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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Gaelic Culture & Music to be Celebrated in September Across the Highlands & Islands at Blas Festival

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The Highland 9-day festival returns in September

Some of Scotland’s best-loved traditional musicians and singers, including Ross Ainslie, Tim Edey, Jenna Cumming, Ruairidh Gray, Ewen Henderson and Deirdre Graham, will take to the stage in venues from Skye to Acharacle this September as the Blas Festival returns with its annual celebration of Gaelic music and culture.

The Blas Festival, which will run from 1st – 9th September 2023, showcases Gaelic culture and the thriving Scottish traditional music scene over 9 days of events in venues across the Highlands and Islands and this year will host around 25 concerts and cèilidhs, an education and communities programme and an online offering which will include workshops, Gaelic song sessions and livestreamed concerts.

This year Blas, which means ‘taste’ or ‘sample’, and is organised by Fèisean nan Gàidheal in partnership with The Highland Council, will visit an array of communities across the Highlands including Inverness, Glenelg, Lairg, Gairloch, Ballachuilish, Applecross, Portree, Kingussie and more.

The festival will highlight the Highlands’ rich culture and heritage with events showcasing a mix of old and brand-new Gaelic songs, stories and collaborations in a variety of venues from village halls to arts centres, attracting audiences from home and abroad.

The festival will open with a special concert in Inverness Cathedral featuring two brother and sister duos, one from Inverness, Peigi and Donaidh Barker, and the other, Seumas & Caoimhe Ui Fhlatharta, from Connemara on the west coast of Ireland.

They will be joined by Binneas, a Gaelic harmony collective featuring Gaelic and folk singers from across Scotland, led by Gaelic singer John Joe MacNeil, and Jenna Cumming, Inverness-born award-winning Gaelic singer.

As always there will be a few big birthday celebrations for respected tradition bearers including Isle of Lewis singer and musician, Calum Martin (70th); Rita Hunter, who was a driving force behind much of the growth in interest in traditional music in the Highlands and managed the successful Dingwall-based arts organisation, Fèis Rois, until 2008; Ness Melodeon Band member Murdo John Mackenzie who turns 80; and world renowned Glenuig piper, Dr Angus Macdonald.

Some familiar faces appearing on stage to celebrate these birthdays in style include Donald Shaw, Malcolm Jones, Finlay Macdonald, Ali Hutton, Iain MacFarlane, Allan Macdonald and many more.

International connections will also be showcased in An Tinne, led by Skye Gaelic singer, Anne Martin.

A musical journey of recognition and reconciliation, An Tinne, connects a collection of Trotternish songs, stories and objects across the centuries between Scotland and Australia and this powerful musical work inspired standing ovations when it premiered in Skye last year.

Anne will be joined by Anna Murray, Anna-Wendy Stevenson, Ingrid Henderson, Hannah Moule and Maggie Rigby for performances in Croy, Resolis and Inverinate.

The next generation of young musicians will entertain audiences throughout the festival, including musicians from Fèis Eilean an Fhraoich (Isle of Lewis), Fèis Thròndairnis (Staffin), Fèis nan Garbh Chrìochan (West Lochaber), Fèis an Earraich (Skye and Lochalsh), Fèis Inbhir Narainn (Nairn), Fèis Spè (Speyside), Fèis Lochabair (Lochaber) and Fèis Rois Kiltearn Fiddlers, culminating in a Ceòl nam Fèis finale concert, held in Lochaber to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the local Fèis, which will see young people from Fèisean come together from across the country to celebrate our outstanding young homegrown talent.

Every year a brand-new musical work is premiered at Blas Festival and this year it comes from Lochaber multi-instrumentalist, Ewen Henderson.

Lèirsinn (meaning perception in Gaelic) is an innovative new piece of music, born amid the travel restrictions in place during the Covid-19 pandemic, which explores the way humans relate and respond to the physical spaces and landscapes around them and how this, in some way, is shaped by the imagination.

For the performances, Ewen will be joined by a stellar line-up of musicians including Megan Henderson, Hamish Napier, Innes Watson, Iain MacFarlane and Su-a-Lee, in Nairn, Plockton and Kingussie.

