Mid Argyll festival success as Fiona takes a bow

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A hugely successful 40th anniversary Mid Argyll Music Festival drew to a close on something of a bittersweet note.

The week of music and song had provided a platform for young – and not so young – to perform, with some excellent vocal performances and musicianship.

At the final evening on Saturday March 23 there was, however, a touch of sadness as festival chairman Martin Gorringe paid tribute Fiona MacDonald, who is stepping down after 25 years service to the festival.

In excess of 550 performers took part in this year’s festival, from as far away as Islay, Oban, Campbeltown, Dunoon and Glasgow.

Audiences enjoyed competitions in poetry, song and instrumental classes, including solo, choral, ensemble and band events. Non-competitive classes gave younger children a chance to perform.

And there was the mid-festival colour, fun and excitement of Wednesday night’s Songs from the Shows, which proves a family favourite year after year.

Woodwind, string, brass and ensemble contests rounded off the week, along with chanter and bagpipe classes.

Making the tough decisions all week were adjudicators Ann Lampard, Christina Thomson, Stewart Fyffe, Raibeart McCallum, Ian Hurst and Anne Curnyn.

The concluding evening saw the major awards handed out. The Highland Year of Culture Award for the highest mark in solo woodwind went to Rowan MacDonald for her bassoon rendition of ‘Easy Tiger’ in Friday’s woodwind solo, primary, competition.

The Co-operative Membership Cup for the highest mark in solo brass was given to Kintyre’s Jamie Colville.

Ann McMillan won the Munro Memorial Salver for the highest vocal solo mark, excluding Gaelic, while the Annabel MacDonald Memorial Quaich for the highest mark in Gaelic solo singing went to Shona Keith.

Campbeltown Brass secured the Gifford Bowl for the highest mark by a choir or band.

The most prestigious award, the Co-operative Premier Festival Award, is chosen by the adjudicators from all of the performances they have heard throughout the week and this year’s winner was Rhona Love from Ardrishaig.

Martin Gorringe was delighted with the way the event had gone and said of Fiona MacDonald: ‘It was Fiona’s last time as festival co-ordinator. She has been part of the committee for 25 years and was responsible for setting up Mid Argyll Youth Chorus and the group B Natural. She has always been passionate about music and will be missed.’

He went on to congratulate Rhona Love, adding: ‘Rhona has certainly gained poise over the years she has been participating and her voice has developed.’

Mr Gorringe concluded: ‘The festival will celebrate its 40th anniversary on Saturday June 8 in Ardrishaig Public Hall, where performers from across the years will be invited to entertain.’