The 2020 Western Isles Young Musician of the Year competition is just one week away, on Friday 6 and Saturday 7 March.

And the organising committee say that this year’s competition has expanded to create equality across musical genres, with new categories and awards planned.

Committee chairman Gavin Woods said: “We have experimented over the last few years and found that some instruments can be judged against each other, while others don’t work so well when you compare them to each other.

“So this year we will have three competitions – Young Classical Musician, Young Singer of the Year and, new for this year, Young Piper of the Year. We hope next year to introduce a further competition, for Young Traditional Musician of the Year.”

An ensemble competition for small groups of up to six players will be judged at primary, junior (S1-S3) and senior (S4-S6) level and there’ll be a classical competition for primary pupils only.

There’s also a composition prize for youngsters who have composed their own music, similarly judged at primary, junior and senior age groups.

The timetable for the competition is intensive, with the ensemble competition to be judged on Friday 6 March from 7pm at the Nicolson Institute.

On Saturday 7 March piping will be judged at the Nicolson and the rest of the competitions at Stornoway Primary School, before a grand final in the ballroom of Lews Castle on Saturday night. It’s open to the public for an admission price of £5 on the door.

Last year’s winner of the overall title Western Isles Young Musician of the Year was tuba-player Calum Poustie. The committee have been supporting his fundraising for a new tuba, at a cost of nearly £7,000, by applying to the EMI music fund for a contribution towards the cost.

Gavin Woods said: “Western Isles Young Musician of the Year has been working in partnership with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Rotary Club of Stornoway to provide a platform for talented young musicians across the Western Isles.

“Our association with Rotary means that winners of the senior singer competition and the young musician of the year are eligible to go forward to the Rotary national final – Ceitlin Mackenzie competed there in 2018 and Calum Poustie in 2019, both in Perth.

“That competition gives them more experience of playing in the public eye and allows them to take part with other young musicians from beyond their own area, so they can judge themselves against a wider standard.”