GLASGOW Music Festival, the city’s annual celebration of sensational song, music, dance, speech and drama, kicks off on Saturday (March 4).

For one young performer, his fellow bandmates and his family, it will be a particularly emotional affair.

Kerr Gildie, from East Kilbride, has fought his way back to health after being badly injured in a car accident in December 2015.

The teenager, who is a talented drummer and percussionist with Duncanrig Secondary Ceilidh and Folk Group, was knocked down by a car when crossing the road to meet up with friends during the school Christmas holidays.

As he lay in hospital, fighting for his life, his fellow band members and school staff rallied to support the popular sixth year pupil and his family.

Now they will be cheering him and his fellow musicians to the rooftops when the ceilidh band takes to the festival stage next week.

“It’s fantastic to have Kerr back in the band,” says Ian McLean, Duncanrig music teacher.

“He is such an important part of the group, and we’re all delighted – to see his progress over the last few months has been fantastic. What he has achieved, after all he has been through, is exceptional.”

Duncanrig Ceilidh and Folk Group has won the schools folk category at the festival for the last four years in a row.

The school’s senior choir and its concert band, who won the James L McAdam Memorial Trophy, also triumphed at last year’s event.

“It’s a fantastic focus for our young musicians – something a little bit out of their comfort zone, that’s a real challenge, and a chance to show everyone how hard they work,” explains Mr McLean.

“The young ceilidh band musicians invest a lot of time in rehearsals and also working on the arrangements of the music.”

The ceilidh band has become a popular and respected local outfit too, regularly performing at weddings, school fundraisers and other events throughout the year.

Getting the chance to perform in Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall, says Mr McLean, is a fantastic opportunity.

“Glasgow Music Festival is a brilliant event, because it gives the young people a chance to not only develop their musical talents, but also learn important skills and confidence-building that they will use whether they choose to pursue a career in music or not,” he explains.

“It’s great too for other pupils thinking about getting involved - our success at the festival has definitely inspired other pupils to take up music at the school and we now have a busy junior ceilidh band, which is great as the senior pupils will be moving on soon.”

At the 2015 event, Kerr was singled out by the judges as an exceptional talent.

His dad, Henry, explains: “Before his accident, Kerr was a talented musician and at Glasgow Music Festival he was given special recognition by the invigilators. They said that in most bands, players take the rhythm from the pianist but in the ceilidh band, they took it from the drummer.

“They said – when he is playing, they are all playing, and when he is laughing, they are all laughing.”

Henry smiles: “They called him Mr Rhythm and asked him to stand up for a special round of applause, which was great.”

Henry believes music has had an important part to play in Kerr’s rehabilitation.

“The head teacher of Duncanrig, George Wynne, and his senior management team, have been excellent and hugely supportive in Kerr’s recovery,” he says.

“We’re very grateful and know that they and the music staff in particular will continue to help throughout his ongoing rehabilitation.”

Glasgow Music Festival was first held in 1911.

Each year around 7000 performers take part in the two week programme, which this year runs from March 4 to 18.

There are events for groups of almost any size and description, in addition to an extensive programme for solo performance.

Bands, ensembles, orchestras, drama groups and choirs of all ages and abilities fill the city with music and the spoken word, encompassing everything from opera and musicals to jazz, folk and Burns poetry.

Performers have the opportunity to develop their skills through receiving advice and encouragement from a team of experienced professional adjudicators.

Last year, a breathtaking array of musical winners included woodwind whizzkids Campbell Lang and Adam Lee, Emma Simpson, Fiona Sweeney and Katrina Mulheran; plus St Teresa’s Primary and Woodhead Primary won the Ian Barrie Certificate for hymn singing.

Demonstrating that all ages are welcome to take part, youngsters from the Jimmy Dunnachie Family Learning Centre in Arden

got involved with gusto in the pre-school music making (non-competitive) event at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

Beryl Fisher, chairperson of Glasgow Music Festival explained that while much of the programme centred around young people, amateur performers of all ages take part.

“They can benefit from observing other performances and through meeting fellow participants from across Scotland and other parts of the United Kingdom,” she said.

“Performers at the Festival have wide-ranging experience and abilities.

“Some are ‘high flyers’ who will become professional performers with flourishing international careers.

“For many, however, music, dance, speech and drama will remain worthwhile interests which provide enjoyment and valuable recreation.”

The organisation of Glasgow Music Festival is undertaken by a team of dedicated volunteers who work throughout the year, devoting considerable time, energy and skill to the much-loved event.

Beryl added: “We do have winners, but our aim is to provide a platform for performance for all - young and old - irrespective of class, ability or culture.”

Glasgow Music Festival runs from March 4 to 25. The Evening Times will publish daily results and photographs - see more at