Friday, 28 October 2005
Victoria Gaelic Choir (Guth nan Eilean) at the Tall Ships event on June 25th 2005. Picture taken from their website http://members.shaw.ca/ceol/
The below link is a recording of the songs they sang at the first competition, but not as performed on October 21st; this was recorded on February 22nd, 2005.
Much better. http://markreid.org/gaelic/moracheannaich.mp3
These songs first introduced me to Scots Gaelic. The actual scorescontain both Gaelic and English. Although I've since learned that thetranslations can be a bit shaky, they've stuck. At 9 o'clock sharp, wecommence. The ladies are accompanied on the piano, and all is well withno 1, Eilidh Davies, who went on to win. Jackie Cotter, from Edinburgh,was next up and had a breakdown of communication with the accompanist.Result: two stoppages and a ruffled singer. Ann Marie McLean andPauline McCamley went through their pieces without mishap. JillainFaith Thomson was absolutely consumed with nerves. A lump in the throatdoesn't help either, with the result that Tha mi sgith didn't go to well. What a shame. On that note, it was across to the Town Hall for the lady solo singers.
They all had to sing Ghraidh an tig thu. The usual muddle wastaking place, with people not appearing in the order they were billed.Several had withdrawn from competition. Fiona MacKenzie from Dingwallwon. A little after 11, the competition was declared closed, and theadjudicators came to a conclusion. Next item on the morning's agenda:precenting.
If you want to hear what that sounds like, follow this link: http://www.bealheights.org/auto_images/1123797915Psalmcast016.mp3which I took from www.podcast.com. It contains an introduction and is15 minutes long. It also comprises other recordings of precenting fromelsewhere within the Christian church.
There were 3 competitors. The first isn't too bad, but hasdifficulty going over the congregation. A lot of old folk have come inspecially to take part in this. The precentors have to line 2 verses ofa psalm of their choice. Number 2, Torquil MacLeod, an islander, doesvery well. Donald Angus Matheson unfortunately had a spot of bother.Torquil MacLeod wins hands down. Next on the agenda: a jaunt to thesports centre where they are singing in duets. Confusion reignssupreme, as there are several people who have not reported to theorganisers. I sit in on proceedings until I get bored waiting. Returnto Newton, but get picked up by mrs B's eldest son in Island Road. Yep,such a long way to go from there (not). He leaves for Glasgow today,through Tarbert and Skye at 2 pm. At 2.30 I head back into town to jumpon the Mod Shuttlebus which is supposed to take me to the PrimarySchool. Well, the lady in the bus station was very unhelpful and justtold me to accost any Mod official; it's a Mod bus, nothing to do withthe council. No sign of any bus, so I leg it all the way to JamiesonAvenue. Twenty minutes later, I slink into the Assembly Hall to listento a batch of young girls, all singing whilst playing the clarsach, theGaelic harp.
Little Josie Duncan from Laxdale carries off the main prize. A womanstands on the stage, like at all events, but she SHOUTS out theannouncements for the competitions. We're overrunning by about an hour.Standards are quite high. One competition gets shifted to another room,so we get on with a competition in which only one person has entered.Esme Boone has travelled all the way from Northern Ontario in Canada.Unfortunately, her voice outdid the harp, and her performance did notmerit awarding the trophy to her. Ouch. The final session was dedicatedto groups of 3 clarsachan or more. The first group, Na h-Uiruisgean[Waterspouts] made a valiant effort, but why the heck they included afiddle is beyond me. Not a strong performance, but they're yet young.Second was a very creditable performance by the City of Edinburgh MusicSchool, who had 4 harpists out. Finally a group of 14 (yes, fourteen)harpists basically rearranged the hall to be able to fit in. Quitegood, an an unusual combination. They won the competition. Return toNewton at 5.15. to help mrs B serve dinner to our 4 Canadians afterthey return from rehearsal at the Golf Club. This time round they donot stay behind after supper, and I can join mrs B for an evening mealnot long afterwards.
