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North Highland Connections - February 2009 Newsletter

22nd February 2009

Photograph of North Highland Connections - February 2009 Newsletter

The Hebrides Ensemble presents 'On The Brink'. Marking the seventieth anniversary of the start of World War II. Against a background of visual representations, the programme is cantered on Bartok's great sixth string quartet, written in 1939.

22/02/09 (Sunday) The Collegiate Church, Tain, at 7:30pm "On the Brink"
Bookings call: 01955 - 606695 (7 or 5 concessions )

24/02/09 (Tuesday) MacPhail Center Ullapool, at 7:30pm "On the Brink"
Bookings call: 01854 - 613336 (7 or 5 concessions)

21/03/09 (Saturday), at Mackays Hotel, Wick, starting at 9:00pm. Join us for an evening with renowned singer and song-writer Rab Noakes. Described in Go Magazine as "The closest Scotland has to musical royalty."
Bookings call: 01955-606695 (10)

More Information about events on March will be announce shortly!

About North Highland Connections
North Highland Connections, officially launched by HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, on 4th August, 2008, started effective life in late-May. Between June and November we offered twenty-one different events in fifteen venues across the huge North Highland region which we aim to serve. Our programmes, embracing music, lecture, poetry drama - and our 'Young Artistes' series - drew heavily and intentionally on our links with our partners. Our formal link to the Royal Scottish academy of Music & Drama brought several student residencies which all included a public performance element. Our links to Oran Mor's Glasgow Lunchtime Theatre Company has allowed us to bring professional drama to tour widely. Our very good links with Grey Coast Theatre Company were invaluable in giving us access to professional stage management, and also gave opportunities for some young local people to assist and gain experience in the area of stage management.

Like all arts promoters we have to fight hard to find the funding needed to offer these programmes. It is not surprising that some who are in the same fund-raising boat are inclined to assume that an organization which has The Prince's name linked to it, is somehow in a privileged position so far as funding is concerned. Nothing could be further from the truth! Indeed, I suspect that some funders hold back because they assume our needs are less great than others! So every cent we raise is by way of dogged hard work. Indeed, fund raising is one of my daily activities, and is likely to remain so.

Despite continued financial uncertainty we are going ahead in confidence and determination. Our partnerships mentioned above, along with a special relationship with North Highland Tourism, and a hoped-for new relationship with the Edinburgh College of Art, give us a wonderful basis for our work. We have always said that our purpose is to work with others; 'Connection' is what we are about!

This wonderful region has much to offer, and much that we want to share with people from further afield. We are planning a series of cultural weekends in partnership with some of the hotel members of NHT. They will aim to increase tourism in the years to come. They will also have an impact on the local economy.

Economic regeneration is a phrase never far from the minds of leaders in the North Highlands, and NHC is determined to work with others to achieve their aims. We all know that there are any number of reports proving the value of an active and quality cultural life in the sustaining of communities, improving the quality of life, and encouraging new commercial investment and population growth. I often quote a phrase from a report commissioned in the Midlands a few years ago: 'Economic regeneration is incomplete without a cultural dimension'. Few funding bodies would disagree with that - until it comes to backing it with investment!

Before leaving the subject of funding, I must acknowledge the generous support of the Esme Fairbairn Foundation and the Robertson Trust. Further grants for programme activity are in the final stages of decision making; we hope for a lot more good news!

What's going on in February
Our 2009 programme sets out at the end of this month. On Sunday, 22nd February, we will present The Hebrides Ensemble at the Collegiate Church in Tain, at 7:30pm. This wonderful venue will be used for a number of events this year, and it is an inspiring space. The Ensemble programme marks the seventieth anniversary of the start of World War II, in 1939. The central work is the great 6th String Quartet of Bela Bartok. Other works composed in the concentration camps will be included. Despite the conditions the music shows amazing optimism and beauty - a vision of a brighter future. The music will be performed against a backdrop of visual images. Tickets are 7 and 5 (concessions). They may be reserved by calling 01955-606696, or e-mailing MF[AT] The Hebrides programme can also be heard in Ullapool on Tuesday, 24th February, at 7:30pm, at the MacPhail Centre. Ticket prices are the same, and can be reserved by calling 01854 613336.

NHC in 2009
Plans will be announced very soon for a series of drama tours, beginning in March. We will also be announcing a series of RSAMD residencies. This year they will include jazz, dance, strings, and a special research project led by Phil Cunningham on Traditional Scottish Music. Linked to this project will be a series of six or eight workshops to be held at the Castletown Heritage Centre in the autumn, arranged in collaboration with Castletown Heritage Society. This will be led by the well known Nancy Nicolson, who will lead an all-age group in discovering something of the rich heritage of local songs, and will help in creating new songs. A final public performance, to be recorded for future
generations on video, will allow others to hear the fruits of their labours.

A partnership with RSAMD and our own efforts will result in an exciting Creative Music Week at the end of June. This will be based in Thurso. Led by the well known conductor, Nicholas Cleobury, it will include composition students from the RSAMD alongside students from schools in the North Highlands. A professional ensemble will be in residence to work with the students and to perform the work they create. Public performances will be given at the end of the week. Composers Rory Boyle and Anna Meredith are included in the line up of established composers who will be guiding the work of the young composers. We are negotiating over the possibility that the ensemble-in-residence will be the celebrated Fessenden Ensemble, from Washington DC. This would be their first Scottish tour, and after spending a week with the students they will tour in three other venues of the North Highlands, performing programmes of American and British chamber music.

I am delighted to say that we will this year be associated with the established 'Variations' chamber music week in Ullapool, featuring the Edinburgh Quartet, 1st -8th August. More information on this in due course. We will also continue our successful 'Young Artistes' series, offering a platform to young and emerging professionals, often with family links to the North Highlands. The first, in early April, will be given by a sixteen year old protg, Evelyne Berezovsky, still a student at the Menuhin School for gifted young performers. Many will know of her famous pianist father, Boris Berezovsky.

Please continue to spread the word about NHC, especially if you hear of a programme in your area which would interest a friend or family member. Do encourage people to sign up on our website to receive our regular e-mail newsletters.


Dr. Graham Elliott
Executive Director
North Highland Connections


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