Budding junior musicians, it’s time to get practising – for Isles musical showcase, the Western Isles Young Musician of the Year competition, is making a comeback.

After a five-year break, the competition will run again in February 2018 with a grand finale at Lews Castle.

But that’s not all, for the new competition is accompanied by a brand new contest – the Young Western Isles Singer of the Year - also open to young people from primary age and up.  The final date for entries for both competitions is January 19th, 2018.

Chairman Gavin Woods said that organisers are looking forward to a healthy turnout for the new combination of competitions: “We are delighted to have reconvened the committee for the competition and to have the new Young Singer Element to add to the mix,” he said.  “This competition is intended to encourage youngsters by meeting with peers and seeing their achievements and also to showcase the talent of our local young people."

“February might sound a long way off, but with so many categories on offer for all school ages - and some tough competition expected – the more time the better to fine tune those musical talents!”

The Young Musician of the Year competition, first held in 1992, will take place on February 16th, 2018 with finals on the following day (February 17th) at the newly renovated Lews Castle with its fine acoustics. It is open to any child in primary or secondary school in the Western Isles.

To welcome it back, organisers have prepared its most extensive list of classes yet, as well as the new Young Singer of the Year competition which will run alongside.

The event is being run in association with and supported by Stornoway Rotary Club and CnES Department of Education.

Young Musician and Young Singer competitions both have three age groups: Primary (any child in primary school), Junior (S1 – S3) and Senior (S4 – S6). Solo heats in a range of instruments are held for each age group including brass, piano, singing and woodwind – which includes chanter and bagpipes. There is also a young composer of the year section and Ensemble playing with groups of 2-6 performers on the same instrument.

All entrants prepare one piece of their own choice to play in the preliminary rounds which will be held on the day for Primary and Junior classes but on the preceding Friday afternoon for Senior classes.

The winner of each of the classes competes against the other winners in their section at the evening concert for the Primary/Junior/Senior Western Isles Musician of the Year Trophies.

Senior competitors have to perform an additional piece in the finals.

In addition to the solo Young Musician competition there is also a Primary School Music Group – open to any school, any number of children, any combination of instruments, with or without voice. They are asked to perform one piece lasting no more than 10 minutes. There is also a Composition class – open to anyone of school age. The piece should be the original work of the competitor and be of 3 – 5 minutes duration.

Adjudicators provide constructive feedback to competitors plus any useful hints/tips about performance. The public are encouraged to attend the preliminary rounds for which there is no entry fee.

The finals will be held in the Castle Ballroom and there will be a nominal entry fee.

Winners of each category will compete at an evening concert for the Primary/Junior/Senior Western Isles Musician of the Year Trophies. Overall winners will be able to go forward to The Highland Area Final organised by Rotary District 1010 where winners from local championships around Scotland will compete.

It will take place on 24 February 2018 and the winner of the Senior Western Isles Young Musician of the Year and Young Singer of the Year will be eligible to enter.