Monday, 23 December 2013

The End of Another Year

Hello everyone!  Well we’re at the end of another year. The choir are on a well deserved break but will get together for what’s now becoming an annual New Year buffet-ceilidh in Thurso, courtesy of our lovely soprano, Helen Heddle and her Tempest Café.

It’s been a wonderful year again – everyone packed into Ceòlas for a choir Burns Supper with a difference in January, winning at the International Pan Celtic Festival in April, taking part in the local Mòd in Bettyhill, winning the Puirt Competition, participating at the Inverness Mòd and being second-equal with Inverness GC to Dingwall, plenty parties and BBQs during the summer at Ceòlas new fire pit and BBQ areas, workshops with Mary Ann Kennedy in Thrumster and in Castletown courtesy of Christine Stone, participation at the National Mòd in Paisley and here we are already looking at next year and doing it all over again!

We also have a year to look back on with our soloists as well! Many of the choir obtained their Gaelic cards this year – Mikie, Ed, Mel, Eileen, Susan and Kooga – well done! They still continue to learn the language, along with other choristers Pat and Hugh, and all are looking to increase their language skills along with other new learners! We really have to congratulate all of the soloists in their achievements – many of them with silverware at their homes this year – Ed, Mel, Eileen and Kooga all took part in their first competitions this year. To add to his Provincial Mòd successes, Mikie had his first national Mòd success with third place out of 21 choristers in the Skye and Sutherland Bard competition, Neil won the trad competition at a number of provincial Mòds and made the final at the National, taking third place and Robert, after winning the Silver Pendant last year, went on to take the Gold Medal this year. Again, we should apologise to the Glynhill Hotel for the mess we made of his room – sorry! :D Robert also went on to win Best Up-and-Coming artiste at the MG Alba Trad Awards in December. Congratulations to him and indeed to them all!

We also were delighted to welcome a number of new choristers to the choir – Rebecca MacKenzie, Kelly Davidson and Sean Frame.

We’re really looking forward to having all the choristers that couldn’t sing with us in Paisley singing with us again in Inverness – Philip, Celia, Robert, Rebecca, Helen, Sheena, Alistair, Lee, Ruth, Sarah etc, etc – we missed you all!

We need to thank everyone again for their commitment, their time and effort – they’re a marvellous bunch and indeed all very much make up a family that we all miss when we’re not together! That includes our wonderful Gaelic Tutor and friend Christine Stone – she does a wonderful job looking after our Gaelic (and most of the Tenors, rowdy bunch that they are getting!), Graham, conductor of the Ladies Choir and Deputy Conductor, Pat (El Presidente!) Kieran, Philip and Ann.

Nollaig Chrìdheil dhuibh uile agus Bhliadhna Mhath Ùr dhuibh uile nuair a thigeas i!

Merry Christmas to you all and a Good New Year to you all when it comes!

See you all on the 3rd Jan at Ceòlas and 4th Jan in the Tempest Café at 6.30pm for 7pm. Choir returns on Thursday 16th January in Melvich Primary School at 7 pm for Ladies and 8 pm for mixed voices. Everyone will be welcome, especially new choristers!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Caithness & Sutherland Provincial Mòd, Am Blàran Odhar, June 1st 2013



The view was so good we all forgot to take photos of people....

This blog post is courtesy of our illustrious choir conductor, Raymond Bremner!


"The Caithness and Sutherland Provincial Mòd - the only provincial Mòd that imitates the National by being hosted in a different venue each year throughout the biggest provincial area in Scotland - covering the entire geographic area of the North of Scotland. We don't have a lot of hardened Mòd goers coming to our provincial Mòd who travel and attend the other more well-known Mòds in other areas of Scotland but what we do have is a great atmosphere, created by a lot of hard work undertaken by a close-knit community here in our home area.

The provincial Mòd at the weekend was all the more poignant given that we had so much of our local talent on show - both youth and adult. From Fèis to Choir, from soloists, instrumentalists to choral and group participation. We had the lot.

