A sizeable group of people from the village gathered at the War Memorial on Sunday 13th November for the Remembrance Service.
As ever, Cath McGregor had made a wonderful job of decorating the memorial with the hundreds of red poppies that were knitted for the centenary of the WW1 Armistice back in 2018. This year, some additional poppies in the colours of the Ukrainian flag were added.
The service was led by Shirley Shearer and three wreaths were laid in honour of those who died in WW1 and WW2 and in subsequent conflicts. As has become our custom, one of the wreaths was laid for the Russian airmen and their Czechoslovakian colleague, all members of the WW2 Allied Forces in 1943, when they died in a plane crash in Fearnan Cow Park
After the service, coffee was served in the village hall, and a collection for Help for Heroes raised a generous £95 from those present.
Fearnan Book Club
After the excitement of the Ann Cleaves event, Fearnan Book Club has wiped its collective brow and normal business has resumed, as covered in Linda’s report below. The Book Club is delighted to report that some £555 was raised for the Scottish Charity Air Ambulance at the Ann Cleaves evening, and the SCAA has written to thank the community for this welcome contribution.
The book club recently read and reviewed The Island of Missing Trees, by Elif Shafak, an award-winning British-Turkish novelist whose work we have previously enjoyed.
It has been described as “A wise novel of love and grief, roots and branches, displacement and home, faith and belief. Balm for our bruised times.”
All agreed that it was a beautifully written and moving book with an engaging and descriptive style. A few found the first part of the book slow moving and ponderous although felt the second half moved at a faster pace. Some liked the fig tree as the narrator and regarded this as a clever device, others found this difficult to relate to. However the fig tree provided continuity throughout the narrative and kept the history and background going, by filling in the ‘missing bits.’ The multi-generational links were clarified and were plausible.
The Greek/Turkish conflict in Cyprus in the 1970’s was poignantly described. Its impact on the relationship and lives of the main characters Defne and Kostas resulted in years of grief and trauma. The vivid and detailed descriptions of the contrasting locations of Cyprus and North London enabled the reader to visualise the significant places in their lives.
Ada, the daughter, has this tree as her only connection to Cyprus and her family’s troubled history, as she seeks to untangle years of secrets. She is helped eventually by her eccentric aunt, whose character the group loved.
There was great discussion relating to a passage in the book about burying and then ‘unburying’ the fig tree, which had been grown and tended lovingly in London from the original tree, to protect it from the British winter. This seemed quite far fetched but Google and YouTube provided evidence and photographs that this method exists and is indeed used! We learned a lot about the ecology of the fig which is also grown by one of our group in her greenhouse in Fearnan and therefore didn’t need to be buried!
The ending was neat but not enjoyed by all of the group. Some could not relate to Defne metamorphosing into the fig tree after her sad death!
Our next read was totally different……..
How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie.
It will be reviewed in the next edition of the Blog.
Royal National Mod 2022
This year the Royal National Mod was held in Perth – something that added an extra edge to the competition for our local choir, the Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir.
Alan Brown, our Choral Chorus-pondent (I know, I know), has provide us with an exclusive report on the event, and including a reflection on the pleasure of stepping out from behind a Zoom screen to sing in person as part of a choir.
Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir has been in existence since 1967. It’s a popular choir, has appeared on radio and television, dipped its collective toe in audio/video recording projects, sung in sunny Spain and all over not-so-sunny Scotland and won the highest awards for Gaelic and music at the Royal National Mod both individually and collectively.
So, another year, another Mod? Same old story? No, not this time! This was a Mod with a difference, the difference being that it was the first time in three years that the Choir had been given the opportunity of leaving behind the Town Hall; leaving behind the fantasy world of laptop-driven Zoom practices where you could choose that no one would be able to hear you sing. Is that suitable preparation for any performer, never mind a collection of voices?
