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Highland music festival reaches out to new audiences as it goes online due to coronavirus pandemic; People from as far afield as Canada have joined this year's radically revamped Inverness Music Festival

By Val Sweeney

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Inverness Music Festival chairwoman Jean Slater.
Inverness Music Festival chairwoman Jean Slater.

People from as far afield as Canada have joined in this year’s Inverness Music Festival.

The historic event, which marks its centenary next year, is being run as a virtual festival for 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Talent from Ross-shire is generally a prominent feature of the event.

There are 325 individual performances at the heart of the event but hundreds more are getting involved by supporting the performers and mini concerts as well as taking part in free workshops, and enjoying the artwork and poetry on display.

Festival association chairwoman Jean Slater said while the core supporters were close to the Highlands, going online had brought a fresh dimension to the event and new audiences.

An introductory workshop to step dance, for example, had attracted participants from as far afield as Montreal and Dublin.

"This is the closest we can get to making our activities available to everyone whilst being aware that not everyone can use the internet," she said.

"There has been a real buzz of excitement and interest around the festival.

"It is certainly an event with a difference, and whilst we never expected to see a situation where we would be entirely online, we are celebrating some of the benefits it brings."

Several teachers had said how much the children have enjoyed taking part, when so many events have been cancelled.

Also, some children who were naturally shy had felt more comfortable with the remote contribution, and been able to join in whereas under normal circumstances they might not have done.

"There is an air of creativity which is really inspiring," Miss Slater said.

"Over 50 local children took part in our art competitions, designing posters and syllabus for the centenary event we hope to run in 2022.

"Elsewhere we have seen some really thought-provoking and mature poetry from some of our local children."

More details including the programme and results can be found at www.invernessmusicfestival.org

Related story: Inverness Music Festival is moving online

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