For me, I really look forward to Bettyhill every time. I remember when I first sat in the bay-windowed north room of the Bettyhill Hotel which now hosts diners - with characters like the late Willie Barra and Jessie Cameron together with Rona Lightfoot who was adjudicating at this years provincial. We would sit there singing and laughing until 5am with the sun going down for a brief minute and the sunlight never fading. There has even been times where some of the choir members have gone beach-walking at that time of the morning before going to bed! You have to experience it to believe it!

Another great thing about our Mòd here is that the junior and senior competitions are all still on the same day creating a great atmosphere - we need to encourage the adults to attend the junior competitions more and the juniors also to attend the adult competitions more - for inspiration to both camps - the Eisteddfod does this so much better by having those "intermediate" areas that bridge the divide that we see so often at our own National Level. Seeing the juniors is an inspiration - especially when you arrive and see them all playing football on the field in their kilts! That hasn't changed since the days when James Graham and his mate James MacRae were doing the same at Bettyhill - with Willie Barra having to sort James MacRae's tie before he went into competition! As we know, James Graham went onto win the major Junior awards that year at National level (1996!) and then finally to win the Gold Medal, carving a well-deserved career at the same time. Finlay MacKay, Golspie is another Gold Medallist from our area, Philip Todd a silver medallist and Christine Stone our current Traditional Gold Medallist - we have quite a boast from our Provincial area!

What's so important is that we continue to build on this past - and this year we saw that in no small measure. The up-and-coming Mikie Henderson who's taking on the challenge of learning the language to compete for the Silver - whether this year or next, we don't care, we just want him to keep going with the language to get that silver card and represent our area at National Level - which he did so well on Saturday!

Then, from the Western Isles, but claimed as our own, we have Neil MacRitchie, from Carloway. Committed to Melvich Gaelic Choir before his own village choir got under way, he has stuck with us and is now getting right back into the way of singing in Gaelic. We're delighted that we can boast a traditional song competition in our area and with the new cup that has been going for three years now with the revered name of Willie MacDonald (Barra) being commemorated both for his contribution to Gaelic and, in particular, Caithness, being the very first Traditional Gold Medallist at the Royal National Mòd in Stirling 1971, anyone who has their name engraved on that trophy can consider themselves honoured. Rona Lightfoot's short, blunt and very sweet adjudication to Neil - "Traditional Gold Medal - here you come!".

We also have other wonderful voices - Ed Boyter and his lovely partner Mel Hayes - who both sang in the Skye and Sutherland Bard Competition, with Ed himself winning. It's Mel's own fault that he won - if she hadn't brought him to her first choir practice, he wouldn't be in the choir to this day and would not be gracing a stage never mind singing solo at a Mòd - we're delighted that Mel came along those months ago, and that Ed decided to continue! Both sang wonderfully and with conviction - we know the practice that they put in as well! Eileen - with a lovely top soprano voice - how well she and Mel coped with the challenge of so much singing, colds and all - and still making a lovely contribution on the day. Ann Boag, who chaired the competition, stated that she wouldn't like to be the adjudicators - that the competition was fantastic - and very difficult. But how wonderful it was to hear each being announced with thunderous applause from their choir buddies, and again after they finished - wolf whistles and all!!!! It's a modern age folks - get with it - encourage it and accept it - the pomp of yester-year is gone - long live the modern age of the Mòd with the excitement it brings! Then there is the one and only - K-O-O-O-O-O-O-G-A! With the presence of a one-man choir! The grandson of the well-known heavy-weight Highland Games Chieftain at the Mey Games, Charlie Simpson. Descendent of the owners of the island of Stroma, he took to the stage, convinced he would forget his words in the last verse, and didn't! Whilst all of them might have been nervous, none forgot their words or stalled! We were a very proud choir for their contribution and their first Provincial Mòd singing solo will not be forgotten - they all go to Inverness in 3 weeks time and then to the National - gur math thèid leibh uile!

