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Blas - A New Highland Music Festival

19th August 2005

A new Highland music festival begins this year with preformances all over the Highlands. From the tradition bearers appearing in 'An Tobar', to the 'young bright stars' in the firmament of Gaelic music from Scotland and internationally, Blas represents and brings Highland-wide all that is beautiful and lasting in our traditional musical culture and Gaelic language.

Artists come from all areas and this new festival runs from 2nd to 10th September 2005.

There are three events in Caithness but if you live in the county and love Celtic music you might want ot head to one of the more far flung parts. If you are thinking about visiting the Highlands in September why not book tickets now for one or two of these traditional music feasts to hear some of the very best musicians and singers in the Highlands and heading from various parts for the festival.

The Festival organisers have created a new web site with full detials of all shows and musicians. The web site is in english and Gaelic and contains details of the shows and performers as well as links to ticket purchase online. Head over to Blas Festival

From tradition bearers such as Rona Lightfoot, Angus Grant and all of those performing as part of 'An Tobar', to the 'young bright stars' in the firmament of Gaelic music like Julie Fowlis, as well as our Canadian cousins The Barra MacNeils and Irish musicians Seumas Begley and Jim Murray, Blas represents and brings Highland-wide all that is beautiful and lasting in our traditional musical culture and Gaelic language. Don't miss a single show!

Blas has been devised by The Highland Council in partnership with Fisean nan Gidheal and the Promoters Arts Network.The first Blas festival will take place this year, and will be funded by The Highland Council and the National Lottery through the Millennium Commission. The Highland Council has contracted Fisean nan Gidheal to work with PAN and others to develop this festival for the Highlands.It is our hope to work with anyone who would like to be part of the festival, and we hope we will succeed and that Blas will grow from year to year into an international celebration of Highland music and Gaelic, and become an important part of Highland 2007, the Scottish Year of Highland Culture

The Barra MacNeils grew up on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, where they learned step-dancing from their mother and the traditional music which was part of their community. Since forming in 1986 this family band has established a worldwide reputation as one of Canada's premier acts.

Born and brought up on the Island of Barra, and now living in Canada, Cathy Ann MacPhee is a highly regarded Gaelic singer and actress.

From the Marine Hotel in Mallaig, to the Hyundi Hotel in Ulsan, South Korea, Skipinnish have consistently delighted audiences at a huge number of performances in many diverse locations.

Christine Primrose grew up steeped in Gaelic tradition. Since the release of her first recording, 'ite mo Ghaoil' in 1982, she has played a pivotal role in a revival of interest in Gaelic song that has swept far beyond Scotland.

Raised in Uist, and involved with piping, singing and dancing from an early age, Julie Fowlis has built up a reputation as a singer was confirmed when she was named Winner of the prestigious Pan-Celtic Sean-Ns singing competition in 2004, which took place in Tralee, Ireland.

Rona Lightfoot was brought up in one of the most culturally rich families in South Uist. Her mother gave the Gaelic speaking world one of the best archive collections of Gaelic songs, and from her father, Rona inherited the mantle of the famous Macdonald pipers of South Uist.Thogadh Rona Lightfoot ann an Uibhist a deas.

Mary Smith has performed all over Europe and North America, as well as Australia and New Zealand, making her debut recording in New Zealand.

Born and brought up on Lewis, Calum Alex MacMillan began singing and piping from an early age. He won the Md Gold Medal in 2002 and the Traditional Gold Medal in 2004, and the prestigious Seann Ns Competition at the Pan-Celtic Festival in Tralee in April 2005.

Winner of the 2004 BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award, James Graham has played at Vancouver and Winnipeg as well as making his debut CD.

Anna Massie was winner of the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year Award in 2003. With her band's performances at Celtic Connections, Shetland, Orkney, Hebridean Celtic and Tnder festivals, these talented young women's careers go from strength to strength.Cmhlan a tha gu mr air aire dhaoine an-drsta.

Alison Kinnaird is a harper. Harper is the term that's usually applied to exponents of the small harp. Her collaboration with researcher Keith Sanger, Tree of Strings (1992), is the definitive history of the Scottish harp.