Other highlights of this year’s Blas include double Mòd medallist, Ruairidh Gray with Robert Nairn, in Kilmuir and Invergarry; Capercaillie’s Charlie McKerron, piper Ross Ainslie, Tim Edey and Marc Clement in Acharacle and Ballachuilish; Gaelic singers Darren Maclean, Mairi Callan with Iain MacMaster in Dunvegan and Glenelg; and Deirdre Graham with The Graham Mackenzie Trio in Roybridge and Applecross.

Calum Alex Macmillan from Blas Festival organisers, Fèisean nan Gàidheal, commented:

“Despite the challenges of rising costs and reduced funding we are delivering on our commitment to bringing good quality musical events to communities across the Highlands, in collaboration with our partners, including the festival’s main supporter, The Highland Council. 

“We are hugely appreciative of the continued support from all our supporters and hope audiences across the Highlands and Islands will enjoy our representation of Gaelic culture.”

Siobhan Anderson, Music Officer at Creative Scotland said:

“The Blas 2023 programme is brim-full of exciting and innovative performances.

“Reaching into every corner of the Highlands and Islands, Blas is opening up Scotland’s vibrant and thriving Gaelic arts and culture scene for more people to enjoy.

“The incredible contributions of artists and organisations alike will be celebrated through concerts showing a strong admiration and appreciation for the tradition bearers who laid the foundations for the performers of today.

“New commissions and performances by local Fèisean will nourish the artists of tomorrow and bring delight to audiences across the area.”

Brian Ó hEadhra, Partnerships & Development Manager, Bòrd na Gàidhlig said:

“We are delighted to support the Blas Festival once again and contribute to the celebration of Gaelic music and culture.

“Through our partnership with Fèisean nan Gàidheal, Bòrd na Gàidhlig is committed to incorporating the Gaelic language throughout the festival, ensuring its rich heritage and traditions are showcased to audiences from near and far.”

The full programme of main events can be found at www.blas.scot along with details of how to purchase tickets.

Theid ceòl is cultar Gàidhealach a chomharrachadh air feadh na Gàidhealtachd is nan Eilean aig Fèis Blas san t-Sultain

Tillidh an fhèìs Ghàidhealach fad 9 làithean den t-Sultain

Nochdaidh cuid den luchd-ciùil is seinneadairean as motha spèis ann an Alba, leithid Ross Ainslie, Tim Edey, Jenna Chuimeanach, Ruairidh Gray, Eòghann MacEanraig agus Deirdre Ghreumach air an àrd-ùrlar ann an ionadan bhon Eilean Sgitheanach gu Àth Tharacaill san t-Sultain seo tighinn is Fèis Blas a’ tilleadh leis an taisbeanadh bhliadhnail de cheòl is cultar na Gàidhlig.

Bho 1 gu 9 Sultain 2023 cuiridh Fèis Blas an cèill cultar na Gàidhlig agus saoghal fallain an dual-chiùil Albannaich feadh naoi làithean de thachartasan ann an ionadan air feadh na Gàidhealtachd is nan Eilean agus am-bliadhna bidh 25 consairtean is cèilidhean ann, prògram foghlaim is choimhearsnachdan agus tairgse air loidhne anns am bi taighean-obrach, seiseanan òrain Ghàidhlig agus consairtean air an sruthadh beò.

Am-bliadhna tadhlaidh Blas, a tha air a chur air dòigh le Fèisean nan Gàidheal ann an co-bhoinn ri Comhairle na Gàidhealtachd, air grunn choimhearsnachdan air feadh an taobh tuath nam measg Inbhir Nis, Luirg, Geàrrloch, Bail’ a’ Chaolais a’ Chomraich, Port Rìgh, Cinn a’ Ghiùthsaich agus tuilleadh.  Cuiridh an fhèis cultar is dualchas saidhbhir na Gàidhealtachd an cèill le tachartasan a’ nochdadh measgan de dh’òrain eadar sean is ùr-nuadh, sgeulachdan agus co-obrachaidhean ann an caochladh ionadan eadar tallaichean baile is ionadan ealain, a’ tarraing luchd-èisteachd bho Alba is bho thall thairis.

