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Young Highland musicians pull off impressive performances

Issued: 28 Mar 2007

Three groups of young Highland musicians have recently performed at two venues in the Highlands attracting audiences in excess of 800 people and the commendation of a Scottish composer.

In the performances, the Highland Schools Wind Band, Highland Youth String Orchestra and Highland Regional Youth Orchestra showcased the amount of extremely talented and motivated young musicians being trained in Highland schools.

Strathpeffer's Spa Pavilion played host to a capacity audience for the Wind Band and String Orchestra concert on 17th March. Following the event, a member of the audience wrote: "We were all astounded and open-mouthed at the incredibly high standard of the performances from both the Wind Band and String Orchestra.....they are to be congratulated."

On Saturday 24th March, the Highland Regional Youth Orchestra participated in a unique event at Aviemore's MacDonald Highland Resort Osprey Arena. The performance was the culmination of a joint project with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. The Aviemore venue was chosen to accommodate a 176-strong combined orchestra which occupied half of the available floor space in the Resort's largest auditorium. A new Radio 3 commissioned piece was premiered at this concert, titled, "Fling!" by John MacLeod.

Remarking on the Highland Regional Youth Orchestra, Jennifer Martin, Learning Manager at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra said: "All of us at the SSO were hugely impressed by the commitment, professionalism and the quality of your contribution to the event. The standard of playing was exceptional."

John MacLeod, composer of the new piece expressed his thanks for all the work put into this extraordinary event, he said: "It was one of the most amazing concerts I've ever been to and to hear also the premiere of my new piece - so splendidly played by all - was a wonderful bonus."

Norman Bolton, Highland Council's Music Development Officer added: "There is always an element of risk involved when undertaking such large scale projects and events, but I have such high regard for the commitment and musical abilities of our young Highland musicians that any risk is certainly worth taking. Our regional groups would not be as successful without the full cooperation of staff, members and their families. The difficulties placed on Highland by our unique geography is certainly no barrier to success as these two events have proven."

Members of all Regional Music Groups are chosen by audition from schools throughout the Highlands and meet for occasional weekend rehearsals with the March concerts being the final ones of this session. Most of the members are taught by instructors in Highland Council's Instrumental Instruction scheme.

Highland Youth Big Band and 'snas' (Ceilidh Band) will complete this session's public performances at a supper dance in the Spa Pavilion, Strathpeffer on 21st April. A few tickets are still available for this event by telephoning 01349 868271 in advance.

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Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG IIIB Northern Periphery Programme