A splendid night of music was enjoyed by a sell-out audience at the gala concert at Mareel on Thursday in the culmination of the week’s Shetland Schools’ Music Festival.
There were contrasting performances from trophy-winning groups and individuals from around the isles, showcasing the range of talent that adjudicator, and now audience member, Anne MacDonald said she found “amazing”.
The proceedings were streamed live by Promote Shetland – compere Eunice Henderson said the show was being watched in Tasmania – but, as Ms MacDonald said later, the young performers appeared “remarkably unfazed”.
First up was the P7 group from Bell’s Brae, including fiddles, xylophones, guitars and drums and featuring an impressive saxophone solo.
Mid Yell Minis followed, some of the youngest performers to take to the stage. The delightful group of bairns, smart in blue T-shirts, threw themselves into renditions of the Trowie Song and I Wanna be Like You from the Jungle Book with uninhibited actions. The audience laughed and cheered, even more so when one of the group walked off stage with the (correct) trophy from the
The audience laughed and cheered, even more so when one of the group walked off stage with the (correct) trophy from the silverware table, without waiting for it to be presented. “That was so good”, was all Eunice managed to say.
Another primary group from Yell, this time from Burravoe, performed the self-penned My Peerie Baby, a haunting lullaby with voice, fiddle, recorder and guitar and with an interesting percussion section.
Sandwick’s primary choir, dressed in seashore blues and greens, sang the evocative Drop in the Ocean, to be followed by junior young musician Harry Sandison, the sole accordion player of the night.
After another faultless rendition of his winning pieces, in which he was accompanied by tutor Peter Wood, (who later won a bag of Bressay tatties in the raffle), it was time for something completely different with Hamnavoe Tin Whistle Group, an appropriate choice for St Patrick’s Day, which encouraged lots of clapping from the audience.
The High Kicks orchestra played an enjoyable and well-thought out medley of classic tunes, followed by a spooky collection of witches, some with pointy hats and one with a broomstick, from Dunrossness. They announced their song as Weird Sisters. “I like the sound of that”, said Eunice, and their clear diction and dynamics was complemented by evil laughter.
Next were woodwind ensemble Puffinwind, who produced a remarkably tight sound on their various instruments with an enjoyable samba.
A grand piano seemed to appear on stage from nowhere, thanks to the slick work of the stagehands, for the performance of senior young musician Amy Laurenson, who besides winning her own award, had also accompanied “20 or 30” others during the week.
Her rendition of La Cathédrale Engloutie had the audience spellbound, with soft tones to ringing bass tones conjuring up the mystery of the cathedral emerging and sinking back underwater. Thunderous applause ensued.
Receiving her trophy, the 16-year-old said of her success: “I’ve still not got over it.”
Eunice’s own large group, the Bell’s Brae fiddlers, rounded off the evening in style with Norwegian and Shetland numbers.
The young people had done themselves proud, and, speaking later, Ms MacDonald praised the voluntary effort that was the music festival in which “so many people in such a small place were doing everything to make it happen”.
• For the most comprehensive coverage of the schools’ music festival see this week’s Shetland Times.