A name synonymous with all things related to Highland bagpipes will be centre of attraction on the first day of this September’s Blas festival.
The music of the late great piper, Pipe Major Donald Macleod MBE, will be showcased in Crossing the Minch; a project dreamt up by The Big Music Society, led by world class pipers Calum MacCrimmon (Breabach and Tryst) and John Mulhearn (Tryst).
Crossing the Minch will commemorate the outstanding music of Donald, from the Isle of Lewis, who was arguably the most influential piper and composer of the 20th century.
The two-night tour, which will visit An Lanntair in Stornoway on 7 September and Ullapool Village Hall on 8 September, will wow audiences with a unique showcase of Donald Macleod’s music featuring special guests including James Duncan Mackenzie (Breabach), Innes White (Assynt), Fiona MacAskill (Kinnaris Quintet) and the Glenfinnan Cèilidh Band.
With a concert performance in the first half and a cèilidh dance in the second half, bringing your dancing shoes is highly recommended.
Calum MacCrimmon, The Big Music Society, said: ‘Never before has one figure’s music been more resonant and influential on the Scottish traditional scene than that of Pipe Major Donald Macleod. It has been a real treat bringing together some of today’s leading players from Lewis, Skye and the Highlands to perform this legendary man’s back catalogue in one special show.’
Alix Aburn, the granddaughter of another 20th century piping legend, John Burgess MBE, and one of the Blas Festival’s Youth Ambassadors working with the festival to celebrate the Year of Young People 2018, said: ‘Although he died in 1982 young pipers and players of other instruments are very mindful of the legacy of Pipe Major Donald Macleod.
‘His tunes are still played regularly by young players and it is fitting that Blas will mark the great composer’s work in Crossing the Minch, the title of one of his best-loved tunes.’
Blas, which means ‘taste’ or ‘sample’, is organised by Fèisean nan Gàidheal in partnership with The Highland Council and will take place from 7-15 September.
It aims to celebrate Gaelic culture and the thriving Scottish traditional music scene over nine days of concerts, cèilidhs and larger events in venues across the Highlands and Islands.
Blas has introduced some exciting opportunities for young people to design and deliver some of the main events at this year’s festival, supported by the Year of Young People 2018 event fund, managed by EventScotland, part of VistScotland’s Events Directorate.
Other headline acts at this year’s Blas, which takes place at venues from Bernera to Applecross and Portree to Portmahomack, include Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis, two previous winners of BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards, Mischa Macpherson and Brìghde Chaimbeul, Celtic rock group Wolfstone, who will perform at Blas for the first time, award-winning folk band Breabach, young electronic Celtic fusion group, Niteworks and the highly-acclaimed RURA.
Two icons of Gaelic culture, Alasdair Gillies and Dolina Maclennan, will be celebrating their 80th birthdays with special events in Skye and Lewis featuring hand-picked artistes. And as Runrig embark on their Final Mile, Trail West will celebrate 40 years since the release of the band’s ground-breaking Play Gaelic, playing the songs from that album at two concerts during the festival.
The full programme of events can be found at www.blas-festival.com along with details of how to purchase tickets, including special prices for Young Scot cardholders.