Published: 05/08/2014 14:22 - Updated: 05/08/2014 14:36

Blas Festival celebrates Scotland's mountains

The Donnchadh Ban Boys, left to right, Ewen Robertson, Hamish Napier, Ewen Henderson and Iain MacFarlane.
The Donnchadh Ban Boys, left to right, Ewen Robertson, Hamish Napier, Ewen Henderson and Iain MacFarlane.

SCOTLAND’S natural heritage is celebrated in a new musical work commissioned for the 10th Blas Festival.

The new work has been created in collaboration with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), and its premiere will take place at the organisation’s headquarters, Great Glen House in Inverness, on Friday 5th September, the opening night of Blas.

One of Gaelic’s greatest ever songs, Moladh Beinn Dobhrain (In praise of Ben Doran) by the Argyll poet Duncan Bàn MacIntyre, provided a focus for the commission and one of the legacies is a recording of Brigadier Iain MacFarlane of Taynuilt, a third generation native Argyll Gaelic speaker and Gaelic Society of Inverness Chieftain, reading the complex poem in entirety.

The poem itself is just one component of the production entitled Mìorbhail nam Beann (The Wonder of the Mountains).

Renowned fiddler Iain MacFarlane of Glenfinnan, formerly of Blazin’ Fiddles, has been commissioned to create Miobhaill nam Beann, a bilingual performance using music, images and words to explore the past and present relationship between people land and culture, through the work of Duncan Ban.

For this commission he has joined fellow Highland musicians Ewen Henderson (Mànran), Ewan Robertson (Breabach) and Hamish Napier (Back of the Moon) to form The Donnchadh Bàn Boys.

Following its premiere at Great Glen House in Inverness on 5th, Mìorbhail nam Beann will be performed at Glengarry Community Hall on Saturday 6th; Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Skye on Thursday 11th; Ullapool’s MacPhail Centre on Friday 12th and at Taynuilt Village Hall on Saturday 13th September.

SHN chairman Ian Ross said the organisation was delighted to support this year’s Blas Festival, which showcases Highland music, language and culture.

"Duncan Bàn’s songs and poetry deal with the complex relationship between people, culture and the stunning landscapes of the Highlands," Ross said.

"Our support for Blas showcases Donnchadh Ban’s work which explores modern concepts of ecosystems and sustainability. It leaves us a legacy as we mark his words and the role we at SNH have to play in terms of looking after our precious landscapes, plants and animals."

The Blas festival, one of the Highlands most successful arts events, has reached a significant milestone with Blas 2014 marking the festival’s tenth anniversary and with events spread across 50 venues in the Highlands and Argyll.

Blas Festival Director, Donna Macrae, said: "We are delighted to be collaborating with SNH on Mìorbhail nam Beann and continuing the trend of creating new works with this being the eleventh new commission Blas has brought to Highland audiences."

The majority of Blas events will this year also offer an added bonus to audiences with the presence of local food and drink producers at most venues with free samples of their produce.

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