A musical first…….   2 comments

Regular readers of the Eilean Donan Facebook page will know that I’m a vocal supporter of the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music (NCETM) based in nearby Plockton. What is less well known, perhaps because of their quiet modesty, is how strongly the Trustees of Eilean Donan feel about the castle’s position in the local community, and actively supporting a whole host of initiatives. Well last night we had the perfect opportunity to combine the two.

For the majority of the year, our operation revolves around providing an important facility for Scotland’s tourists as a Visitor Attraction, but outside of the main season, we try to utilise the castle for community events. So when Dougie Pincock, Director of NCETM recently approached us about a somewhat unique event, we were more than happy to help.

Every year, as the 6th year leavers come to the end of their schooldays, one of their final tasks, is a formal Recital under Examination conditions. Normally, this would take place in the school itself, but Dougie was keen to make it a bit more of a special event, and as such, asked about the possibility of the performance taking place in Eilean Donan. So last night, a select audience of the musicians closest family and friends gathered in our Banqueting Hall with a real sense of eager anticipation.

Many of you will be aware of the threat of closure that the school has faced in recent months after Highland Regional Council decided, in its wisdom, to remove future funding for the facility. Fortunately, following a huge public outcry, the Scottish Government stepped in to ensure the monies were found to safeguard this national treasure. Well, all I can say is that if last nights performances were anything to go by, then it was money well spent!

Myself and my wife love traditional music, and in our opinion, nothing beats live performances! We like to think we’ve heard and experienced enough to have a reasonably good ear, and I can honestly say that last night definitely exceeded our expectations. These young adults ably and confidently demonstrated that the future of traditional music is in very safe hands, and that young talent, when carefully nurtured by the tutors at NCETM can become truly inspirational.



Whether captivating their audience with a quiet ancient lament, or stirring them up with a foot-stomping modern jig, this talented bunch of young musicians held the entire room in the palm of their very capable hands for two breath-taking hours. Despite the foul weather outside, the castle walls reverberated to the sound of their instruments and rang with the pureness of well-manicured voices. If any of them were at all nervous about the Assessor who sat quietly in the corner observing and grading their efforts, it really didn’t show.

For the musical officiandos amongst you, we were treated to wonderful renditions of such classics as “The Corrievreckan Lullaby” , “Skye Glen Waltz”, “Calum’s Road”, “Zeeto the Bubbleman”, “£50 Cashback”, “The Skylark Ascending”, “Caledonia” and many others. One of the other many highlights was “Hostel Rules” written by one of the performers, Alastair Forsyth, about life in the residential hostel at NECTM.



I think it’s also worth observing that not only does the NCETM produce some simply stunning musicians, but just as importantly, individuals who are confident, assured, well-mannered, polite and a real credit to their families and their heritage.

So on behalf of everyone present, I’d like to take this opportunity to both congratulate as well as thank

Alexander Levack – Pipes & Whistle

Alastair Forsyth – Piano

Caitlin McNeil – Vocals, guitar and piano

Cameron Ross – Fiddle

Iain Macfarlane – Fiddle & mandolin

Michael Ferrie – Guitar

Lee Mackintosh – Guitar, bouzouki and djembe

You gave us all a truly memorable night, and I wish you all fabulously successful futures, wherever your talent leads you.
For blog readers who love traditional music, take note of these names, because these young musicians certainly have the potential to become household names of the future!


FOOTNOTE : Last nights event was recorded, and Dougie has promised to send me a wee sample of it to share with you in due course.



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Posted April 2, 2011 by eileandonan in Music

2 responses to “A musical first…….

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  1. My congratulations to these very talented young people! Where I live (in the U.S.), there’s also a movement afoot to stop funding the arts, but we need to recognize that the arts contribute much to our quality of life, wherever we reside.

  2. Very nice website! I’m looking forward to the sound clip when it gets posted. For some time now I’ve been looking for the “March of the Macraes”. I was happy to see that none other than Jimi will have this available soon.
    My family is of the Rays in northwestern North Carolina, separated (by storm?) from the original group of Macraes that settled in Nova Scotia.

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