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'Reel' cause for celebration as Tain Royal Academy's Gizzen Briggs stages 27th Fiddlers' Rally at Duthac Centre

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Gizzen Briggs delighted the audience.
Gizzen Briggs delighted the audience.

AFTER an enforced three-year gap, there was a definite air of anticipation as the capacity audience assembled for the Tain Royal Academy Gizzen Briggs’ 27th Fiddlers’ Rally in the Duthac Centre.

The group – and specifically this annual event – is testament to the High Life Highland staff and adult volunteers who run it and create so many memorable experiences for the players who participate.

Such is the reputation and legacy of this unique group that the 80 players on stage were a mix of current High Life Highland tuition pupils; High Life Highland music instructors; former Gizzen Briggs members and a number of adults who simply relish the opportunity to play with the group.

The music got off to a rousing start thanks to HLH piping instructors Scott Murray and Cameron Macdougall – still both members of Gizzen Briggs. Following that, the audience was treated to bar after bar of precision playing – clearly well tutored; highly practiced before the event and held together throughout the concert by High Life woodwind instructor Lynsey Bolton. Tucked away amongst the young performers was the inspirational yet retiring HLH instructor, Debbie Ross, co-founder of the group alongside former (now retired) colleagues from Tain Royal Academy.

Mrs Ross is quite rightly held in high regard by local pupils and parents, and the musical standard of Gizzen Briggs is in no small way due to her sterling work in Ross-shire schools and the support of colleagues from across Highland who also had pupils performing.

Just as the audience thought the evening couldn’t get any better, special guests Duncan Chisholm and Hamish Napier took the evening’s music to a whole new level. With their relaxed presentation and unquestionable musicianship they held the audience spellbound during both their programme slots. The players on stage could not fail to have been inspired by these two trad icons.

Tradition plays a great part in the format of any event of this nature and Saturday night was no different – from the trusted pupils compering to the anticipated encore from the assembled musicians of The Gael. There is no doubt that every member of Saturdays audience left the hall enriched by the evenings musical experience…and looking forward to number 28!

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