Over 150 young musicians from the length and breadth of the Western Isles will be in Stornoway on Saturday (February 16th) for the most hotly contested music competition of the year.

The competition has been running for 25 years, offering young classical musicians the chance to showcase their talent and hard work, with a chance of winning the coveted title of Western Isles Young Musician of the Year.

Supported by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Rotary Club of Stornoway, the competition is organised by a committee that includes voluntary music enthusiasts including chairman Gavin Woods and vice-chair Calum Watt.

Calum said: “We want to give young children learning classical music a platform to perform. There is the Mòd every year, of course, but children playing instruments such as oboe, clarinet and violin (as opposed to fiddle) don’t get the same chances to compete.”

The competition- with 2018 Grand Final above – is rigorously run, with two adjudicators coming over from the mainland to judge every single performance. This year they will be Wendy Ritchie, who is brass instructor and co-ordinator of performance and instrumental
music at Gordonstoun School in Moray and an experienced tutor, coach and judge, and conductor and organist Michael Bawtree, who has has directed the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra among many other senior roles.

Heats start at 9.30am on Saturday at Stornoway Primary School and are divided into three age-groups – primary (P1-7), junior (S1-3) and senior (S4-6). In each age-group the competitors play in groups according to instrument and more than 25 medals will be awarded to winners and runners-up.

There are two innovations this year. For the first time there’s to be a piping competition, judged by Euan Cowan of Lewis Pipe Band, with the heats conducted at the Nicolson Institute. And, for only the second year, singers get their own competition, with a Western Isles young singer of the year also awarded a prize.

All the winners will then be invited to the grand final in the evening at Lews Castle – Natural Retreats is another competition supporter. Judges will then select the young musician of the year from each age-group and the overall winner, as well as young singer of the year.

Calum, who will be master of ceremonies throughout competition day and at the evening event, said: “The grand final at the Castle is open to all and will offer a fine chance to see and hear some of our excellent young musicians. Trophies will be presented and it will be a great occasion.”

The grand final starts at 7pm on Saturday February 16th, in Lews Castle ballroom with entry at £5, children free.