VICTORIAN venue Strathpeffer Pavilion is celebrating a 10th anniversary.
The building may be 133 years old, but it is a decade since the Pavilion was restored to life as one of the north’s most striking venues.
Since then the Pavilion has hosted exhibitions, concerts, plays and talks featuring such star names as The Kaiser Chiefs, Midge Ure, Nik Kershaw, The Proclaimers, Edwyn Collins, US songwriter Janis Ian and broadcaster, director and satirist Jonathan Miller, joining the list of great names who have appeared there in the past, including Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton and suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst.
Marketing officer Margaret Macdonald, who has been at the Pavilion since it re-opened, and other members of staff picked their favourite Pavilion memories of the last 10 years.
Margaret’s initial shortlist stretched to 30 events.
"The only way I could thin it down to 10 was by picking one event per year," she said.
Doors Open Day, September 2004 — all the early events were a bit special, including our first weddings, but it was truly amazing and very encouraging for the Pavilion team that nearly 1000 people visited in one day to see and admire the restored Pavilion.
Scottish Chamber Orchestra, July 2005 — the brilliant SCO are among the Pavilion’s staunchest supporters and have given wonderful concerts here every year, but the first one was very special for all sorts of reasons.
Scottish Opera, September 2006 — we have had some wonderful operatic performances, by Opera Bohemia among others, but Scottish Opera’s Die Fledermaus was something quite magical.
Capercaillie, November 2007 — Gaelic supergroup Capercaillie are a national institution and it was just wonderful to have them here
Kaiser Chiefs, May 2008 — not only because it was so amazing for them to be in Strathpeffer, but also because they almost lived in the Pavilion for two days. Both they and their fans were such fun and the two sold-out concerts were memorable in every way.
Deacon Blue, May 2009 — very hard to choose just one event from 2009, when we also had a Royal Visit among other things, but I’m a long-time fan of the great Deacon Blue, was thrilled when we managed to book them, loved their two sell-out concerts and was very chuffed when Ricky Ross commented on the great atmosphere: "Like Saturday night at the Barrowlands". Pretty good for a Monday in Strathpeffer!
Showaddywaddy, May 2010 — this was the day Ross County were in the Scottish Cup Final, so we were afraid we wouldn’t get an audience. But it sold out and was an amazing night, with a fantastic party atmosphere, even though the sound wasn’t great because Dave Bartram’s voice was starting to give out. Dave himself has since found an outstanding replacement vocalist in Andy Pelos.
Blas/Fèis Rois, September 2011 — the wonderful Blas Festival has held a concert here nearly every year, starting when it was still a pilot project. But the 2011 concert was exceptional because the talented and enthusiastic youngsters of Fèis Rois performed with their musical heroes, so it was an astonishing array of musical talent. Plus everyone had such a great time that some of the musicians carried on ceilidhing afterwards and nobody wanted to go home. In fact, some of them continued on the bandstand after we gently pushed them out the door! So I think I’d have to pick this one for 2011, though I’m tempted to choose Janis Ian...
Dingwall Choral, December 2012 — our very talented local choir are here twice a year and we always enjoy having them. But their rendition of Handel’s Messiah with the Invergordon Singers was something else. The Hallelujah Chorus might have been written for the Pavilion and sounded just heavenly. Second choice for 2012 would be Dr. Feelgood — quite different!
Donnie Munro, acoustic concert, April 2013 — another year when I find it hard to pick a favourite, since it also included Rab Noakes, the Spooky Men, Eddi Reader and Mahler in Miniature. But this was my favourite of Donnie’s Pavilion concerts, a very intimate event, in which he shared stories about the songs, his own, Runrig’s and others. And it was made even more special by the fabulous fiddle of young Maggie Adamson and by the fact that Runrig’s Calum Macdonald, who wrote many of the songs, was in the audience.
So that’s my very difficult choice and I’m sorry to have had to miss out the Proclaimers, the Saw Doctors, John Renbourn, Dogstar Theatre, Plan B Dance, The Man Who Planted Trees, Jennifer Batten, Jonathan Miller and Edwyn Collins... It’s too soon to pick an event for 2014 but I must say that Dingwall Gaelic Choir’s 60th anniversary concert is going to be hard to surpass!
Andrew MacRae, event manager:
a whole day event that was held in the Pavilion for the first time this year. It set the whole village buzzing, was hugely enjoyed by everyone and is going to be here again next year.
Hooley in the Highlands annual country music festival —
Midge Ure — one of Scotland’s greatest rock stars and Andrew’s boyhood idols
Rab Noakes — great concert by a singer-songwriter and producer with a far-reaching influence on Scottish music
Howard Marks — the former drug smuggler turned speaker and writer proved a charming ("Mr Nice" indeed) and interesting speaker.
The Animals & Friends — although there was a disappointingly tiny audience, it was a fantastic night of retro rock (including of course House of the Rising Sun).
Dingwall Choral Society’s Messiah — nobody who was there will ever forget hearing the Hallelujah Chorus in the Pavilion
All or Nothing & Strangebird Zirkus in Uncharted Waters — it was such an unusual show and was so much enjoyed by a sizeable audience of all ages from small children to seniors
Dougie Maclean — because he’s "The Man" where Scottish songwriting is concerned and it was great to have someone of his calibre here.
Jonathan Miller — a British national institution and an enthralling speaker.
Development manager Sian Jamieson’s choices was the Jive Aces in March this year: "Because they were so talented, so lively and so colourful and because it was great to see people of all ages dancing to them."
Graphic designer Max Garland says his favourite event was the Spooky Men’s Chorale in August 2013: "It was a funny show and I loved when the Spookies came down from the stage at the end and got everyone up to dance to Leonard Cohen’s Dance Me to the End of Love."
• The restored Pavilion celebrates its 10th birthday on Saturday12th July with a debut Strathpeffer show by popular north soul and funk band Scooty and The Skyhooks.
Support is by local group S#arp Exit.
What are your favourite memories of the last decade of Strathpeffer Pavilion?
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