Burns-singing teen hits the high note

Orla has been performing in Burns competitions for years, winning many medals and trophies. (George McLuskie)
Orla has been performing in Burns competitions for years, winning many medals and trophies. (George McLuskie)

An Elie teenager has her eyes on the big time as she prepares to take part in an international arts festival.

Orla Jones (15), a pupil of Waid Academy, will be performing at the Aberdeen International Youth Festival (AIYF) next month.

She will be in the Up Close & Musical: Scotia’s Realm, a concert about Scotland’s music, verse and song, with all performers champions of the Robert Burns World Federation.

Orla was asked to take part after finishing third in the federation’s National Schools Competition S3/S4 singing group.

She also helped Fife collect the top prize in the best team category.

It’s not the first time Orla has been given a prize for singing Burns.

She has reached the nationals for the last five years and was surprised to be among the winners.

“The standard was so high and I didn’t think I would place,” she said. “But I gave it my all.”

Her reward, as well as another medal to add to her growing collection, is a trip to Aberdeen for the youth festival.

Orla said: “I’m excited. It’s something different, plus it’s an opportunity to make new friends, and I make many connections. I’ll get so much experience from this. I’m just really looking forward to it.”

Orla will be performing twice on August 4, at the Acorn Centre, before taking part in a show bringing together the best from international culture.

The AIYF International Variety Gala, taking place on August 5, at His Majesty’s Theatre, will feature acts from countries including Ghana, Russia, Czech Republic, and more, as well as Scotland.

Speaking about her love of Burns, Orla said: “He’s our national bard and he’s celebrated all over the world.

“Personally, I don’t think he’s celebrated enough – his music is beautiful. What I love about taking part in the competition is that everyone there wants him to be remembered.”

The event marks just another part of Orla’s busy summer.

Last week she performed twice at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh, as part of youth production company Shoogly Peg’s show American Idiot.

Orla had a central role in the production, which is based around the band Green Day’s 2004 album, playing Extraordinary Girl, who falls in love with one of the three main characters.

As well as featuring on stages on the West End and Edinburgh, Orla is part of Anstruther’s Harbour Lights musical theatre group, and has her heart set on a future on the stage.

“I would like to do musical theatre,” she said. “That’s the dream. I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t do drama.”