Mod welcomes hybrid approach face-to-face competitions and concerts

James Graham the chief executive officer of An Comunn Gaidhealach. Photograph: Gary Anthony.

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An exciting and inspirational celebration of Gaelic language and music is promised at The Royal National Mòd 2021 in the city of Inverness this autumn.

The eight-day event will hint at a return to normality as organisers of the prestigious celebration unveil a programme that will include a suite of in-person competitions and concerts.

2021’s hybrid approach will combine face-to-face competitions and concerts as well as a rich schedule of online performances to be broadcast throughout the week. More details on the online streaming content will be announced in the coming weeks.

Founded in 1891, this year’s festival will take place from October 8-16 from the host venue of Eden Court Theatre – in what will be the first indoor shows at the venue since 2020.

Major competitions, including the An Comunn Gàidhealach Gold Medal final on Wednesday October 13 and the Traditional Gold Medal final on Thursday October 14, will be part of the proposed in-person proceedings, together with key junior contests. In place of the famous choir contests – as a result of choirs not being able to practice together – there will instead be a celebration of Gaelic choral singing.

Alongside the competitions, several live shows are expected to be part of the physical element of this year’s celebration, including a lively opening concert on Friday October 8, featuring music from new outfit Staran, the famous Glenfinnan Ceilidh Band and the legendary Gaelic singer Margaret Stewart.

Dubbed ‘the new sound of a traditional Scotland’, Duncan Chisholm leads an all-star line-up on Saturday October 9. Taking to the stage with Mairearad Green, James Duncan Mackenzie and the Ar Cànan’s Ar Cèol House Band, alongside some of the Highland’s most incredible up and coming young musical talents, they celebrate the vibrant and thriving musical heritage of the Highlands.

Fiddler Lauren MacColl will also showcase a newly commissioned work inspired by coastal happenings and stories from around the Moray Firth, exploring real events connected to water, coastline, community and loss. Lauren will be joined on Tuesday  October 12 by Mairearad Green, Anna Massie and Rachel Newton.

In line with government guidelines, planned physical events will cater for restricted audience numbers; however, if restrictions are eased, organisers will endeavour to increase these capacities wherever possible.

James Graham, chief executive officer of An Comunn Gàidhealach, said: ‘We are delighted that we can once again showcase the best that Gaelic culture has to offer at this year’s Royal National Mòd. The last year has certainly not been without its challenges but to be able to bring certain elements of the Mòd back with a hybrid approach is a huge boost for the event and its community of competitors, performers and fans.

‘It will be a magical moment to hear live performance ring out in Eden Court once more and we look forward to welcoming people from Inverness and across Scotland to enjoy Gaelic song and music with one another. The online element of this year’s programme will also allow us to reach audiences around the world and we’re looking forward to celebrating the unique language, culture and spirit of the Gaels with thousands globally.’

Councillor Calum Munro said: ‘We are absolutely delighted that the Mòd is taking place in the capital of the Highlands and the surrounding area. As we all know due to the pandemic it has and continues to be rather challenging when organising such significant events, but An Comunn Gàidhealach continues to be innovative in developing a combination of hybrid competitions and events which are in-line with Covid-19 regulations.

‘The Royal National Mòd is one of the most important festivals of Gaelic and culture in Scotland, therefore it is fitting that it takes place in the capital of the Highlands where there are many venues including Eden Court where most of the events will take place and is ideal for hosting key blended approach events for people of all ages.

‘I look forward to viewing events online and also to attending the events during the nine-day extravaganza which celebrates our rich language and culture and will be showcased globally.’

Shona MacLennan, Ceannard, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said: ‘We are hugely pleased to be able to continue our support for the Royal National Mòd.  Holding some of the premier competitions live in Inverness will be a huge boost to the Gaelic community and the online events will ensure that Gaelic language and culture can be enjoyed throughout the world.

‘We want to congratulate An Comunn Gàidhealach and other Gaelic organisations that have worked hard during the last 18 months to ensure that many people were still able to benefit from listening to and participating in Gaelic culture despite all the hardships being faced, and be part of a world-wide community based on the Gaelic language.’

The Royal National Mòd is supported by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, The Highland Council, EventScotland, The Scottish Government, HIE, Caledonian MacBrayne, The Inverness Common Good Fund and SQA.

This year’s Royal National Mòd will run from October 8-16.  View the full programme now at www.ancomunn.co.uk