Our choir took to the stage in the afternoon - if we could get through An Dubh Ghleannach with any completion at all I would be happy - as usual, the choir turned up trumps! Not the best performance (well c'mon, we just managed it on the day with everyone not having to look at their words - not bad for June!!!!!). Puirt was better - more balanced, and we liked the decision of the adjudicators!

Our ladies were outstanding - nuff said!

Biadh, ceòl 's òl, craic 's comhradh - wonderful stuff in the evening - but who on earth decided not to have a bar at the final concert this year - thanks Mikie for taking us back to Bettyhill and saving the evening by allowing us to get the refreshments for Strathy Hall. There is a balance to be had - both for juniors and seniors - crisps and bottles of juice are not that for a tenor and bass section of a choir until midnight, unless of course, we're told to prepare before hand haha! :D

Hats off to Bettyhill Committee - another great Mòd and another great time in your company! Looking forward to the next one already! Well done everyone!"


 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Pan Celtic Festival, Carlow 2013


“To promote and strengthen Celtic languages, culture, music, song and sport and to encourage inter-Celtic tourism, trade and commerce, and exchange of information.”
 

-the aim of Pan Celtic, taken from its constitution


 
The Pan Celtic idea originated in 1970, and the Pan Celtic symbol was adopted in 1977 following an International competition. The image depicting this symbol surrounded by the national flags of Alba (Scotland), Eire (Ireland), Cymru (Wales), Kernow (Cornwall), Breizh (Brittany), and Mannin (Isle of Man), was developed later the same year. The Pan Celtic Festival (or Féile Pan Cheilteach in Irish Gaelic) is always held the week following Easter, with the very first of these being in Killarney in 1971. Fantastically the birth of the Pan Celtic, as well as the Féile Pan Cheilteach, has given rise to many other festivals either being restarted or created across the aforementioned nations, including the Kana ar Bobal in Brittany and An Cruinneach in the Isle of Man.

The North of Scotland Representation 2013, is possibly the biggest contingent from Alba that the Pan Celtic Festival has witnessed, representing Thurso Pipe Band, Coisir Ghaidhlig Mhealbhaich and Coilich a Chinn a Tuath (including representatives from Lairg Gaelic Choir).

The bus to Carlow left Thurso at 5.30am prompt on Monday 1st April, with Hugh making a fine steward, and went the long way out of Caithness via Castletown, Wick and Thrumster to pick everyone up. The drinking started at approximately 7am (well, it was Raymond’s birthday!) ……

Through Sutherland, picking up Lairgies along the way, we made good time to a very sunny Inverness airport, where the drinking continued, and by the time we got onto the plane it was a relatively drunk Coisir Ghaidhlig Mhealbhaich which delighted passengers with a couple of songs! Our illustrious leader didn’t delight the trolley dollies though, by chasing passengers up and down the aisle with his newly acquired feather duster (the less asked about this the better – see picture evidence though! ;-).

Raymond's Birthday Outfit


We landed in a cold, overcast Belfast at about midday, and continued our journey by coach to Carlow, arriving at about 5pm. The serious drinking and singing had started by 6pm.

That evening we went to the Irishmans pub, and sang everything from our Gaelic competition entries to Scots folk songs. Flower of Scotland seemed to particularly impress the locals! After a while we were asked next door, where the room was filled with songs, poems, stories, and a wee bit of theatre … an entirely different atmosphere. It was quiet and respectful, the old folk sang their beautiful songs. Our own Christine, Rebecca, Neil, Sarah, Raymond, as well as the choir, did their turn. It was lovely. Afterwards it was back to Ewings for the obligatory lock-in. So, night one, voices completely ruined, great craic had by all,  precedent established …

On Wednesday we had the 2nd birthday of the week, this time it being that of Mel, who is a soprano. It has to be said that the celebrations were a wee bit more sedate than those witnessed on Monday, but Mel still ended up in a pink feather boa by midnight (just normal every day wear for the Piseagan)!

