“It just keeps getting bigger”, said Noelle Henderson, of the Shetland Schools Music Festival committee, which kicked off today at Mareel.
The four-day event, which celebrates talented young musicians from around the isles, is boasting another record-setting year with more than 300 entries from local schools.
This year it is the turn of secondary pupils, with the event alternating between junior and senior pupils each year.
A packed schedule of musicians will perform each day with many events free to attend for members of the public.
On Wednesday night there will be a ticketed event showcasing the very best young performers, an event at which the senior and junior young musicians of the year will be crowned.
This will be followed on Thursday night by a gala concert which will bring together a selection of musicians from across the week.
Speaking shortly after today’s proceedings got under way Ms Henderson said that the event showed the strength and breadth of musical talent in Shetland.
She said: “I would say that the young people that are involved with music at the moment are very dedicated.
“They have lots of opportunities to play together in groups, in school and in the community which makes a big difference to their confidence. And they’ve been playing absolutely brilliantly today.”
This year’s event is once again being adjudicated by Anne Macdonald, who has performed with the violin section of the Scottish Ballet Orchestra as well as being an examiner at Trinity College London.
Ms Henderson said that the violinist was keen to return to the festival after being dazzled by last year’s performers.
She said: “I think she just really enjoyed the experience and that she really gets the way we deliver music here. The young people here are really serious about their music but still have fun with it.”
She added: “The more you look at the music festival the more layered it gets. We want them to get the whole professional experience which is why we like to do it at Mareel with the excellent sound team they have here.
“They learn a lot from the performing. They’re learning to keep going when they make mistakes, that sticking in is important and that learning music does require application.”