Musical entertainment at this summer’s Scottish Traditional Boat Festival will hit a high point when dozens of singers join together to perform in a mass musical tribute to the area’s maritime heritage. Singers of all ages and abilities are being invited to add their voices to The Coastal Choir and perform a series of historic fishing songs to the festival crowds.
It is the first time that the Festival organisers have tried to pull off such an ambitious project, but they are confident that singers will have fun and give a great performance. The Coastal Choir will be tutored by voice professional and traditional singer Christine Kydd, who has spawned many choirs in Scotland and currently is musical director of Burns Quoir in Drumlithie and Justsinginbirnam. She is known for her sense of humour while teaching, and her ability to encourage less confident singers to give it a go. Christine will be supported by a number of local music enthusiasts.
She says they have been inspired by the incredible success of the BBC television show ‘The Choir’. The series, which was the catalyst behind the 2011 Christmas number one ‘Wherever You Are’ by The Military Wives Choir, sees choirmaster Gareth Malone attempt to teach choral music to people with little singing experience.
Christine explains, “I’ve been working with community choirs since the 90s and we know the same concept can be used successfully to bring together a huge choir to perform at the Festival. We have no idea how many people might come forward, but we hope that it will be the biggest choir ever seen on stage in the local area.
“The choir is open to absolutely everyone, even people who have no experience of singing whatsoever. We want people of all ages and backgrounds to take part, from schoolchildren through to senior citizens. Although we expect that it will be mainly made up of individual singers, it would be fantastic to have the support of established choirs so that we can really drive up the numbers.
“The Coastal Choir will be performing on the Sunday afternoon of the Festival, all of which will be songs related to the sea, mostly with a folk and traditional root. I’m really hoping we’ll get plenty of folk keen to join in – if you’re not sure, just come and give it a go anyway, and bring your friends!”
In addition to the expert tuition from Christine, The Coastal Choir will have some help from US sea shanty expert Bob Walser, who is making his second appearance at the Festival. Hyttetu Men’s Choir from the Norwegian island of Kvitsoy, just off the coast of Stavanger, will also take part. During the choir’s last visit in 2010 the members quickly picked up some of the local Doric dialect which is contained in some of the work to be performed.
Three choral workshops, which are free to attend, will take place at The Salmon Bothy in Portsoy in the run up to the grand premiere. The first takes place on April 28 from 2-5pm, with the others following on May 19 and June 16. Christine adds, “Although it would be good if singers could attend these workshops there is no problem if they cannot make them as everyone is welcome to perform and there will be an opportunity to rehearse over the Festival weekend.”
The Creative Scotland Youth Music Initiative, which aims to encourage young people to sing together and with other people in their community, has provided a grant of £1,500 to help get The Coastal Choir off the ground.
Anyone who would like to take part should contact Moira Stewart on 07982 721917.
Festival takes place: Saturday 23 June – Sunday 24 June 2012