BLAS offers a taste of Highland culture

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The Blas Festival makes a virtue of bringing good quality events to venues large and small across the Highland offering the opportunity for communities to celebrate Highland culture.  This year’s festival, taking place from 1 to 9 September, will be no exception.

The 13th festival lineup has been published and among many highlights will be special events celebrating the 80th birthdays of four icons of Gaelic Culture - Kenna Campbell, Fergie MacDonald, Morag MacLeod and Finlay MacLeod.  The 2017 Blas Commission - Dìleab Uilleim - explores the Gaelic song legacy of Rev William Matheson, one of Scotland’s foremost collectors and authorities on Gaelic song.  Those shows will feature introductions to the songs by Jo MacDonald and performances from Robert Robertson, Rachel Walker, Ross Wilson, Alasdair Whyte, Eilidh Cormack, Linda Macleod, Allan MacDonald and Christine Primrose.

Mary Ann Kennedy will be performing songs from her new album An Dàn and Gary Innes will be performing his new album Era.  A CD of Lauren MacColl’s Fèis Rois Commission The Seer will be launched at two performances during Blas and Glòir nan Caman: Shinty’s Heroes will return with Hugh Dan MacLennan and a host of fine musicians focusing this time round on PM William Lawrie from Ballachulish.  Two Fèisean - Fèis Lochabair and Fèis na h-Òige - will host concerts celebrating their 25th anniversaries.

As if that weren’t enough, there will also be performances by new Gaelic song trio Sian [Ceitlin LR Smith, Eilidh Cormack & Ellen MacDonald], Duncan Chisholm, The Mischa Macpherson Trio, Breabach, Skipinnish, Skerryvore, Sharon Shannon, The Angus Nicolson Trio, Donald Black Band, Ireland’s Fidil and Canada’s MacIsaac & MacKenzie.  An array of the finest Gaelic singers complete the lineup including Mairi MacInnes, Margaret Stewart, Rona Lightfoot, Ewan John Morrison, David Mackenzie, Murdo ‘Wasp’ MacDonald, Mary Catherine MacNeil, Freddie Mackenzie as well as Dingwall and Inverness Gaelic Choirs.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, said: “The Blas Festival is an important event for the Highland community and for people across Scotland. This year’s programme, with a wide offer of outstanding cèilidhs, concerts and some new and original features, will promote Highland culture to communities countrywide.  Blas represents a key part of the Highland cultural exchange and the Scottish Government is committed to further supporting its growth, which will enrich Scotland’s cultural life and contribute to the promotion of Gaelic in Scotland.”

Cllr Alasdair Christie, Chair of The Highland Council's People Committee said: “The Blas Festival is achieving a great deal, showcasing traditional music and Gaelic song to communities across the Highlands.  The Highland Council supports traditional music and Gaelic song through a number initiatives and organisations, such as Fèisean nan Gàidheal the umbrella body which manages and supports the local Fèisean, Fèis Rois, the Provincial Mòds and the Royal National Mòd.  While the Council has reduced resources which makes service delivery increasingly challenging, I look forward to another successful Blas in 2017 and encourage audiences to attend these concerts to experience quality musicianship and to enjoy the best of Gaelic and Traditional music and culture that Scotland has to offer.”

Claire Byers, Interim Director, Arts and Engagement at Creative Scotland said: “Creative Scotland is proud to support Blas in bringing great quality music to intimate venues across the Highlands.  This year’s programme looks as excellent as ever, honouring some of the true legends in Gaelic singing whilst also promoting exciting new emerging artists on the scene. Fèisean nan Gàidheal have created a diverse programme which is sure to inspire young musicians and captivate audiences.”

Bòrd na Gàidhlig Ceannard (CEO), Shona MacLennan said: “Bòrd na Gàidhlig is delighted once again to be supporting the Blas Festival which remains one of the major highlights on the events calendar in the Highlands and Islands.  Bòrd na Gàidhlig supports the promotion of traditional and contemporary Gaelic arts, music and culture throughout Scotland and internationally and events such as Blas provide a major platform to encourage people to learn and use the Gaelic language. Blas also continues to place great emphasis on the importance of community and this is an ideal fit with Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s priorities. We wish everyone involved in Blas 2017 every success.”

Joanna Peteranna, Senior Development Manager at HIE, based in Benbecula, said: “HIE’s support for arts and culture complements our work to develop the creative industries growth sector. As well as supporting and promoting talent and creativity, the Blas festival attracts newcomers and returners to the Highlands and Islands. It allows young and aspiring musicians the opportunity to tour and perform at local venues across the region and we are delighted to support it.”

Fèisean nan Gàidheal Chief Executive, Arthur Cormack, said: “We are grateful for the continued support of The Highland Council, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Creative Scotland, Argyll and Bute Council and Comhairle nan Leabhraichean. For the first time Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is supporting us and we are also very happy that Marine Harvest have agreed to sponsor certain elements of Blas 2017.  We are looking forward to an exciting festival and to welcoming the many friends who come to the Highlands annually to attend events, as well as those resident in the area.”

The full festival programme is now available at www.blas-festival.com where full details of all events and how to buy tickets can be found.

17 Jul 2017
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