Mallaig young musicians wow audiences on China trip

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A group of young traditional musicians from Mallaig High School and their teacher have returned after a visit to China saw them fly the flag for Lochaber and Scotland.

The recent four-day trip to Chengdu and Beijing saw the five-strong party from Mallaig take part in the 9th Young Cultural Ambassador Event.

The group played at three local schools, as well as the performing at the opening and closing ceremonies of the main event, one which was at the Sichuan Conservatoire.

The four young Mallaig High musicians, who were accompanied by the secondary’s music department head, Lauren Moir, also managed to take in some sightseeing while there, including a visit to see pandas and the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu near Beijing, which also gave S2 pupil Struan Robertson the chance to play his pipes atop one of the world’s most famous man-made landmarks.

The visit was organised by the Confucius Institute of Scottish Schools.

Ms Moir told the Lochaber Times the visit had been fantastic and could not praise highly enough the four Mallaig High students – Ellie Tevendale, 17, Scots fiddle; Georgia Dennis, 17, guitar; Struan Robertson, 14, Highland bagpipes, and Anna Robertson, 16, Scots fiddle.

‘It was an amazing trip. We had no real expectations of what would be involved. The festival organisers wanted some young traditional Scottish musicians to take part and provide a Scottish flavour as the winners of the competition were to receive a prize of performing at the Edinburgh International Festival,’ she told us.

‘We had very warm and friendly welcomes wherever we went and people loved hearing traditional Scottish tunes being played – I’ve heard they are still talking about us in Chengdu.

‘We had also taken some photographs with us that showed where those in our wee group all came from. Two of the party live on Knoydart and some of the Chinese young people could not believe they had to travel to school by boat.

‘We were so popular and I’m so proud of the kids. They did so well – they were very open, friendly and engaging, and were wonderful ambassadors, not just for Mallaig High, or Lochaber, but for Scotland generally.’

The young musicians are regular performers in Lochaber and further afield, who between them have tallied up competitive playing and public performances including Celtic Connections, Blas Festival, Feisean and a host of trad music events.