Get Involved – Bigger and better music competition

Royal Celtic Society 2021 :   Bigger and better musical composition competition in collaboration with shinty bodies and Fèisean nan Gàidheal

The musical composition competition which marked the celebration last year of the 200th anniversary celebrations of Royal Celtic Society activities and the fact that shinty was not played last summer, is to be repeated in an enhanced and changed format.

Lochaber’s Ewen Henderson, one of Scotland’s finest musicians and composers emerged as the winner of the 2020 competition with results of the final of the musical shoot-out revealed at the precise moment that shinty’s Big Day out, the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup Final, would have been throwing up in Kingussie, had it not been for the intervention of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The success of last year’s competition has now led to the launch of a newly expanded format for 2021 with increased prizes and a new section for musicians aged under-18. The competition also sees two new collaborators joining the supporting groups – Shinty Memories Scotland and Fèisean nan Gàidheal.

This year’s main prize winner will receive £800, second place £600 and third place £300. The best entry in the under-18 section will be awarded £250 and a further £250 to donate to a Fèis of their own choice.

Building on the experience of last year’s competition, there are some changes to the format of this year’s event.  The new competitions will be for solo artistes to play an unaccompanied piece of music, on one instrument, recorded on a mobile phone or similar,  and in a situation relevant and appropriate to the piece of music.

There will be two competitions this year – an open one with 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes and an under-18 competition.  Under 18s should enter the young people’s competition only and be under 18 on the closing date for entries Monday, August 2.

Composition entries must be original and can be of any length and entrants should offer a short explanation of the relevance of the piece and the location, as part of the recording.   The three best tunes in the main competition will be chosen by the judging panel from an initial selection of the ten best, to decide the winner and the prizes. The selection of finalists will be made by a panel comprising RCS representative, Gary Innes (Chair), Camanachd Association representative, Fèisean nan Gàidheal representative, Shinty Memories Scotland representative and a representative of the Glasgow Celtic Society.   Full details of the competition will be published in due course and it is anticipated that entries will open on June 1 and be open through July.   Entries will be submitted to newly created email address by Monday, August 2.

Speaking of behalf of the judges Gary Innes said: “Last year’s competition presented us with a hugely challenging set of circumstances and a really interesting competition which attracted a significant number of fantastic entries.  We are delighted with the response we got from a wide range of musicians. The variation in the competition this year is bound to present us with a new set of challenges, and I look forward to seeing how the young musicians in particular perform, as we were greatly encouraged by their efforts last year.  At the end of the day Ewen’s melody was key to his success but we cannot speak highly enough of the effort everyone put into the competition.”

It had originally intended that the winner of the 2020 competition could have performed at the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup Final at the post-match Final Fling. That game has now been re-schedule for Kingussie in September 2021 and winning entrants will again be scheduled to appear there.

Royal Celtic Society Chairman Alan Hay said: “We were very fortunate to have  the Princess Royal available to introduce the final competition for us in our significant 200th year when she agreed to become our Patron and I look forward to her participation again this year. I am grateful to all the supporting bodies and I extend a particular welcome to Fèisean nan Gàidheal who are joining us for the first time.  We learned a lot from last year’s challenging circumstances  against the background of a global pandemic, at a significant moment in our own and shinty’s history.  This is reflected in the changes we are making this year I am very much looking forward to seeing how the whole event unfolds, hopefully in happier circumstances for us all.”

A further News Release will be issued in May to confirm the final details of the competition and entry process, to enable planning to accommodate any changes in CIOVID-19 arrangements.

For further information about the competition please contact  Hugh Dan MacLennan, at or on 07515287040