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Sheila McCallum, Founder and Organiser

How it

  all began...

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The first Mid Argyll Music Festival took place in September, 1980, and was organised by Barbara Burke, who was then Head of Music in Lochgilphead High School, and Rob Lepley, peripatetic woodwind and brass instructor. The 1980 festival was purely instrumental, open to pupils of Lochgilphead High School together with its feeder primaries and included piping and piano classes.Two of the adjudicators for that first festival were Joan Bracken (piano) and Bill Gray (brass,) while the chairman was Clem Stewart, then Head Teacher of Lochgilphead High School. At the end of that very first one-day festival, Clem Stewart said he hoped that the festival might be the first of many, but with a wider catchment.  A public meeting was held, and so the story continued....

Then began a great brass band tradition with strong rivalry amongst the brass bands of Campbeltown, Dunoon and Lochgilphead, which continues to the present day and is a  popular feature of the Mid Argyll Festival, of which we are very proud.

From 1981, like Topsy, the Mid Argyll Music Festival grew and grew, reaching an all-time record of almost 800 entries, and involving almost 2000 competitors over the Festival week in 2010.

Classes have  expanded and diversified in accordance with local  trends and interests, to include dancing, poetry, action songs, news reading and the non-competitive "anything goes" class.


Most popular with audiences are the concert-type entertainment classes on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings, when a high standard of performance can be enjoyed in the Songs from the Shows on Wednesday, Pop and Scots on Thurday and the various choral, ensemble and solo vocal performances on the Friday.


As always, the high point is the Saturday evening brass band competition and the presentation of the Scottish Co-op CWS Premier Award for the most promising competitor.


The festival will continue to move with the times, taking account of changing interests and contemporary trends according to public demands.


In 2016, we  included provision for contemporary, popular songs, gaelic and traditional music. In 2018, we are proud to present our first clarsach and harp classes, and as always, we value and take account of any suggestions from our local communities that would enhance the Mid Argyll Music Festival and our community.  Thank you for your continuing support.  Please join us 18th to 23rd  March for our 40th festival.


Daytime and evening competitions are most entertaining and we are proud to showcase the wealth of musical talent and versatility in Mid Argyll.

The public meeting was attended by several people who would support and influence the  growth and development of the festival, including Sheila and Iain McCallum, Margaret Gossip, Janet Ward (Mid Argyll Musical Society,)  and founder of our local Talking Newspaper, Mrs Matheson, (then Head of Kilmartin Primary School.)  Also present were Mr Maxwell (Ardrishaig Primary,) and Mr Finlayson from Inveraray Primary. This group formed the first committee, who proceeded to plan for the next festival in March 1981.

The 1981 Mid Argyll Music Festival was opened up to include vocal classes and a much wider group of competitors from communities as far away as Islay, beginning a long tradition of involvement by groups from Islay.  This one-day festival, incredibly, drew 300 entries over a wide range of classes. Competitors at that festival included Wilma MacDougall, (now a highly respected vocal coach, who piped and sang at the first festival,) and members of the McTaggart family who are still regularly picking up silverware at the National Mod.

Many of the competitors at that first festival are the parents of today's young performers.

2012 Matthew Tanner from Campbeltown Brass receives his award from the Co-op's John McFadden, after achieving the highest  mark  ever given to  a brass soloist in the history of the festival.

2013 Molly Keating- winner of Songs from the Shows (Junior Section.)

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2011 Lochgilphead `School Band celebrate their success

2011 Abbie Williams with her double award for Scots Verse..

(Primary) and the overall winner of the Speech section.

2012 Holly Renton wins the prestigious CWS Award.

2013 Winning smiles from Alistair Cupples with CWS Premier Award trophy.

2011 Emma McFarlane and Hannah Prill with their trophy for S1-3 Vocal Duet

Iona McNicol gave a winning performance in the Scots Vocal Solo S1-3


2011 Fiona Cupples receives the CWS Premier Award from John McFadden of the Co-op and Festival Organiser, Sheila McCallum.

Piping classes were well supported for many years, and we are delighted that, after an absence of several years, Piping has been reinstated at the Mid Argyll Music Festival.

  This Music Festival is committed to promoting and developing skills in singing, instrument playing and recitation, as well as showcasing a raft of local and visiting talent across the age groups and musical genres.


Many thanks to performers, accompanists, teachers, instructors, adjudicators, parents, audiences, Festival Committee, volunteers, caterers and janitors for making the 40th annual Music Festival a resounding success!

Recently introduced classes in Gaelic, Popular Song and Piping  were well supported and received much positive feedback.  You are now warmly invited to attend our 41st festival in Lochgilphead.  This year's venues are Lochgilphead Parish Church and Lochgilphead Joint Campus. More information on "Info 2020" page.

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