Youngsters at the heart of this year’s Blas Festival

More than 1000 people are to take part in a Highland music festival celebrating Scotland’s young musicians.

The programme for this year’s Blas Festival has been launched and revealed an outstanding line up of musicians from Scotland and further afield as well as some exciting opportunities for budding young musicians and composers.

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.

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.

Gaelic folk singer Julie Fowlis

Although young people have always featured in Blas, in this Year of Young People the festival will do more than ever to showcase the wealth of talent amongst Highland youngsters. Up and coming young musicians will feature in the majority of events and young people will gain invaluable marketing and event management experience through their key role in the organisation and promotion of this year’s festival which will be a major celebration of young people.

Following a Ceòl nam Fèis showcase concert at the Spa Pavilion in Strathpeffer on Friday 14 September, Blas will culminate in an enormous concert at the Northern Meeting Park in Inverness on Saturday 15; Òran Mòr meaning Great (or Big) Song, will feature over 1,000 young musicians from Fèisean across Scotland as well as various youth music groups and initiatives including the Highland Council Youth Music Groups and the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music.

The talented youngsters will take to the stage with the bands they have chosen including traditional music supergroups Skipinnish, Trail West and Breabach along with Brìghde Chaimbeul. A new Gaelic song written by Glasgow-based Gaelic student, Robbie MacLeòid, will be performed by every single musician taking part in the concert, the largest event Fèisean nan Gàidheal will have organised in its 30-year history.

Another young musician offered an exciting opportunity during the festival is Gaelic singer, Mischa Macpherson from Lewis. Mischa, who won the prestigious BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award in 2014, will perform her new commission, sponsored by Thorntons Investments, several times during Blas. Bho Èirigh gu Laighe na Grèine – Sun, Moon, Land, Life, Sea, is a suite of new Gaelic songs, incorporating ancient Gaelic poetry, photography and short films.

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.