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Islay Success at National Mòd

Having learned of the successes of Port Ellen and Bowmore primary schools choirs and individuals in their junior competitions and of Ruaraidh MacKinnon of Port Wemyss and Kirsten Laurie who sang in solo competitions earlier in the week, Còisir Ghàidhlig Ìle had plenty to live up to as we began our 2008 National Mòd competitions. Còisir Ghàidhlig Ìle, Islay’s Gaelic choir of thirty members strong, revived Islay’s Gaelic choral tradition in January 2007 under the baton of conductor Iseabail Mactaggart of Islay. The re-formed choir has attracted members of the former Port Ellen Gaelic Choir plus new members, some of whom are learners new to singing in Gaelic, and the choir has been developing as an increasingly exciting and accomplished musical entity.

We traveled to Falkirk by bus on Wednesday, complete with Fay and David of Caledonian TV who had been filming the choir at practices in Bowmore throughout the winter and were with us throughout our Mod competitions. The choir had a late evening practice in the hotel, then on Thursday morning headed for our first competitions. Continue reading....The prescribed Puirt-a-beul, strathspey ‘Tha Bainn’ aig na Caoraich Uile’ and reel ‘Bodachan a’ Ghàrraidh’ came first, where there were ten choirs competing. The Islay choir sang well, but didn’t finish in the top three. Immediately we rushed off to the next venue for the Ladies Choir Open competition, singing three-part set piece ‘Maraiche nan Cuantan’ arranged by Kenny Thomson, then own choice ‘Gura Mise tha fo Mhulad’, a waulking song arranged by Alexandra Jones in four parts with sometimes more! The Ladies really sang, giving it all, and were rewarded with first place, coming top over ten Ladies sections from the best mixed choirs in the country. But we didn’t know that yet… After a quick rehearsal, our third competition on Thursday was the mixed voice Rural Choirs for the Sheriff MacMaster Campbell Memorial Quaich, performing set piece ‘Oran don Eideadh Ghaidhealach’, a song which celebrates the repeal of laws banning wearing the kilt and other expressions of Gaelic culture, and Own Choice ‘Cumha Iain Ghairbh’, a complex and deeply moving choral piece, a lament for Iain MacLeod of Raasay on his accidental drowning in 1671, believed to have been composed by his sister, musical arrangement by Anne Macdearmid.

The full choir really gave these songs all the care, emotion and concentration possible, and we were placed second to Taynuilt Gaelic choir. Just after the mixed choir’s performance was completed, Mod steward Fiona Bell of Bowmore came through into the holding area to let us know that the Ladies Choir had won their competition. The excitement and amazement was tremendous, as some of the other Ladies Choirs had been heard practicing and we really had beaten Gaeldom’s best! As prizewinners we were then invited to sing at the televised Rural Choirs Concert in Falkirk Town Hall on Thursday evening. So it was back to the hotel, a meal and quick turn-around, off this time to the Falkirk Town Hall. The buzz and excitement kept us all going, and the Islay choir’s men came to cheer us on. The Ladies sang really well in the Concert, too, and it was televised that same evening.

The Open Men’s choral competition was on Friday morning, and the men went for a final practice while the ladies could now relax! The Men’s Choir sang set piece ‘Nach Gòrach mi gad Chaoineadh’ and then their Own Choice. Seven men’s choirs competed, one having withdrawn on the day. The Islay men sang in competition with strong male voice sections of the major Gaelic choirs, and did well to place fourth. Friday afternoon was free for the inevitable shopping, then most of the choir went back to Falkirk Town Hall to listen to the famous Lovat and Tullibardine Shield competition, where the large town and area choirs contend for the premier prize in Gaelic choral singing. A large helping of musical education is to be gained from listening to these major choirs. Back to the hotel with all the competitions finished, time for a meal and plenty of discussion. What went well, what didn’t go quite as planned, and big, big thank yous to Iseabail Mactaggart, conductor, Robert Forrest, Gaelic reader, the choir’s hardworking committee led by President Iain MacPherson, Secretary Philip Maxwell, Treasurer Carole-Ann Jackson and the section representatives, who together made Còisir Ghàidhlig Ìle’s trip to the National Mòd happen. ‘All’ the rest of us had to do was to turn up and sing! So there was great craic and lots of singing in the hotel that evening, and we all enjoyed ourselves hugely. A great National Mòd 2008 for Islay. Opening on the 13th As Fear an Taighe John Carmichael of Islay said: “If this gives us an idea of the calibre we can expect for the rest of the week, we’re in for a humdinger of a Mod.”

PIPING: C85 Chanter (under 13) 1. Rona NicNeacail, Portrigh. 2. Alasdair Rankin, Bun-sgoil a’ Phluic. 3. Alasdair Currie, Islay.

