The Oban Times - - Leisure -

AROUND £ 3 mil­lion flowed into Oban thanks to the 34th High­lands and Is­lands Mu­sic and Dance Fes­ti­val, or­gan­is­ers es­ti­mate.

More than 1,000 com­peti­tors came from across Scot­land and the UK to com­pete at High­land danc­ing, ac­cor­dion, clarsach, pi­ano and fid­dle play­ing, singing, danc­ing, bag­pip­ing and drum­ming.

More than 400 High­land dancers alone made their way to At­lantis Leisure on Satur­day to take part in the Scottish area fi­nals – the only team High­land danc­ing com­pe­ti­tion in the world.

Com­mit­tee mem­ber Isla Munro, who was in charge of or­gan­is­ing the High­land danc­ing events, said: ‘The day went re­ally well. We had a new for­mat and be­cause of that the en­tries in­creased so much.

‘I think it is be­cause they are com­ing here for the whole week­end and the Scottish area fi­nals is the only team event in the world and you have the main High­land danc­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

‘I would like to thank ev­ery­one. It wouldn’t be pos­si­ble to do it with­out At­lantis Leisure and also all the vol­un­teers who help out all week­end.’

Sun­day’s MC Billy Forsyth, pres­i­dent of the world gov­ern­ing body of High­land danc­ing, added: ‘The whole town has been filled with High­land dancers thor­oughly en­joy­ing them­selves. The Scottish area fi­nals are unique to Oban. It has the finest dancers from all over Scot­land.’

The four- day fes­ti­val kicked off on Fri­day with the Scottish Chore­og­ra­phy Chal­lenge, and con­tin­ued on Mon­day, at Oban’s Cor­ran Halls, where 38 teams had en­tered.

Fri­day’s win­ners of the chore­ographed set theme, open age group, were: in first place, the Dawn Fraser School of Stir­ling danc­ing

This is Scot­land to mu­sic by Sk­er­ryvore. Celia Orr School of Danc­ing in La­nark came in sec­ond with Spirit of the

Na­tion, fol­lowed in third by the De­bra-Ann School of Ed­in­burgh, with Ghost Tours of the Royal Mile. In the solo/duet com­pe­ti­tion, the Dawn Fraser School of

Stir­ling came in first, play­ing Jack and Vic­tor from the Glaswe­gian comedy Still

Game, fol­lowed by last year’s win­ner the Fiona MacNeil School of Ren­frew in sec­ond place per­form­ing Celtic Rag

time, and the Grant/ Wil­son School of Kir­riemuir and For­far in third with Finding My Style.

Nearby on Fri­day in St John’s Cathe­dral more Scottish tal­ents com­peted in the Ac­cor­dion and Fid­dle Mas­ters. Fid­dle ad­ju­di­ca­tor Paul An­der­son praised the ‘ very, very high qual­ity’ of play­ing mak­ing the top three ‘ very close’, but he and fel­low judge Mau­rice Dun­can both agreed the same prize-win­ners: first Ge­orge David­son from Tarves, sec­ond Shona Mac­Fadyen from East Kil­bride, and third Eilidh An­der­son from Ban­chory.

In the ac­cor­dion sec­tion, ad­ju­di­ca­tors Michael Garvin and Matthew MacLen­nan also pro­fessed dif­fi­culty de­cid­ing the win­ners of a ‘ very good com­pe­ti­tion’ at a ‘fan­tas­tic stan­dard’, but in the end they named Gary Suther­land of Fife first, with Emma Dick­son of West Lin­ton sec­ond, and Adin Gra­ham of Fife third.

The fid­dle play­ing con­tin­ued on Satur­day morn­ing at Oban’s Re­gent Ho­tel for many of the com­peti­tors and judge Paul An­der­son, as­sisted by ste­ward Mar­garet Forbes who has been help­ing, and en­joy­ing, the event for ev­ery one of its 34 years. Again Mr An­der­son praised the very high qual­ity of the close com­pe­ti­tion.

Pri­mary school singing took place si­mul­ta­ne­ously at Glen­cruit­ten Church Cen­tre on Satur­day morn­ing, where ad­ju­di­ca­tor Martin Wil­son hailed the ‘courage and guts’ of the young chil­dren who stood up to en­ter­tain the au­di­ence.

Oban High School hosted the Ju­nior Solo Pip­ing, Chanter and Drum­ming Com­pe­ti­tion on Satur­day. Ste­ward Alistair De­war said: ‘We are prob­a­bly not much short of last year, but still a very high num­ber of com­peti­tors, par­tic­u­larly in the pip­ing. In the drum­ming we could do with more drum­mers, but the pip­ing is very strong. Some peo­ple have trav­elled a con­sid­er­able dis­tance and we ap­pre­ci­ate that very much in­deed.’ Cham­pion piper An­gus MacColl also praised the ‘re­ally high stan­dard’ of the chanter play­ing, which, he said, is ‘the future of the whole thing’.

Fes­ti­val chair Breege Smyth said: ‘In the 34th year, it is a well- oiled ma­chine. We are grow­ing this fes­ti­val, ex­pand­ing it to in­clude other gen­res. We want this to be a plat­form for Celtic Con­nec­tions and Go North. There will be lots more vis­i­tors and per­form­ers: we will in­crease it by a

third.’ Re­sults on page 21. More pho­tos on­line

An­nie MacNeil, aged 11, from Fort Wil­liam. 17_t18high­land­danc­ing06a

16_T18_ H&I M&D Fes­ti­val_ Ac­cor­dion and Fid­dle Masters_ 02

Com­peti­tors and judges of the Ac­cor­dion and Fid­dle Mas­ters at St John’s Cathe­dral on Fri­day.

16_T18_ H&I M&D Fes­ti­val_ Fid­dle_ 01

Rose MacInnes, seven, from Oban played Over The Sea To Skye.

16_T18_ H&I M&D Fes­ti­val_ Fid­dle_ 01

Fid­dle prize-win­ners, left to right, Shona Mac­Fadyen from East Kil­bride, Jack West­well from Ed­in­burgh, Ge­orge David­son from Tarves, Eilidh An­der­son from Ban­chory, and He­len Jor­dan from Oban, be­fore clerk John Kelly and ad­ju­di­ca­tor Paul An­der­son.


The McCormick fam­ily who com­peted in a num­ber of events on Satur­day. From left to right Isla, John and Kirsty.

16_T18_ H&I M&D Fes­ti­val_ Ac­cor­dion & Fid­dle Masters_ 01

Emma Dick­son from West Lin­ton came sec­ond in the ac­cor­dion mas­ters.


Adin Gra­ham, 20, didn’t have enough hands to carry all the tro­phies that he won back to Fife.


Emma McPhee, 15, Taynuilt. Emma won the un­der-16 march, Strath­speys and reels and came sec­ond in the un­der 16 Gaelic waltzes. Emma came over­all win­ner in both classes.

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