IT’S hard to believe a music project that now includes a two-day festival with top headliners and a full bill of events around it was still just the seed of an idea eight months ago.
Emily Scott, who came up with the idea of AmaSing, still sounds incredibly enthusiastic despite all the work that has gone into the project.
The highest-profile part of that is the Strathpeffer festival showcasing 40 events across six venues on August 31 and September 1.
“It’s taking off – and it’s in 13 days’ time,” laughed Emily at her own hint of panic, realising it’s so close.
But the truth is it sounds as if a lot of people are pulling together behind AmaSing – now a community interest company.
“It just started off with me in December,” Emily said. “The music festival is our first major event. But I’m very lucky, I’ve been getting a lot of support.And I’ve got some pupils from Dingwall Academy who have the opportunity to get involved and they’re helping with everything from design to marketing and booking artists.
“I feel really supported by the local community – very lucky in that respect.”
Emily’s first idea was not wanting people from rural areas – youngsters in particular – feeling there’s nothing to do, or, that if you’re not in a town or city you’re excluded from things because of where you live.
She said: “You hear it every day ‘There’s nothing to do!’, but this shouldn’t be the case. I wanted AmaSing to make chances for people to take part in musical activities that were accessible to them.”
It sounds like a great plan. But even if you’re Emily, who has a degree in applied music from Strathclyde University, making it happen is still a major project.
She plays the violin, piano and guitar and is also a singer-songwriter, having studied opera along the way. As well as being a member of the National Youth Choir Of Scotland, among other music groups in Glasgow, she sang with a female acappella group called Ms Joe.
But it was heading to Germany on a scholarship to learn how to put together a social project that gave Emily the impetus to start AmaSing last December.
“It’s called The Do School and I spent three months in Hamburg. It encourages young people from all over the world to come up with their own social project. It can be in anything from music to theatre, to cooking – to peace!
“You focus on the speciality you want and learn how to make it happen.
“In the music group were people from Honduras to Vietnam to Tunisia – though I was the first Scot.
“When the next music people come along I can offer them help – particularly if they’re from Scotland.
“When I came back I decided to set up the project here in Strathpeffer.” Now the project aims to provide activities that let people meet up with others, play music and perform – particularly for 16 to 24-year-olds.
Emily said: “Throughout the year we want to have a weekly stream to encourage people into music, with music groups, to learn things like percussion, vocals and composing their own music.
“It will start in Strathpeffer but we hope to branch out and have weekly groups in different places.”
Alongside that, ambitious plans for a two-day festival grew. With hopes to involve the entire surrounding area,
rock group Kassidy headlines the first night on Saturday, August 31 and singer Eddi Reader will headline the closing night on Sunday, September 1.
And there’s a full programme of Highland musicians including Donnie Munro, The Whiskys and bands from further off, such as Edinburgh’s The Winter Tradition.
“It’s very multi-genre with lots of different artists and that was the idea,” says Emily.
“There will also be Q&A interviews with Eddi Reader and Kassidy so people have the opportunity to get to know the artists in a different way – but these events are for smaller numbers.”
And the world comes to Strathpeffer. Performances from musicians in Nepal and the US will be streamed in live.
AmaSing is happening in Strathpeffer with Kassidy headlining on Saturday, August 31 and Eddi Reader topping the bill on Sunday, September 1. For more information, go to www.amasing.co.uk