ORAL (LEARNERS): C49 (9-10) (Cowal Trophy) 1. Natalie Dunn, Bowmore Primary School. 2. Laura Woodrow, Bowmore Primary School. 3. William Iain MacSween, Royal School of Dunkeld.
C26A (7-8) (Falkirk Rotary Club Trophy) 1. Emily Robertson, Bun-sgoil Chondobhrait. 2. Ryan Johnston, Bowmore Primary School. 3. Jessica Muir, Bun-sgoil Chondobhrait.

CHORAL (LEARNERS): C78 Puirt-a-beul (under 13) (Olive Campbell Trophy) 1. Port Ellen Primary School Choir. 2. Coisir Og Lochabair. 3. Coisir Og Thobar-Mhoire.
C03 Unison (Rural Primaries) (Badenoch and Strathspey Area Committee Trophy) 1. Port Ellen Primary School Choir. 2. Bowmore Primary Gaelic Choir. 3. Coisir Ath-Tharracaill.

VOCAL SOLOS (LEARNERS): C103 Boys (13-15) (James C. MacPhee Memorial Medal) 1. Robert Robertson, Ard-sgoil Loch Abair. 2. Ruaraidh MacKinnon, Islay.
C52A Boys (11-12) 1. Alasdair Currie, Islay. 2. Kevin Cameron, Coisir Og Lochabair. 3. Jonathan Campbell, Sir E Scott School.
C79 (under 13) (Angus MacTavish Memorial Trophy) 1. Emma MacFarlane and Niamh Heggarty, Tarbert Academy. 2. Kevin Cameron & Ronan Cameron, Coisir Og Lochabair. 3. Hannah Gillies & Laura Woodrow, Bowmore Primary School.

VOCAL SOLOS: A250 Learners (women) (Margot Campbell Trophy) 1. Kirsten Laurie, Islay. 2. Linn Phipps, Lewis. 3. Jackie Cotter, Edinburgh. 4th equal. Ellen L. Beard, US. Rena Gertz, Edinburgh.
A252 Working Song (Catherine M.B. Dunlop Quaich) 1. Linn Phipps, Lewis. 2. Kirsten Laurie, Islay. 3. Ellen L. Beard, US. 4. Sandra Kennedy, St Andrews.
SS254 Silver Pendant Final (learners) Women 1. Linn Phipps, Lewis. 2. Kirsten Laurie, Islay. 3. Ellen L. Beard, US. 4. Jackie Cotter, Edinburgh. Men 1. Donald R. MacIver, Poolewe. 2. Iain Gordon, Nairn. 3. Stuart Jackson, Argyll.
We learned that Kirsten Laurie, after excellent Music and Gaelic results, was just pipped at the post by Linn Phipps for the Silver Pendant. Kirsten and Linn finished the competition as equal first, but the adjudicators decided that Ms Phipps’ Gaelic was slightly in advance of Kirsten’s and so Linn was awarded the medal. A huge ‘well done’ to Kirsten.
Morag Robb Memorial Salver for Gaelic – Linn Phipps, Lewis.

RURAL CHOIRS: A303 Sheriff MacMaster Campbell Memorial Quaich 1. Coisir Ghaidhlig Thaigh an Uillt. 2. Coisir Ghaidhlig Ile. 3. Coisir Ghaidhlig Tairbeart Loch Fìn.
Ghaidhlig Ile. 2. Coisir Sgir a’ Bhac. 3. Coisir Ghaidhlig an Eilein Mhuilich.
Angus MacTavish Memorial Trophy for Gaelic – Coisir Ghaidhlig Ile. Ladies Còisir Ghàidhlig Ìle were also awarded the Hugh MacCowan trophy for the highest aggregate Gaelic marks amongst the Argyll choirs, with points accumulated through the choir’s four National Mòd competitions. This is the second consecutive year that Còisir Ghàidhlig Ìle has won this trophy, which speaks volumes about the dedication of our excellent Gaelic reader and tutor, Robert Forrest. It also rewards the effort of choir members, especially reflecting the work put in by the many Gaelic learners in the choir.
A306 Puirt-a-beul (Aline MacKenzie Memorial Trophy) 1. Coisir Ghaidhlig Tairbeart Loch Fin. 2. Lochs Gaelic Choir 3. Coisir Ghaidhlig Thaigh an Uillt.
A307 Choral Singing (Mull and Iona Shield) Mens Open 1. Coisir Ceann an Tuirc 2.Glasgow Gaelic Musical Association 3. Dingwall 4.Coisir Ghaidhlig Ile
Sheriff MacMaster Campbell Memorial Quaich for Rural Choirs: Còisir Ghàidhlig Ìle came 2nd out of 5 choirs

This story was written by Susan Campbell and published with kind permission of the Ileach local newspaper.

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