September 5, 2008

Flavoursome Festival Brings New Work to the Highlands


THE fourth Blas festival opens in Inverness tonight . . . and in Strontian, Raasay, Glenelg, Ullapool, Nairn, Lochinver and Wick as well.

Because Blas - Gaelic for taste or flavour - is all about delivering a modern festival to village halls in some of the most remote and peripheral communities in the land .

The event grew out of Highland Council's desire to create a new festival for the Highlands which would match the vitality of Cape Breton's Celtic Colours Festival, and Fisean nan Gaidheal, the organisation which promotes community-based Gaelic festivals throughout Scotland, helped develop it.

The week-long Blas continues the progress it achieved in the first three years, with tickets selling at almost double last year's record levels.

This year there are 45 events featuring acts such as the Chieftains, Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain, the Glenuig Macdonald brothers and Julie Fowlis.

Fowlis, who has achieved international acclaim for her work, is to provide an exclusive opportunity for her audience to hear a new collaborative album she has completed with Irish singer Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh and renowned musicians Eamon Doorley and Ross Martin.

Festival director Donna MacRae said yesterday: "Blas is showing that taking a festival out into the communities of Scotland can deliver economic and cultural benefits " Blas would continue to make a virtue of featuring homegrown talent alongside internationally- renowned traditional musicians, she said Meanwhile culture minister Linda Fabiani commended the decentralising agenda of the festival: "Blas demonstrates the very best of our traditional music and takes this straight to the heart of Highland communities.

"This Government supports a strong, diverse and confident cultural life in Scotland - and the Gaelic language and culture is right at the very heart of this."

In Inverness on Saturday, there is a very special event with the performance of Dealbh Dthcha (portrait of the country), Scotland's only representation in the Portrait of a Nation, a Heritage Lottery funded project that brings together 17 cities throughout the UK.

The work was commissioned from Highland composer and artist, Blair Douglas and will be performed by 30 of the young musicians, singers and dancers from the Highlands & Islands Fisean.

Originally published by Newsquest Media Group.

(c) 2008 Herald, The; Glasgow (UK). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.