For most of Wednesday folk did their own thing, although, as with each day of the week, the choir had a wee practice in the Irishmans, which became our local for the duration of the trip (well, during respectable hours anyway). The folk group Ceol Bho Thuath also had a couple of practices during the day in preparation for the Trad competitions in the evening.

On Wednesday night, everyone who is anyone was at the Sevenoaks Hotel to support our very own Cairistiona as well as Alex MacDonald in the solo Trad Singing Competition. Both were invited to attend by the Pan Celtic organisers after winning the ladies and men’s Traditional Gold Medals at last year’s Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail 2012 ann an Dun Omhain. We were also supporting Ceol Bho Thuath in the Traditional Folk Group competition, which was made up of Coisir Ghaidhlig Mhealbhaich members (Raymond Bremner – keyboard, vocals; Ed Boyter – bodhran, vocals; Michael Simpson – guitar, vocals; and Cairistiona Stone, Sarah Sutherland and Rebecca MacDonald – vocals).


Ceol Bho Thuath


Cairistiona and Alex were unlucky in the Trad Solo comp, but they were both fab. Cairistiona sang beautifully and reduced everyone who knew her to tears with her 2nd song entitled ‘Raoir Reubadh an Iolaire’, which is about a young women on the Isle of Lewis, full of hope, and waiting for her love to come home from the war in 1919, only to find him washed up on the shore, after a great storm broke the ship, ‘with no shoes on his feet’. Hauntingly beautiful and tragic. Her first song was entitled Eilean Fraoich and is an anthem to her native Lewis.

Ceol Bho Thuath sang ‘Bi Falbh on Uinneig’ and ‘Alasdair Mhic Cholla Ghasta’. They really contested first place in the Folk Group competition, and certainly appeared to be the firm favourite of the audience, however a gorgeous couple of songs by the last group of the night (one of the Welsh folk groups called Murad Olaf) pipped them to the post. Ceol Bho Thuath had to settle for a very respectable 2nd place.


Thursday was relatively quiet and activity-free for most of us. Folk did their own thing around town and the festival. A definite highlight of the day was the arrival of Atomic Piseag and the associated drams and songs.  Ed celebrated his birthday (the 3rd choir birthday of the trip), we all continued our celebration of being together in Ireland, a great festival, new connections, good times with friends, the laughter and music.


Atomic Piseag


Friday ended up being an extremely busy day. Late morning saw Coisir Ghaidhlig Mhealbhaich and friends, complete with the newly arrived (and fresher looking) Atomic Piseag contingent, having our last practice in the Irishmans. Some voices were a bit strained by this point due to colds and copious amounts of ……. singing (ahem), but we were sounding not too bad regardless. Practice over, there was just a couple of free hours before we met up at the Irishmans again in order to join the parade with the other nations through Carlow. Thurso Pipe Band were leading the parade so our group filed in proudly behind them, and strode through Carlow with our heads held high and Satires waving! The parade ended with an open air Ceilidh at Town Hall Plaza.

Just enough time for some tea, and then Coisir Ghaidhlig Mhealbhaich and Coilich a Chinn a Tuath and Atomic Piseag headed to Carlow Cathedral where we had been invited to sing at the Choral Concert. So many beautiful choirs, but I think Coisir Ghaidhlig Mhealbhaich stole the show with our renditions of Cearcall a Chuain and Maoileas Mor Na Guailne. The acoustics were awesome – wish I could always sing in Kirks and Cathedrals!  You can find Cearcall a Chuain on youtube here. (thanks to Neil Parkin for this)

Ceol Bho Thuath had been invited to play at the Welsh Night, and a contingent from Coisir Ghaidhlig Mhealbhaich went along for the craic.

Coisir Ghaidhlig Mhealbhaich


Saturday was the day of the Choral Competitions, and it was always going to be full on, with Coisir Ghaidhlig Mhealbhaich competing in two competitions, Atomic Piseag in one competition, and Coilich a Chinn a Tuath in one competition. We also had the Scottish Night that evening.

