THERE will be a lot of talent on display over the next fortnight as the 92nd Inverness Music Festival is now uderway with some 3600 performers across the disciplines of music, drama, dance and public speaking.
Festival chairman, opera singer and singing teacher Reno Troilus reckons the region has much to be proud of in its singers, musicians and more, who range in age from toddlers to retirees.
"Across the board, the standards are very high, particularly in comparison with other festivals and events of this kind," Troilus said.
"There is a strong pull to the arts in the north of Scotland, and even the beginner classes show much promise in their performances. My personal favourites are the Scottish Idiom performers — they literally make the hairs on my neck stand to attention."
The festival gets under way tomorrow with the piping competitions at Inverness High School, followed by the adult Gaelic contests at the Kenneth Street Hall, but the main home of the festival will as usual be Eden Court Theatre, where events will be open to the public from 9.30am on Monday.
There are 75 trophies, shields and cups awarded at various classes, as well as six levels of certificate. The competitive element of the Festival culminates with the prestigious Curtis Craig Competition on the final evening, Friday 14th March, with the winner presented with the Curtis Craig Trophy.
However, not all the categories are equally popular.
"Our Scottish Music categories are always very busy, as are certain vocal categories such as Songs from Stage and Screen," Troilus said.
"However, we have some classes that really need a call to arms from teachers everywhere — Classical Guitar, Music Composition, Verse Composition, Adult Choirs, Secondary School Choirs, Recorder, Organ and Public Speaking."
Run by the volunteers of the Inverness Festival Association, the festival dates back to 1922.
However, entries have trebled over the last decade, making the event one of the biggest festivals in the UK per head of population.
Troilus is just one of over 90 volunteers who give up their time free of charge to be part of the festival, coming on top of his family and teaching commitments, as well as his return to performing with Scottish Opera last year in Handel’s opera Rodelinda.
So how does he manage it?
"Good question — I still haven’t worked out how to juggle it all simultaneously, but I have a dedicated team on the festival that makes my life much easier," he admitted.
"In particular, Jacqui Wiseman is the one who deserves the credit for keeping the ship afloat!
"The chairman’s job is one of those things where the buck stops with me — so there is a lot of pulling the trigger and then dealing with consequences, foreseen or otherwise! But it is all worth it to keep the arts alive and well in the capital of the Highlands"
All competitions are open to the public and are priced at £3 to £5 per section or £15 for access to all the competitions.
This year the festival will hold free fringe events at Union Street Bazaar (The Village) on Saturday 8th March.
Competition winners will return to Eden Court this summer for the Festival Highlights Show on Saturday 7th June in the One Touch Theatre.