The internationally-renowned Hebridean Celtic Festival will mark the Year of Young People 2018 by bringing together 20 musicians aged between 12 and 16 from throughout the Western Isles to perform a suite of traditional music and Gaelic songs.
The celebration has been organised by HebCelt and Fèisean nan Gàidheal, the umbrella association of the Fèis (Gaelic arts tuition festival) movement.
HIE is supporting the project, along with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) and Lewis Wind Power, which also sponsors the Islands Stage.
Bill McMillan, HIE’s head of business growth in the Western Isles, said:
“Creative industries is a key sector for us and music is a huge part of that. The Western Isles has a wealth of local musical talent and is a location of choice for many people working in music and other forms of creative industries. We are delighted to be supporting this excellent showcasing opportunity for young talent, especially during the Year of Young People, and look forward to seeing the shows take shape.”
The final suite will feature a new, specially-commissioned Gaelic song by singer songwriter Eilidh Mackenzie, from Lewis, which will get its public debut on the main festival stage.
Eilidh, who comes from a family of Gaelic singers, is a former Mod Gold Medal winner. She has been tutoring Gaelic song for 25 years and in 2005 devised, co-wrote and produced the first ever Gaelic musical, Taigh Màiri Anndra, celebrating the life and work of American folklorist Margaret Fay Shaw.
Building on the relationships grown with Fèisean nan Gàidheal, local fèisean in the Outer Hebrides and other youth arts groups, the project will draw from their rich resources to assemble the group of young musicians.
The suite of music will be made up of about ten minutes from each of the groups performing material from their own area, followed by an ensemble piece which will include the newly-commissioned music and song.
HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan said: “The islands are blessed with so many skilled musicians and this project in the Year of Young People will showcase that wonderful talent.
“The festival is always eager to encourage and promote young artists and we are excited to be able to present this project on the main stage, which places the performance amongst our headline shows.”
Anna Murray is involved with the project as a tutor for Fèis Eilean an Fhraoich and as a traditional Gaelic music tutor for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
She said: “This project, which literally puts our young people centre stage, highlights the important work of the fèis movement and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar's commitment to showcasing young people from across the islands and will be a wonderful addition to this year’s HebCelt”
Kerry Macphee, Community Liaison for Lewis Wind Power, said: "Lewis Wind Power is delighted to be able to help finance this fantastic piece of island culture which will highlight the amazing musical talent that is still so abundant across the Western Isles.
“We became aware of the project through conversations on our continued sponsorship of the Islands Stage at the festival, and we knew straight away that it was something we wanted to support.
“It's a fantastic way of bringing young and talented people from across the islands together and we are looking forward to what should be a memorable performance.”