Fosglaidh an fhèis le consairt sònraichte ann an Cathair-eaglais Inbhir Nis le dithist bhràithrean is pheathraichean, Peigi is Donaidh Barker à Inbhir Nis, agus dithist eile, Seumas is Caoimhe Uí Fhlatharta à Conamara air taobh an iar na h-Èirinn. Còmhla riutha bidh Binneas, còmhlan co-sheirm sa bheil seinneadairean Gàidhlig is dual-chiùìl bho air feadh na h-Alba, leis an t-seinneadair Gàidhlig Iain Iòsaph MacNìll air an ceann agus Jenna Chuimeanach, bana-sheinneadair Ghàidhlig à Inbhir Nis a tha air iomadh duais a chosnadh.

Mar as àbhaist, bithear a’ comharrachadh co-là-breith grunn luchd-dualchais dha bheil spèis, nam measg an seinneadair is am fear-ciùil Leòdhasach Calum Màrtainn (70); Rita Nic an t-Sealgair, a bha na cùl-taic do mhòran den t-suim a dh’fhàs ann an dual-cheòl air a’ Ghàidhealtachd agus a bha, gu 2008, os cionn na buidhne ealain soirbheachail, Fèis Rois, a tha stèidhichte ann an Inbhir Pheofharain; Murchadh Iain MacCoinnich, seinneadair agus ball de chòmhlan mhelòdeon Nis, a tha gu bhith 80; agus am pìobaire iomraiteach à Gleann Ùige, an Dr. Aonghas Dòmhnallach, aig a bheil cliù air feadh an t-saoghail. Nochdaidh daoine gu math aithnichte air an àrd-ùrlar leithid Dhòmhnall Sheathaich, Malcolm Jones, Fionnlagh Dòmhnallach, Ali Hutton, Iain MacPhàrlain, Ailean Dòmhnallach agus mòran a bharrachd.

Thèid ceanglaichean eadar-nàiseanta a chur an cèill cuideachd san Tinne, leis a’ bhana-sheinneadair Sgitheanach, Anna Mhàrtainn, aig a cheann. Na thuras-ciùil de dh’aithne is de rèite, tha an Tinne a’ co-cheangal cruinneachadh de dh’òrain, de sgeulachdan is de rudan dèante à Tròndairnis thar nan linntean eadar Alba is Astràilia agus bha moladh mòr air an obair-chiùil chumhachdaich seo nuair a nochd i a’ chiad uair san Eilean Sgitheanach an-uiridh. Còmhla ri Anna bidh Anna Mhoireach, Anna-Wendy NicSteaphain, Ingrid NicEanraig, Hannah Moule agus Maggie Rigby airson cluich ann an Cruaidh, Ruigh Solais agus Inbhir Ìonaid.

Bidh an ath-ghinealach de luchd-ciùil a’  cluich do luchd-èisteachd air feadh na fèise, nam measg luchd-ciùil bho Fhèis Eilean an Fhraoich, Fèis Thròndairnis, Fèis nan Garbh Chrìochan, Fèis an Earraich, Fèis Inbhir Narainn, Fèis Spè, Fèis Lochabair and Fìdhlearan Chill Tighearna aig Fèis Rois, a’  crìochnachadh le consairt dheireannach Ceòl nam Fèis ann an Loch Abar gus 30 bliadhna de dh’ fhèis an àite sin fhèin a chomharrachadh. Thig òigridh nam Fèisean còmhla bho air feadh na dùthcha airson an tàlant òg againn fhìn a shealltainn.