The Choral Competition was held at St Mary’s Academy, and as it was in a big sports hall there were good points and bad points in terms of performing. The acoustics were nowhere near as good as they were in the vaulted ceiling of the Cathedral. It was a great day though, and the throng from Alba came away with the following awards:

Ladies – Atomic Piseag (1st)

Men – Coilich a Chinn a Tuath (1st)

Rural – Coisir Ghaidhlig Mhealbhaich  (1st)

 

Happy Conductors and Gaelic Tutors

 
 
Atomic Piseag also won the supreme award, being the best choir of the festival, which was amazing!!!


The Scottish Night at the Sevenoaks Hotel was always going to be a fantastic evening of fun, fab singing, and funky ceilidh dancing, but I don’t think any of us realised just how good a night it would be. It was certainly my favourite evening of the whole week.

The highlights of the evening for me included a mental Orcadian Strip the Willow, and Thurso Pipe Band playing in the hall!! The Scots were on good form, and perhaps were in a wee bit of a mischievous mood when the band announced that we were to take our partners for the Orcadian Strip the Willow. ;-) There was a large Welsh representation at our night, and we possibly sent off couples down the line just a wee bitty too close together.  This resulted in folk losing their dancing partner, folk crumpled in a dizzy mess on the floor, folk not knowing where they were meant to go next, and one young Welsh lad, upon finding himself partnerless halfway down the dreel, busting out fantastic dance moves for our amusement……… just a normal Ceilidh then….. ha ha

Thurso Pipe Band playing towards the end of the night was great too. I had to wonder when I was watching them how on earth they managed to play so well, after having more than a few wee drams!

Coilich a Chinn a Tuath


On Sunday we had to endure the 12 hour journey back to Caithness. What a great week. Good craic, and fab singing – what more could you want.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail 2012 ann an Dun Omhain (2012 Royal National Mod at Dunoon)

Melvich Gaelic Choir have just been at the Royal National Mòd, which took place in Dunoon from the 12th -20th October. The week saw mixed fortunes with some outstanding individual performances. The choir itself placed 5th in the Rural Choirs Puirt-a-beul, and 4th in the Lorn Shield comp. Despite this, a fantastic week was had by all, topped off by Robert Robertson winning the Men's Silver Pendant, Cairistìona Stone winning the Ladies Traditional Gold Medal, and Coilich a Chinn a Tuath (joint male choir with Lairg) winning the Men's Choral Singing comp. Click here for a full list of the Mod Results, and see below for a list of Melvich's results (where known), as well as the highlights of the week from some members of the choir.

Mary Lamont Traditional Gold Medal Final
Christine Stone 1st

Silver Pendant Final
Robert Robertson 1st

Choral Singing Men
Coilich a' Chinn a Tuath 1st

Rural Choirs - The Lorn Shield
Còisir Ghàidhlig Mhealbhaich 4th

Rural Puirt-a-Beul
Còisir Ghàidhlig Mhealbhaich 5th

Traditional Qualifying (Men)
Neil MacRitchie
Raymond Bremner

Puirt-a-Beul Solo
Raymond Bremner 4th

Qualifying Competition for Gold Medal (Men)
Alasdair Gray 4th
Colin George Morrison

Solo Singing -Skye or Sutherland Song
Mikie Henderson

Singing in Tradition Style (Girls 16-18yrs)
Rebecca MacDonald 2nd

Traditional Learners
Celia McDougall 3rd

Duet Singing
Celia McDougall and Juliane Lingner
Raymond Bremner and Riona Whyte

 

Cairistìona with her awards for her Trad success
 
 
Finding a family in Dunoon
By Roy Kirk

This was my fist year with the Melvich Gaelic Choir. It was also my first time at the Royal National Mod. It has been a year of learning, finding confidence and a rich journey in finding a family.

This was the culmination of over 9 months of practise with the Melvich Gaelic Choir. Further practise both with the Men’s Choir (the Cocks of the North) ensured that any latent musical talent and Gaelic expertise was suitably stretched. It was therefore with some trepidation that I made my way over on the ferry from Gourock on a sunny Monday evening with my wife Elizabeth.