Add to these reasons the choice of venue for the Royal National Mod 2022 – Perth – and the prestigious appointment of our very own Gaelic Tutor Gilliain MacDonald as Mod Convener (recruiting several more Choir members to her committee) and a picture begins to emerge that simply turning up on the day and singing a couple of songs was never an option. This was one hundred per cent immersion. Geographically, Perth Gaelic Choir were the home team, but they are a newish choir and chose not to take part in some events.
The stringent but strictly adhered to lockdown rules meant that Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir could have only one public appearance prior to Perth, a much- acclaimed open-air performance at the Amphitheatre in Pitlochry at the end of August to a capacity crowd.
For those readers who like some explanatory notes, there is more to choral singing than meets the ear. You may well know that a choir divides into four parts – soprano, alto, tenor and bass, with further occasional subdivisions. Sometimes all sing the same tune; sometimes something else happens. All pretty straightforward so far but, crucially, what has to emerge from all this individualism is a Choir Sound, so important that I have capitalised it.
Not stray voices, however sweet or robust; not soft and tender passages swamped by the charge of the anything-but-light brigade. One sound. Which leads to the burning question: how can there be a Choir Sound when the choir is a bank of screens of disembodied heads? Necessary safety measures such as open windows, sanitised seats, safe distances between participants and wearing masks makes a Choir Sound impossible. A Choir Sound comes only from a choir singing together. In person.
Competitions were looming but before that there was the important task of welcoming people to Perth. Come with me now to Friday 14 October and a Civic Reception from Perth & Kinross Council (yes, your Council Tax; thank you so much) to celebrate the opening of the Mod. Invited members of Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir were very much in attendance and good publicity photos – the Aberfeldy Tartan is so distinctive – of a Torchlight Procession to the Concert Hall for a stellar opening concert made the national press.
Back again the next day for a concert Ar Canan ar‘s Ceol (The Language and the Music), an evening of mostly Perthshire music and song where a dozen Choir members had been invited by famed folklorist and singer Dr Margaret Bennett to accompany her on Bothan Airigh am Braighe Raineach (The Shieling Bothy on Brae Rannoch). An honour and a privilege indeed. Next day, as befits the Sabbath, we joined in a Celtic Praise event in St Matthew’s Kirk streamed across the world.
That was enough for the time being. Home to Aberfeldy for one more practice then Competition Day and a first time for our new members.
Friday saw us competing against the many friends we have met on our travels. The morning competition is for sung Puirt a Beul or Mouth Music and we more than held our own.
Afternoon was the Margrat Duncan Trophy where we were performing two songs with which we had struggled over the preceding months. All seemed to click, however, and we gave an excellent performance, losing out only to the newly formed Black Isle Choir with their imported medallists.
The Massed Choirs event on Saturday morning was the expected colourful highlight after marching behind two pipe bands through the centre of Perth and assembling as a huge choir outside the Concert Hall and Museum.
Songs were sung, speeches made (our own Choir President John Duff giving his admirably in Gaelic), the Mod banner was handed on to the Paisley 2023 Mod leader and that was Mod Pheairt 2022.
It was a very successful series of events with Perth proving to be the ideal centre for such an occasion and Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir surpassing its hopes. Did I tell you about another wee bit special occasion coming up? No? Well in June of next year in Aberfeldy it’s the anniversary of the first Perthshire and Angus Provincial Mod. Not just any anniversary though; the one hundredth! Just another Mod? Don’t you believe it!
Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir under Musical Director May Brown and Gaelic Tutor Gilliain MacDonald will always welcome anyone interested in joining through a love of Gaelic music. We meet on Mondays in Aberfeldy Town Hall at 7.30 pm. Look out for our monthly news column in The Quair.
Mulled Wine and Mince Pies
Just a reminder that Mulled Wine and Mince Pies will be served in the village hall this December for the first time in three years, so please do join us from 4 – 6pm on Saturday 10th December. Price at the door is £6pp.
All tastes will be catered for, and in addition to the usual fare, there will be non-alcoholic drinks and some non-mulled wine.
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