Young Highland musicians shine on stage

Opening the Festival, the Highland Regional Youth Orchestra conducted by Jean-Claude Picard (Assistant Conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra), gave stunning performances of excerpts from Bizet’s Carmen Suites and Rimsky Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol.  Jean-Claude’s subtle control of the orchestra enabled the performance to sound incredibly musical, secure, assured and confident.

The Festival continued with the Gaelic choir, Còisir G who, as we have come to expect, delivered a varied programme in traditional style but with a 21st century twist in both harmonies and presentation. Còisir G was then joined for two numbers by Highland Youth Choir.  The joint pieces saw members of the audience visibly moved by the clarity of sound and musicianship shown.  Highland Youth Choir then completed their section of the day with beautifully crafted arrangements sung with great confidence.

The Highland Youth Big Band under the leadership of Rob Farmer got the audiences feet tapping with their tight swing band sound featuring a couple of strong vocal numbers from Alice Burgoyne from Golspie. Solos from members of the band were confident and the overall sound was assured and stylish.

Next to take to the stage was the Highland Youth String Orchestra conducted by Rick Lusher.  Their performance had the audience spellbound as they tackled their programme in a very confident manner given the young age of many of the players.  The sound was secure and in many places lyrical.  Following the HYSO performance, the traditional music group `snas also proved that they can hold their audience and perform their precise and vibrant sets with style, and confidence beyond their years - leaving the audience cheering their support.  In yet another programme twist, ‘snas were joined in a set by a small group of pipers and drummers from Highland Youth Pipe Band.  The full HYPB were next on the days programme and also added a few 21 century twists to their sets and a great programme balance between full band and drum corps.

Responsibility for closing this event fell to the Highland Schools Wind Band with conductor Mark Reynolds. They performed an ambitious programme which enchanted the audience with its musical detail and finesse.  The band produces a rich and vibrant sound, yet can transfix the audience when necessary with gentle, precise and musical playing.

The eight Highland Young Musicians groups are organised and run by The Highland Council as an extension to the work of the Instrumental Tuition Service across Highland.  Membership for all groups is by invitation after an annual Audition Day.  The musicians in this year’s groups range in age from 6 years to 18 years. 

Commenting on the days event, The Highland Council’s Music Development Officer, Norman Bolton said: “Continued investment in the additional musical opportunities available to young people in Highland Schools enables the Highland Young Musicians groups to produce performances of which we can all be rightly proud.  The level of commitment from members, staff and their families is incredibly high and I am very proud to be able to work with these groups and ensure that their reputation for excellent music-making grows in Highland and beyond.”

The Council’s Director of Education, Culture and Sport, Hugh Fraser congratulated all the young musicians.  He said:  “I’d like to thank all the young people and their instructors for their hard work and commitment over the year to make today such a resounding success.  The Festival has given the performers a great opportunity to entertain and demonstrate their musical skills whilst assuring the audiences that youth music-making in Highland is flourishing and developing at the highest levels.”

More information about Highland Young Musicians activities can be found at:


11 Mar 2014
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