And we’ve survived “the Festival”for another year

If you are a parent, teacher or school pupil within the Inverclyde area then the third week in January can only mean one thing – time for the “Festival.”

This year saw the Inverclyde Music Festival celebrate its centenary year- quite an achievement. The first Festival was a two day event – 25-26 April 1914 – and was held in Greenock’s Town Hall. A century later it is a two week event and is still held in Greenock’s Town Hall. From the tiny tots in Primary 1 right through to adults, the Festival attracts competitors of all ages. It covers a vast range of talents- speech, drama, country dancing, instrumentals, ensembles, choirs, soloists, duets, Burns song and verse. Over the entire two weeks it caters for every taste.

Now I’ll be honest as a child it terrified me. I was “the child” whose mother had to write a letter to the teacher saying I was too scared to step out on that stage. I finally overcame that fear and sang – badly most likely- in the school choir when I was about thirteen. Never again!

Add a few years and I have become the parent. Taking my lunch break at 10:30am to run along to the Town Hall to support either Boy Child, Girl Child or both as they competed with their primary school class in Action Songs  or Singing Games. Add another few very short years and they ventured into the Brass category. Sitting up on the balcony in the main Town Hall or on a seat in the Saloon (a slightly smaller hall) watching your baby play solo is nerve wracking. I was sick with nerves every time. Listening to them play as part of an ensemble, band or orchestra is only slightly less nerve wracking.

Girl Child and her French horn endured a love/hate relationship for almost four years before she handed it back and bowed gracefully out of the arena. Boy Child still plays with multiple bands – he plays trumpet – and appeared three times at this year’s Festival. His school concert band even won their class and a huge silver cup this year! He may be almost six feet tall but when I’m watching him on that stage he’s still my baby boy.

The Festival is now over for another year – “Thank heavens for that!” cries every school teacher and music tutor for miles around who have practically lived in the Town Hall for a fortnight – and next year will likely be Boy Child’s last year performing.

This centenary year also marked a personal milestone. The Big Green Gummi Bear finally came to hear Boy Child perform as part of Inverclyde Schools Wind Orchestra at the Centenary Concert. It was the first time he had seen him out on stage- I hope it won’t be the last…time will tell.


The poem below was inspired by previous trips to the Town Hall for both the Festival and various concerts.


Maybe This Time

Excitement building

The audience take their seats

The lights dim

The concert band take to the stage


Next to me an empty seat

A glance to the doorway – no one there


The concert band play

Music fills the hall

With parental pride the audience applaud

With a bow of thanks the band are gone


Next to me an empty seat

A glance to the doorway – still no one there


Time moves on – more groups perform

The talent and confidence shared.

Soloists and duets; quartets and strings

Achievement and success abound


Next to me an empty seat

A glance to the doorway – still no one there


Finally the orchestra take to the stage

More formal and precise than before

String, woodwind and brass ring true

A standing ovation well earned


Next to me an empty seat

A final glance to the doorway –

Was that a shadow moving away?

If you are interested in learning more about the Inverclyde Music Festival Association and its hundred year history you can find the whole story on their web site –



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