We arrived to a warm welcome as soon as we crossed the entrance to Hafton Castle. The main living room was obviously the focus point for a group of well relaxed members soaking up the atmosphere. I asked about room keys and was told there are no room keys. It is a great reflexion of the trust and support of the group that it was taken as granted that we were all in this together. It became evident that in the provision of food, cooking and cleaning there was a feeling of everyone pitching in.

We soon settled in and listened to some of our individual participants practising. There is something special about singing without musical accompaniment. There were a range of young voices both male and female and other more experienced voices. All of it created a great atmosphere. We were also able to go along and support some of the group as they performed in their contests.

Our practising continued both for the Melvich and male choirs. There was some edge but again I was impressed with the feeling that we were all in this together. It struck me then and grew as the week progressed that the feeling was one of a real dynamic family group. No-one was too pushy and all were willing to talk and discuss whatever subject you cared to raise. As the choir performances approached there was some tension in that we all wanted to give of our best. I think there was a general feeling that as long as our conductor (young Raymond) felt we had given of our best we would have acquitted ourselves well.

Thursday morning came and it was an early start with a practise at 8:00 am before heading into town to perform our first piece. It is a strange feeling walking in with the choir. It made me feel both proud and humbled to be there and happy to be experiencing this with this group of people. Happy with our first performance (surely the adjudicators mistook our marks!). We returned to resume the practise for the afternoon session for the two more difficult pieces. The rehearsal of both pieces in the room in the primary school was good and finally going on stage at the Queen’s hall was upon us. I felt we did our best but there is no doubt that in such a big hall it is difficult to make the song carry. It was good to hear some of the other songs. There is also a special feeling when the audience sings some marvellous Gaelic songs.

We recovered to Hafton and after a short break the men were practising again. We were all a bit nervous on the set piece (there is a particularly interesting bass line). Graham was particularly helpful in joining the Three Basses (from Melvich).

Friday morning saw us back up at the primary school practising. We were on last and it was nerve wracking waiting to go into the High Kirk. It did come together on the day and both the set piece and our own choice went really well. When we heard the marks we were delighted that not only had we won but with a very high music mark. It seemed a fitting culmination of the MOD that we got to sign these pieces at the televised evening concert. These remain great experiences and ones to savour with a group of people that demonstrated that family is all around us and the depth of goodness in human nature is just waiting to be tapped.

We needed to leave early on the Saturday and missed the massed choirs. I know that this would have also been a great experience. I look forward to doing it all again next year and enjoying the wonderful experience of the company of friends.

 
Dunoon 2012
by Juliane Lingner

A week ago I was standing in Dunoon singing along with the massed choirs - the sun shining down on us.
 
My second National Mod. Neither a complete newbie anymore, nor a veteran -yet.

Singing a duet in competition was ... something else. Being so much more exposed than in the choir. Not enough voices to hide any mistakes or nervous quavers... But very satisfying to be able to say: we did it, we got through the whole song and we did well. I sincerely thank my 'partner in crime' for doing the nudging that was needed to make me go up on that stage. It is an experience I will not forget.
 
As a foreigner I know how difficult it is to keep two languages alive day to day. Nice to think that I do my tiny little bit to keep Gaelic on the go. It is a beautiful language that sits so well with the landscape and the people.
 
But the real reason I will go back again (and again) is that there simply is nothing that compares to singing in a large group.Voices blending together, creating an image, weaving a tapestry of sound that goes beyond words or languages.
 
See you next year!

 
Coilich a' chinn a tuath. Sgiath Mhuile agus Idhe.
By Ed Boyter
 
Coilich a' chinn a tuath competed at the Royal National Mod in Dunoon this year, in the mens choral singing competition, the prize being the Mull and Iona Shield. For those who don't know, Coilich a' chinn a tuath (Cocks of the North) is a choir consisting of men from the Melvich and Lairg Gaelic choirs. Seventeen of us sang in this years competition.

