The Aberdeen and North-East Music Festival has begun its 98th edition, with more than 1,000 competitors aiming to win the approval of adjudicators.
For the second year in a row, the festival is being held virtually, and the amateur musicians have prerecorded videos of themselves playing for the judges to watch before they are given vocal and written feedback.
The pandemic has hit the North East Scotland Performing Arts’ annual gathering in other ways too: there will be no brass and very little woodwind this year, as many children have not had access to their instrumental tutoring.
However, the virtual format means performers this year are able to appear from places as far away as France and Abu Dhabi.
And any member of the public can tune in for free, by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org asking for the Zoom details.
The festival started today at 9.30am, with the Light Music Vocal category being judged by Graham Dickie MBE.
Part of cultural tapestry
First run in 1909, the Aberdeen and North-East Music Festival is the area’s oldest, and has only ever been cancelled during the First and Second World Wars.
Organisers are currently considering holding live concerts for the closing competitions in two weeks’ time, but are unsure if the idea is viable.
Festival Director Janette Hall said: “When Covid hit last year, we were one of the first festivals to go online and get everyone to put in their videos so we could run the festival as though it were live.
“The videos come in, and they’re played to the adjudicators so they can give live feedback.
“It was very successful last year, so we thought, right, we’ll do it again this year.”
She added: “There clearly is a need out there for the festival to carry on – you always want to make sure that you’re relevant and keep moving with the times, but we’ve obviously still got it!”