tourists alike.
Festival mania will take over the town on Saturday with outdoor performances taking place in Station Square and Stafford Street between noon and 4pm.
Paddy Shaw and his Swing Band will start the party going in the community marquee in Stafford Street at noon. The Adele Askew Dancers will also take to the stage and perform some well-rehearsed steps. Organisers Laura Macdonald and Martin Charlton are looking forward to welcoming hordes of people to enjoy the variety of entertainment on offer.
Station Square will provide an excellent space for the Oban FM stage. Well known presenter Campbell Cameron will introduce a fine array of performers from traditional to folk. Some surprise guests who are on tour in the area are expected to perform in the afternoon en route to their next gig. Crowd participation will be requested for a unique Strip the Willow and Dashing White Sergeant. Instructors will be on hand to choreograph this spectacle.
Many pubs, hotels and restaurants are hosting live music events over the weekend. A special guest to the festival is Sarah Fanet, singer/songwriter from Kinlochleven. Sarah will perform at the Chocolate shop from 2pm. A full programme of events is available at BID4OBAN, Visit Scotland and outlets.
A first for the festival is the ceilidh on Saturday night, April 29, 8pm at Skipinnish Ceilidh House. Argyll-based band Ceilidh’s Homet will perform a great selection of music to dance to from traditional to country. The organisers are hoping that this dance will appeal to locals who want to support the festival but cannot make it into town during the day. Tourists and visitors will be encouraged to come along to this fundraiser for the festival. Tickets are £7, and will be on sale at all venues over the weekend or email:info@ obanfestival.org.
The success of this festival relies on so many people and, with more than 3,000 visitors arriving for the four- day competition events, it is important that the entertainment caters for all. The festival committee is working hard to encourage the local community to get involved.
‘We urge everyone to come into Oban and join in the fun. This is the first festival of the season, and we want to let the world know that Oban is ready to welcome them with song, dance, music and laughter,’ said Breege Smyth, chairperson.
Senior Piping 27A Piobaireachd Grade B 1st Euan Dewar from Oban (Pipe Major of Oban Pipe Band).
Left: Junior Piping 22 Novice March U14s 1st Laura Robertson from Fort William 3rd Erin Byars from Dunbeg 2nd Robert Allen from Glasgow Middle: Junior Piping 21A Chanter U12s 1st Thomas Wilson 2nd= Tamzyn Cassidy 2nd= Ruaraidh Drennan Right: Junior Drumming Rachel Thom from Livingston 1st in both 402 Hornpipe & Jig and 403 Part March 4 Part Strathspey 4 part Reel
Junior Piping prize-winners.
Junior Drumming 400 Stick & Pad U14s 1st Oliver Twynham from Campbeltown 2nd Phoebe Meldrum from Tayport.
Junior Drumming 404 Tenor MSR 1st Eilidh Wynd from Dunblane 2nd= Megan Evans from Oban.
Junior Drumming 401 March 1st Matthew MacDonald from Oban 2nd Grant Strain from Airdrie 3rd Zoe Cook from Oban.