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Artyness columnist and musician Liza Mulholland highlights Inverness Music Festival's centenary in 2022

By Margaret Chrystall

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A centenary is always such an important milestone to mark in any field or organisation but when it is a community music festival, it is an extra special achievement to be celebrated, congratulated, and hailed as a unique success story.

Liza Mulholland
Liza Mulholland

I am talking of course about Inverness Music Festival, which turns 100 in 2022, and will, by all accounts, be back with a bang in its centenary year with a host of special events, new classes, 1920s themed performances, and much more.

The festival’s motto is Performance For Everyone, and one look at the syllabus for 2022 confirms there is absolutely something for all ages and stages, adults and children, both competitive and non-competitive, in a wide range of arts, including poetry, drama, dance, visual art, as well as instrumental music and song. Highland dancing also sees a comeback, its first inclusion since 1976.

After this year’s virtual festival, 2022 will be a blended event, with both live and online performances, and sees a move to the new venue of Merkinch Community Centre. It feels like the festival centenary is going to be a fresh festive occasion fit to launch the next hundred years!

What makes it all the more remarkable is that the association which runs the festival is comprised of volunteers. I know from my own experience on committees that organisations run by volunteers often go in cycles; commitments and domestic responsibilities change, life events impact and there is a natural turnover of committee members.

There is also burn-out, so keeping an organisation going for one hundred years is simply astonishing and huge congratulations are due to all currently involved for continuing to carry the baton into the next chapter of the festival’s life.

The Inverness Music Festival syllabus is out.
The Inverness Music Festival syllabus is out.

I confess Inverness Music Festival holds a special place in my heart as it was the first place I got up onto a stage and performed. The competition was solo singing, I was five years old and, such was the impression of the whole experience on me, that the words and tune of that little song remain imprinted on my brain.

The following year I also competed in singing and thereafter annually took part in the piano competitions. I’ll never forget a school friend arriving at our door in Farr to tell me I had to play that night in the festival concert in the newly-opened Eden Court Theatre.

I had won my competition that day, but we had no phone and organisers had no way of letting me know I was included in the winners’ concert.

My friend’s mum kindly passed on the news and I duly made it – an unforgettable experience for a 16-year-old, and no time for nerves!

To join in 2022 Music Festival fun, please check out the syllabus online, but don’t delay.

Entries must be in by December 17: invernessmusicfestival.org

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