More than 700 young folk are set to take part in the annual Shetland Schools Music Festival from 14th to 17th March.
A packed programme of musical performances, classes and workshops, plus the junior and senior Young Musician of the Year competitions, will involve individuals, groups, duets and choirs in 33 different categories.
There are 236 formal entries, with this year’s festival focusing on secondary pupils. The busy event is made possible by funding from Creative Scotland’s Youth Music Initiative.
In addition, more than 200 primary pupils will take part in music workshops based on two very different musical styles, beatboxing and samba.
Lerwick Town Hall and the Clickimin Centre will host the festival’s four-day run and the entire range of instrumental and vocal tuition in Shetland schools will be represented.
Festival co-ordinator Davie Gardner said: “We are delighted that interest in the festival, together with the number of participants, continues to grow, while the diverse range and quality of the music on offer is simply astounding.”
The public had an opportunity, Mr Gardner said, to enjoy “the benefits of our continued investment in music and instrumental education in Shetland”.
Although the festival is largely non-competitive, all classes will be judged by professional music adjudicator Val Brodie, who is attending her first schools festival in Shetland.
Constructive feedback will be provided to all participants and prizes awarded to the outstanding performers.
Mrs Brodie started her career as a secondary school music teacher, while also establishing the large and flourishing music centre for children, young people and adults in Rugby – working with young orchestras, chamber music, wind ensembles and choirs. She has adjudicated at many national festivals.
Integral to the festival is the annual junior and senior Young Musician of the Year competition, which this year will be held in the Town Hall on 16th March at 7.30pm.
This year’s festival gala concert, which rounds off the event, will feature a number of the week’s musical highlights and stand-out performances. It takes place in the Clickimin Centre the following night at 7pm.
Councillor Florence Grains, the SIC spokeswoman for culture and recreation, said she was delighted to see the festival going from strength to strength, and was looking forward to attending.
Mrs Grains said: “It’s very important that our young people are offered the opportunity to develop their musical talents through performing in public the skills they learn in the classroom. This not only allows them to have fun making music, but of course also has an impact on educational initiatives like the Curriculum for Excellence. It also demonstrates the positive results of our continued investment in music and instrumental education.”
All festival events with the exception of the gala concert are free of charge, although donations are welcome. Programmes for the event will also be on sale, and full details will appear in the festival programme and in The Shetland Times.