Gach bliadhna thèid obair-chiùil ùr-nuadh a chluich airson a’ chiad uair aig Fèis Blas agus am-bliadhna ‘s ann bhon Abrach ioma-ionnstramaideach, Eòghann MacEanraig, a tha e. ‘S e mìr ùr nuadh annasach a tha ann an Lèirsinn, a rinneadh am measg caimhleachadh siubhail ri linn galar Còbhad-19, ‘s a rannsaicheas mar a dhèiligeas is mar a fhreagras daoine air na h-àiteachan is na dreachan-tìre mun cuairt orra agus mar a tha seo gu ìre air a chumadh leis a’ mhac-meanmna. Aig na cluichean, còmhla ri Eòghann bidh luchd-ciùil ainmeil leithid Megan NicEanraig, Hamish Napier, Innes MacBhàtair, Iain MacPhàrlain agus Su-a-Lee ann an Inbhir Narann, sa Phloc agus ann an Cinn a’ Ghiùthsaich.

Am measg nam prìomh-chonsairtean Blas eile am-bliadhna tha am fear a fhuair Bonn Òr a’ Mhòid Ruairidh Gray còmhla ri Raibeart Nairn, ann an Cille Mhoire is ann an Inbhir Garadh; Teàrlach MacCéirin bho Chapercaillie, am pìobaire Ross Ainslie, Tim Edey agus Marc MacLaghmainn ann an Àth Tharacail agus am Bail’ a’ Chaolais; na seinneadairean Gàidhlig Darren MacIlleEathain, Màiri Callan còmhla ri Iain MacMhaighstir ann an Dùn Bheagan agus an Gleann Eilg; agus Deirdre Ghreumach còmhla ris an Triùir aig Greum MacCoinnich san Drochaid Ruaidh is air a’ Chomraich.

Thuirt Calum Ailig MacMhaolain aig Fèisean nan Gàidheal a’ bhuidheann a bhios a’ cur air dòigh Fèis Blas: “A dh’aindheoin duilgheadas chosgaisean a tha a’ sìor-èirigh agus lùghdachadh maoineachaidh, tha sinne a’ toirt gu buil ar gealltanais tachartasan ciùil sàr-mhath a thoirt do choimhearsnachdan air feadh na Gàidhealtachd, an co-bhoinn ri ar com-pàirtichean, nam measg prìomh-thaic na fèise, Comhairle na Gàidhealtachd. Tha sinn anabarrach taingeil às an taic leantainneach bho ar luchd-taice agus tha sinn an dòchas gun còrd na riochdaicheas sinn de chultar Ghàidhealach ri luchd-èisteachd air feadh na Gàidhealtachd is nan Eilean.”

Thuirt Siobhan Nic Anndrais, Oifigeach Ciùil Alba Chruthachail: “Tha clàr Blas 2023 loma-làn tachartasan inntinneach annasach. Ruigidh i a h-uile cùil den Ghàidhealtachd is de na h-Eileanan is fosglaidh i saoghal beothail ealan is cultar na Gàidhlig ann an Alba gus gum meal barrachd dhaoine e. Thèid a’ chluich mhìorbhaileach aig luchd-ealain is comainn mar aon a chomharrachadh tro chonsairtean a’ sealltainn meas is spèis do luchd-ealain an dualchais a stèidhich bunaitean an luchd-ciùil an latha an-diugh. Biathaidh coimiseanan ùra agus consairtean le fèisean ionadail luchd-ealain an latha a-màireach agus bheir e toileachas do luchd-èisteachd air feadh na mòr-roinne.”

Thuirt Brian Ó hEadhra, Manaidsear Chom-pàirteachasan is Leasachaidh aig Bòrd na Gàidhlig: “Tha sinne toilichte taic a chumail ri Fèis Blas aon uair eile ann a bhith a’ cur ri mealtainn ceòl is cultar na Gàidhlig. Tron chom-pàirteachas againn ri Fèisean nan Gàidheal, tha Bòrd na Gàidhlig an geall air cànain na Gàidhlig fhèin fhilleadh tron fhèis, a’ dèanamh cinnteach gun cuirear a dìleab is a dualchas saidhbhir an cèill don luchd-èisteachd fad is farsaing.”

Gheibhear làn-chlar nam prìomh thachartasan aig www.blas.scot le fiosrachadh air mar a ghabhas tiocaidean a cheannach.

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