Aboyne Highland Games will host a range of virtual competitions this summer to offer traditional musicians a stage to perform.
The hugely popular event, which usually attracts thousands of people to the village, was cancelled in March for a second consecutive year due to the pandemic.
However, determined to still celebrate Scotland’s cultural heritage, organisers have decided to hold a series of online competitions for solo pipers and fiddle players.
This is the second time the Deeside event has taken some of its 95 competitions online with last year’s virtual piping competition attracting more than 30 pipers from across the world.
Pipe and fiddle music plays a huge part in the fabric of Aboyne Highland Games.
– Alistair Grant, chairman of Aboyne Highland Games
Respected piper and piping convener for the games Jack Taylor will once again lead the piping competitions, and said this is the ideal opportunity for more people to get involved.
He said: “The response from pipers last year was excellent, with more competitors than we would normally have at the games.
“Although the format and atmosphere are very different for a virtual competition, it is clear there is an appetite among pipers to perform competitively.
High standards of pipers will make judging tough
“I expect there will be high standard shown once again this year, giving the judges a few difficult decisions.”
As well as three piping events, fiddle players of all ages will also get the opportunity to go head to head in an intense competition of traditional music.
The fiddle competitions will be arranged and judged by renowned Tarland fiddler and games committee member Paul Anderson, who was recently made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours.
Mr Anderson, who was instrumental in introducing fiddle events to the games in 2008, these events are “hugely important” for preserving traditional Scottish music.
He said: “Aboyne Highland Games is unique in that it is the only Highland Games in the north-east that features a fiddle competition, celebrating Deeside’s rich fiddle music heritage.
“It is great that the games is providing this virtual platform for fiddlers of all ages to perform this year.
“Competitions such as this are hugely important in nurturing fiddle playing and for promoting and preserving traditional Scottish music.
“We hope to attract a good number of entrants from far and wide, and I look forward to listening to the performances.”
Music plays ‘huge part’ in games
All of the competitions are free to enter and prize money will be awarded to the top five performances in each piping competition, and the top four in each fiddle competition.
A separate overall prize for the best local fiddler will also be presented.
Results will be announced on Saturday August 7, when Aboyne Highland Games are traditionally held.
Alistair Grant, chairman of Aboyne Highland Games, added: “Pipe and fiddle music plays a huge part in the fabric of Aboyne Highland Games.
“Although disappointing not to hear it live on Aboyne Green again this year, these virtual competitions are an excellent substitute, offering musicians a competitive platform on which to play, which I know they have been missing.
“We are very grateful to our sponsors for their generous support in enabling the competitions to take place.
“A lot of work has been carried out by Jack and Paul, their stewards, judges, and numerous other people to arrange proceedings, and it will be great to hear the result of that hard work in August.”