A six-piece band, in their years together Cliar have developed a unique close harmony vocal sound backed up by an instrumental powerhouse that has been described as "one of the most beautiful sounds in 21st Century Scotland

Dimh offer a fresh, up to date approach to traditional music. An exciting combination of musicians hailing from Cape Breton Island, Ireland, and the West Highlands of Scotland.

Put together by Charlie MacKerron, Capercaillie's famous fiddler, Session A9 is a group of stellar traditional musicians.

A celebrity performer and composer of Highland-style music, from Fort William,
Angus Grant is one of our 'Tradition

Dingwall Gaelic Choir are regular Winners of the prestigious Lovat and Tullibardine Shield, the top award for choral singing at the Royal National Md. This choir is at the top of our cultural tree.

Five girls, and one lad from across Scotland, with Gaelic, Shetland and Irish influences, Dchas have taken the traditional music scene by storm, exuding professionalism and rare talent throughout their performances of traditional music and song.

Raised in Glenuig, Allan MacDonald started piping at the age of nine at the Queen Victoria School in Dunblane. A winner of the gold medal at the Northern Meeting in 1984 and the gold clasp in 1989 and 1990, he is one of Scotland's foremost authorities on pobaireachd and its relationship with Gaelic song.

Katie MacKenzie is a student at the RSAMD studying Gaelic Song and Clrsach. She has worked with Karen Matheson of Capercaillie and sung with her on several occasions, most recently on BBC Scotland's "Hogmanay Live".

Gordon Gunn is one of Scotland's most accomplished fiddle players who regularly plays at concerts, festivals, with his own band - The Gordon Gunn Band - and with Session A9.

Born in Glenfinnan, and being taught the fiddle by his father and Donald Riddell, Iain MacFarlane graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama with a BA in Traditional Music. Since then he has been teaching at many Fisean, festivals and schools, and currently plays with the award-winning Blazin' Fiddles.

Dr Angus MacDonald is one of three piping brothers from Glenuig in Moidart. Angus was one of the founders of the successful Fis Bharraigh, designed to stimulate Gaelic music and language.

Gizzenbriggs is a traditional music group based in Tain Royal Academy; the aim of the group is to encourage young people to be involved in traditional music - both instrumental and vocal, and dance. The group has played in many different venues, from the opening of the Scottish Parliament to the State Capital Building, Montana.

Meantime are building a growing reputation as a young band with a powerful presence in Gaelic music, both vocal and instrumental, new and traditional. All four members are Gaelic speakers, and all four sing.

Rachel Walker was brought up in Kinlochewe, and began singing in Gaelic at an early age. Since then she has studied Gaelic song at the RSAMD and performed throughout Scotland, as well as at festivals in Ireland, Spain and France.

Another of our 'Tradition Bearers', Fergie MacDonald has been Scotland's top cilidh band leader for almost half a century.

A co-founder and actor/musician with Fir Chlis, Scotland's first Gaelic Theatre Company, and a past member of both Ossian and The Battlefield Band, Iain MacDonald is one of our foremost pipers.

Graham Mackenzie, from Inverness, is emerging as one of the brightest talents on the traditional music scene. At the Open Stage at this year's Celtic Connections, Graham became the youngest ever Danny Award winner.ganach eile a tha a' cosnadh cli dha fhin.

The Tassle Bandits is a group of young traditional musicians from the Highlands, who took the honours at Celtic Connections in Glasgow last year by becoming one of the youngest six acts to win a prestigious Danny Kyle Award.

Another Mod Gold Medallist, Jenna Cumming is described by Mary Ann Kennedy as "a young woman with a stunning voice with one of the most naturally beautiful 'seann ns' voices I have ever heard in a young person

Sgoil Chiil na Gidhealtachd is the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music based in Plockton, and this group features some of the country's most promising young musicians and singers.

Lauren MacColl is the holder of the prestigious BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award 2004. In the past few years her playing has taken her to Montana, Italy, France, Norway, Galway, Co. Mayo and across Britain.

If it's a shot in the arm you're after, Ireland's Seamus Begley and Jim Murray are the men to call on. Seumas Begley has been recreating the old magic of box and guitar, ably accompanied by Jim Murray over many years.

The North Highland Fiddlers were formed in 2000, and the current line-up consists of fiddlers with drums and keyboard accompaniment, including some of the best fiddlers from the North Highland College Traditional Music Department in Alness.

Blas Festival

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