Youth choir 'inspire' overseas diplomats


A choir of young people from Banffshire will perform at Edinburgh Castle tonight in front of Scotland's Consular Corps, representing around 50 countries.

First Minister Alex Salmond invited the Inspire Choir to travel to the capital after they performed at the official launch of his 2009 Christmas Card at Duff House, Banff. Bodega - recently voted Folk Band of the Year in the Scottish Traditional Music Awards - will also perform at the First Minister's reception for Consular Corps in the Castle's Great Hall.

Mr Salmond said: "I'm delighted that the young people in the Inspire Choir agreed to perform at Edinburgh Castle for this special event. The Inspire Choir lives up to its name and I'm sure that all of the Consular representatives will enjoy the performance as much as those of us who heard them at Duff House did.

"I'm also very pleased that Bodega will be performing at tonight's reception. Since forming in 2005 they have taken their distinctive brand of celtic folk music across Europe and North America, picking up several prestigious awards in the process. This annual event is designed to thank the many Consular missions for working with the Scottish Government to strengthen the economic and cultural links between our nations."

Inspire Choir's musical director Hannah McGinlay, 20, said: "We were really excited to be invited to Edinburgh to sing at the Castle for the reception hosted by the First Minister. We hope that everybody enjoys our performance."

55 countries are represented in the Scottish Consular Corps, from full diplomatic consulates to honorary consulates.

Led by Ms McGinlay and choir director Hugh Johnstone, 19, Inspire Choir is a group of 8-to 18-year-olds who have sung at more than 50 local concerts, as well as performing in Paris and singing with Keith Jack, runner-up in BBC's Any Dream Will Do. They performed at the unveiling of the Gerard Burns painting featured on the First Minister's 2009 Christmas Card - the sale of which will support four charities, CLIC Sargent, Glasgow the Caring City, J-A-C-K Foundation and Mary's Meals.

Bodega's music spans both traditional and contemporary roots, incorporating Gaelic, Scottish and many wider cultural components along the way. The band, whose members hail from various areas, including Fraserburgh, Lewis, Oban, Skye and the Shetland Isles, have played festivals across Europe and North America.