So, there we were, 9am practice before competition in the High Kirk. At that point not one of us had any expectation of success, although we were as relaxed as could be expected. Whilst waiting for our turn to go before the judges some of us even played a bit of football (booted a ball around a gym, really). I suppose it gave us a few moments of abandon. There had been so much thought and effort leading to this. All of those journeys to Helmsdale to practice in the hall of antlers, the great many hours of learning by the Melvich and Lairg men, had brought us here to the point of performance. Then it was time ...

We lined up and sang. Firstly the competition set piece, Tuireadh nan Treun (Lament for the Brave). This was a very challenging piece that we were really put to the test with, but there, on the day it came together wonderfully. Everything connected perfectly around a very sensitive and delicate setting. It was a piece that left us very exposed, but we held it well. I could tell by the reaction of the audience, a deep sigh followed immediately by strong applause, that the rendition was good. Next was the song of our own choice, Am Ministear 's am Bàillidh (The minister and the Baillie). The song had been suggested by Raymond, and it was well suggested as it felt every bit perfect in contrast to the slow tearful lament that was the set piece. Johns conducting gave the song more dynamics than had ever been applied in practice, but it was working. The choir was attentive to detail and tight in delivery. A strong finish to the song was met by a very positive reaction from the audience. We had been the last choir to sing, so we took our seats and awaited the results.

After a long wait the adjudicators gave their comments, amongst which there were hints that we had got something right. Anticipation was running high. Then the moment of truth ... the results ... 354, 360, 351, 365, 366, then a big score, Glasgow Gaelic musical Association 371. The next few seconds felt like minutes ... Coilich a' chinn a tuath ... Gaelic 184, Music 190. It took a long second for it to compute ... 374. A great cheer arose from our corner of the kirk. We had won!!! The Mull and Iona Shield is in the keeping of Coilich a' chinn a tuath for the second consecutive year. In addition, we won both the Cor Meibion Bro Glyndwr Trophy and Martin MacKay Memorial Prize for the highest marks in music. Our conductor, John, was presented with the Hector Russel Dirk. All in all an excellent result.
 
 
Coilich a Chinn a Tuath with their awards
 
 
In the evening we performed our songs at the televised winners concert in the Queens Hall. We were lucky enough to share a practice room with the winners of the womens choral competition, Atòmaig Pìseag, and we got to hear them sing their songs at very close quarters (we were crammed in there like sardines!). Our concert performance was very different to that of the day ... all the instalations, lighting, television cameras, and Mary Ann Kennedy announcing. Our performance was fair enough. I just wish that it had been the days rendition which had been filmed, as that was something quite special.
 
We were all delighted. I still am. It's nice to win a prize, but better to experience the camaraderie that is borne of a choir of great folk, the amazing music that is learned, and the connection to the deep culture which it sprouts from. It is that which is most valuable.
 
 
The Ramblings of a Mòd Veteran
By Pat Kieran

From a Moder of ten years standing this was the most gelling of all for MGC. Everyone who could do summat did do it turning it into a week long food music poetry storytelling firelighting ceilidh. All ages and abilities mixed and bounced off each other.
 
We melted into a big family and the younger ones could express themselves in their own way and the older ones could spag or read.
 
Much of the natural flow of the week was made possible by all the unique spaces of Hafton Castle.
 
It allowed the chefs to be chefs the singers to be singers and one or two of the members to demonstrate the advantages of a depraved childhood at the snooker and table football tables. All at the same time!! If only we could find a Hafton for every Mod.
 
But the musical highlight for me was reducing a good proportion of the assembled congregation to floods with our delivery of John's sensitive interpretation of the mens' set piece. When we stopped singing and the church erupted I wondered how our own groupies were making so much noise. But to get the highest choir music mark ever!
 
I felt really happy for John as he was SO nervous. Thanks John and keep on doing it. Here's to the hat trick!