Well! I had a great few days at the Royal National Mòd in Caithness, right up on the north coast of Scotland. The Mòd is like a Welsh Eisteddfod, a festival of music, song, recitation, poetry…. in Gaelic rather than Welsh! There are competitions, cups, shields and other awards to be won, by children and adults, soloists, duettists, quartettists – there must be such a word – choirs, folk bands…..
This year, Caithness was hosting the Mòd, and events took place in Wick for the first part of the week and Thurso (right) for the rest.
The competitions take the form of concerts that anyone can buy a ticket to go in and listen to, the only difference being that there are adjudicators marking the performances for proficiency in the Gaelic language, the music, etc, and you may hear the same song sung by each choir if there is a prescribed song for the competition.
These are the Taynuilt Ladies Choir, with Joy Dunlop, the tall one on the left. I mentioned going to one of her concerts last time I was in Kintyre at Linda’s. What a voice she has! She won lots of solo competitions! You can maybe hear her on BBC iplayer, BBC Alba.
As well as the main competition programme there was also a fringe programme with additional non competitive events , and of course the social side involved being where there was music going on, and that meant the pubs! They were full of choir members, visitors, as well as locals all out to have a good time. If we sang Sìne Bhàn (Sheena Vaan, Fair haired Sheena) once, we sang it a dozen times, along with other favourites and of course our competition songs!
Neil and Hilary were there with the Tarbert Loch Fyne Choir so it was good to catch up with them and a few of their choir members who I’ve met before. It seems everyone knows everyone else, so I was introduced to this person and that, which was nice, though whether we remember each others’ names or faces next year, remains to be seen! You know what it’s like!
came down to the lovely church of St Peter and St Andrews to hear another full choir competition. On the left is is the Tarbert choir conducted by Hilary, with Neil singing somewhere on the right .
Friday was our day, beginning with the Puirt a Beul first thing in the morning. In the afternoon it was our turn to stand in front of the famous logo on the stage in the Games Hall as we competed for the Lovat and Tullibardine Shield! Glasgow Gaelic Choir - the GGs – won it, plus all the other prizes, it seemed – for music and Gaelic - hands down! We on the other hand, didn’t do that well, only coming joint 7th with Aberdeen Gaelic Choir. I won’t tell you how many choirs were in for the competition. Och well, Jackie, our conductor, reckons we did all she had asked us to do and a little bit more! That was kind of her!
into the centre of Thurso. The winners were in front led by the local pipe band, and the rest of us accompanied by two other bands at regular intervals throughout the parade. The streets were lined with people who had come out to watch. Little children hoisted onto dads’ shoulders, were looking on bemused. Shop keepers, including the local butcher with his hands tucked into the bib of his traditional butcher’s apron, came out of their shops, and cameras clicked all the way down the route. People who lived in the houses along the route leaned out of their opened windows and cheered and waved along with the best of them. It was amazing!
Once in the square, we listened to a few amusing and thankfully short speeches from the organiser of the Mòd, Raymond – it had become known as Mòd Raimondo - and one or two others from An Comunn Gàidhealach and then we were invited to sing again,
each song conducted by a winning choir conductor. It must have been a great sound, but as everyone was grouped according to their musical part, we could really only properly hear the others who sang our part – alto, in my case.
Still, it was a great end to a great festival – just a bit sad that so many of us had to leave on the train almost as soon as it all ended. Just to let you know though, there was more singing going on in the train on the way back to Inverness and Edinburgh!
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00vdkkr/Mod_Naiseanta_Rioghail_2010_Episode_5/ This link may only be up for another few days so don’t miss out! This is the final night prize-winners’ concert… lots of choral singing and soloists, younger and older, finishing off with the GGs singing Moladh Beinn Dobhrain, and the song of their own choice, both of which won them the coveted Lovat and Tullibardine Shield. Enjoy!
Talk again soon.