THEY came, they gaithered, they played, sang, danced and entertained and the eleventh Border Gaitherin to be held in Coldstream was a success once again, earning its place as a major event in the traditional music festival calendar.
Local youngsters got the weekend off to a great start during the Cool Concert in Coldstream Community Centre on Friday evening, along with Coldstream Community Theatre, Highline, and Carly Blain and Friends, and the tone was set for the rest of the weekend - a combination of great music and plenty of fun.
During the day the tutors held workshops for those who were keen to improve their playing, singing and dancing, and as the standard improves year after year it’s clear that what the musicians are learning at these workshops is paying dividends.
The lunchtime cabaret on Saturday afternoon was an impressive line-up of talent - Matt Seattle (piper) Elspeth Smellie (harp), Andrew Waite (traditional musician of the year finalist 2011), Robyn Kinsman Blake, Robin Jerdan, The Lynella School of Dancing, Christopher Keatinge, and Shona Mooney (traditional musician of the year winner).
Audience expectations were high and they were not disappointed.
Saturday night’s ceilidh was a great work-out for everyone, as well as being a sociable and enjoyable way to keep fit and enthusiasm was in abundance, as everyone let their hair down for the evening.
A new event introduced last year in the Gaitherin programme was the Open Stage competition and it proved so popular it looks like being another permanent addition to the Gaitherin.
The Open Stage gives musicians, singers and dancers of all ages and levels of experience the opportunity to perform in front of an audience, and a panel of three judges - the prize being a four hour recording session at the Ish’uze (Peebles Youth Group) recording studio.
Last year unearthed some promising young musicians, but this year those taking part took it up to a completely different level giving the judges (including myself) a very difficult task.
The musicianship of so many youngsters was quite breathtaking and while television programme’s such as ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ may get millions of views, it is audiences at events such as these that witness real talent in abundance - so bear that in mind for next year’s event, it’s worth popping along to Coldstream Community Centre to see.
The eventual winner was country singer Mary K Burke, accompanied by the very versatile Scott Turnbull who also accompanied a number of the other competition entries although he never took the main stage himself.
Mary sang a number of country classics and plucked up enough courage to sing one of her own self-penned compositions for the first time in front of an audience, and it was this originality, plus the tone and depth of her singing that put Mary at the top of a very impressive line-up of talent.
Runners-up were Jane Oxnard and Sophie Lynch - a couple of very gifted young ladies.
As well as singing and playing fiddle to a high standard, they obviously put a lot of thought into their short ten minute programme and gave their audience a great variety of tunes, both fast and slow, ending on the ever popular ‘Calendonia’.
Hot on their heels was young Maddie Cawthorne, accompanied by in-demand Scott Turnbull. She gave an enchanting performance, once again of fiddle and song, and is definitely one to watch in the future.
One of the judges was from Ish’uze and so impressed was she by the level of talent at the Open Stage that she also offered recording time for Maddie and Scott and Jane and Sophie when their mobile recording unit comes to Duns later in the summer.
As if all this wasn’t enough the weekend of traditional music came to a spectacular finale with all the tutors taking to the stage to give the audience a concert to remember.
From the early days of the Border Gaitherin the finale concert has always been seen as the culmination of everything the Gaitherin is about and people come from far and wide to hear the highest calibre of traditional musicians brought together on stage at Coldstream Community Centre.