MUSIC & DANCE FESTIVAL
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
Competitors and judges of the Accordion and Fiddle Masters at St John’s Cathedral on Friday.
Rose MacInnes, seven, from Oban played Over The Sea To Skye.
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.
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.