Second song is better, but the voice aren't the strongest part of the group. Next group up is Gleusda + 1. Officially, Gleusda has 4 performers, but a 5th has joined them for the occasion. Very good performance with 2 pieces again. First song is accompanied by a tenor recorder flute, a clarsach and a guitar. I don't know the name of the songs unfortunately. Ceol Chluaidh (Clyde Music) gives a good performance as well, with Iain Blair amongst the group members. Last band but certainly not least was a late entry, Rapad. They gave a Capercaillie-style (and level) puirt-a-beul, for which they were awarded very high marks indeed. I did not stay on for the quartets, as my backside was hurting from sitting in uncomfortable chairs. As it's Thursday, I go to the Baltic for the Thursday papers: Stornoway Gazette, Press and Journal, West Highland Free Press, Hebridean. The weather this week has been very good, sunny and dry, although cool. After lunch, I'm about to set off for the Nicolson when it starts to rain. It doesn't amount to very much. It's very busy in the town this week,more people about than usually. Stornoway is festooned with fairy lights and there are little signs to show where all the venues are. Banners enliven the railings around the town. It's suddenly a nice lively place. Head off down Island Road in a light drizzle, which stops by the time I reach the Nicolson. Two coaches are parked up along Smith Avenue, both from the same company. One carries the Glasgow Islay choir, the other the Govan choir. The afternoon session in the Nicolson Assembly hall deals with the Rural choirs. Others sing at the Town Hall. Here, we have 6 choirs, from: Harris, Lochs, Strathaird (Skye), Melvich (Sutherland), Tong and Back. They all sing Eilean an Fhraoich, in praise of the isle of Lewis. In addition, they sing a song of their own choice. After each song, they patiently wait for the adjudicators to make up their mind. It does drag proceedings out, but: it's a competition. Apart from the prize for the best choir, there are separate prizes for best marks in Gaelic, music and best conductor. In the end, Back choir wins. To give its full title: Coisir Ghaidhlig Sgire a'Bhac. Get your tongue round that! Forgot to mention in Monday's entry (October 17th) that there was a very nice exhibition in the Crush Hall in the Nic. It showcased history in Lochs, Ness and Carloway; CDs, T-shirts were on sale. Mrs B gave me a T-shirt for a present. There were also good learning books for Gaelic, published for Gaelic medium education by Storlann. Keep a quiet evening in - it's been a busy day. And my backside hurts. Just as well mrs B has those comfy chairs.
The first competition sees choirs from Glasgow, Tarbert [Harris], Back, Lionel and Shawbost competing by singing Bat' an Taillear and Cailleach a'Ghobhainn. The organisational nightmares become apparent whe we're kept waiting for a choir to turn up that has had to sing at a different venue elsewhere in the town. One person sits behind a keyboard on a table, for the sole purpose of giving the starting note. Two adjudicators are seated in front of the stage. One of them judges the Gaelic, the other the music. The adjudicators have got the relevant pieces of musical score in front of them. The choisters are all dressed uniformly. The first competition is won by the Sir E Scott School of Tarbert. The musical adjudicator give us a little speech, telling the audience and participants what he was expecting. The Gaelic adjudicator does likewise. She speaks in Gaelic, but gives the marks out in English at popular request. Maletta MacPhail is known to me after project Timbertown. I should point out that the Mod is all about Gaelic culture. As I neither speak nor understand the language, I have to select those competitions where a knowledge of Gaelic is not top of the list of priorities. I.e. I am focusing on music. I still have considerable problems, but just manage to keep abreast of proceedings. In this competition, North Lanark Choir had to withdraw. Well after the official starting time of 3 pm, the second choral competition of the afternoon commences. Participants here are from schools in Back, Tarbert, Lionel and Barvas. They sing Null do dh'Uibhist and 'S cian bho dh'fhag mi Leodhas. Choirs from Glasgow and North Lanark withdrew. At the adjudication, marks out of a 100 are awarded for Gaelic and for music. The aggregate total determines who wins, and for this competition (C73), it's Lionel. Barbara MacKenzie, one of mrs B's nieces, is delighted. The conductor of the Barvas choir pulled a face as he left the stage, but he was 3rd out of 4. In front of me, a boy of 10 is fidgeting and fiddling with the seats. People move back and forth along the rows between performances. At 4.30, proceedings draw to a close and I return to Newton. Mrs B is getting in a flap to get supper ready for the Canadians, but still manages to pull it all off at 7pm. I act as waiter, serving everything onto and off the table. Although I had my supper at a normal hour, the guests remained at their table until 9.30, and mrs B could not eat until 10.20. A fire is lit in the sitting room, and I entertain our foursome with some Gaelic songs on the keyboard. At times, I feel like a pied piper. Mrs B's granddaughter is drawn to my playing, as is her cousin. The Canadians like it. Ann and Gordon retire for the night fairly early, as they have had a long journey. I'm chatting to John and Carmel for quite some time. Bed at midnight.
The big games hall has been filled with hundreds of seats, staging, banners for the Mod and its sponsorts. As well as 4 BBC TV cameras. Before we go in, we meet up with one of mrs B's nephews. Two of his daughters are singing in a duet. We sit beside the windows screening the swimming pool. Then we head into the hall to listen to the duets. I record two of them on my MP3-player. Having done that, we all head back to Newton for lunch. The lassie is disappointed she did not win anything. She had won in the local Glasgow Mod earlier in the year. As compensation, she is allowed to go and stay with her cousins in the family caravan at Reef, Uig. After dinner, I take mrs B up to hear the prize winners' concert in the Sports Centre. As we go out the strains of the pipe band waft on the evening wind, but we can't place it. Turns out they're right outside the sports centre. We go into the packed hall to listen to some remarkable performances by youngsters as young as 5. One little boy goes wildly off key as he has to reach an upper G four times. Some very creditable instrumentalists, such as accordion, melodeon, piano and piper. A 16-year old lad, a cousin of mrs B's, pipes the concert open. He sweeps the board every time he takes part in a competition. One girl of 5 can barely be heard as she goes through her song, but everybody keeps completely quiet. Concert finishes at 9.15. As we head back down Island Road, I have to catch mrs B as she stumbles over an unevenness in the road. No damage done.