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There is significantly more silverware in Kintyre now than there was last week after the area’s top young musicians and dancers returned home from two national competitions laden with trophies.
Kintyre Schools Pipe Band (KSPB) and James McCorkindale’s School of Dancing were triumphant at Cowal Highland Gathering, while Campbeltown Brass was victorious at the West of Scotland Brass Band Association’s Entertainment Contest.
Cowal Highland Gathering, held in Dunoon since 1894, is one of the oldest and largest Highland games in the world, with about 23,000 people normally visiting across the two-day event.
KSPB played in two separate competitions – in its grade, Novice B/4B, and in Novice B/4A, a grade up.
The band’s first performance was in the Novice/4A grade where both Novice B and Grade 4A bands compete, so it was classed as a grade higher for the school band.
The band was judged by piping adjudicators G Lawrie BEM and T Brown, while A Hepburn adjudicated drumming, and the ensemble adjudicator was J Campbell.
The band performed a March, Strathspey and Reel of King George Army, Caledonian Canal and Lexy McAskill. It was apparent afterwards that the tutors and players were not overjoyed with their performance but the band scored 17 and placed fourth, which was a pleasing result given that the performance was not to the usual standard.
The band was on again at noon, this time playing at its own grade of Novice B/4B. The judges were P Snaddon QVRM, A Kerr, J Baxter, and P Turner.
The band played Sweet Maid of Glendaruel, Greenwood Side, 79th Farewell to Aberdeen and Campbells Farewell to Redcastle. This performance was much improved on the previous one and the result reflected this, with the band placing in first position, making the musicians Cowal champions in their grade. To round off the ‘perfect’ day, KSPB was also judged to be smartest band on parade!
Nine members of James McCorkindale’s School of Dancing also proved to be Cowal champions after winning various Highland Dancing competitions and making it the school’s most successful Cowal Highland Gathering to date.
Linzi Cameron won the Islay Trophy for first place in the Argyll Championship, adult section; Solana McMurchy won the DA Martin Memorial Cup for first place in the Argyll Championship, 12 and 13 years; Taylor McMillan won the Gerald and Mary Simmons Memorial Trophy for first place in Intermediate, 13 years and under; Korri McMillan won the Isa and Duncan Lauder Memorial Trophy for first place in Novice, nine years and under; Emma Johnston won the Corrigal Black Trophy for first place in Beginners, eight years and under; Emma Millar won the Christina McGeachy Trophy for second place in Novice, 10 to 13 years; Ellie Gorman won the Achamore Shield for second place in Novice, nine years and under; Sophie Galbraith won the Bincow Cup for third place in the Argyll Championship, 11 years and under; and Lisa McKellar won the JoAnne McGeachy Trophy for fourth place in the Argyll Championship, 14 and 15 years.
James McCorkindale told the Courier: ‘Last year we got our best ever Cowal result when we won six trophies, so winning nine on Saturday was a fantastic feeling!’
The same day at a different venue – across the water in Troon – Campbeltown Brass was crowned the best First Section band at the West of Scotland Entertainment Contest which had a Burns theme.
As it was an entertainment contest the band opened with The Theme from the Muppet’s Show, and continued by featuring solo horn player Amy Paterson in the beautiful arrangement of Hushabye Mountain. Eleanor Rigby, arranged by Alan Fernie, was next on the programme, followed by a stunning arrangement of Ay Waukin O by Jamie McVicar. The band concluded its programme with the uprising arrangement of American Trilogy.
Not only did the band win its section, but it also came second overall, beating two championship bands!
The adjudicator was John Doyle, one of the UK’s leading performers on the cornet and flugelhorn, who is in great demand around the world as a soloist, conductor, adjudicator and educator.
Conductor Stephanie Mitchell told the Courier: ‘It was an absolute pleasure and honour to stand in front of the band and put on such a musical and entertaining performance – all our hard work over the past few months has definitely paid off. I would like to say thank you to parents who take their children to band and pick them up every week, to all the people behind the scenes who help in sorting out all the music and travel arrangements, and members of the local community for all their support.’
This was the last competition for five of the band members – Amy Paterson, Hannah Oman, Rebecca Semple, Suen Yee Walker and Ali Cupples.
Ms Mitchell added: ‘I would like to take this opportunity to wish them all the very best in the future – they have all been huge assets to the band and will be sincerely missed.’
See inside for photographs of the prize-winning dancers.