From throat singing to jazz theatre…

By Roz Macaskill

Mongolian throat singers, jazz theatre and traditional music – all and some more will be brought to you this year from SEALL.
SEALL (Skye Events for All) have been entertaining locals and visitors since 1991 with over 1,808 events! Their eclectic range includes opera, traditional music, jazz, comedy and theatre. Over 70 events have been booked for the year-round programme in 2018, many of which will feature in the Skye Festival.

The Skye Festival/Fèis an Eilein will take place between 3 July and 21 August 2018. The line-up includes ceilidhs, opera, jazz, piping and singing.

Duncan MacInnes, the Artistic Director, says the performance he is most looking forward to is that of the Mongolian Anda Union Singers in late May.

Read more: From throat singing to jazz theatre…

Festival brings 30 shows together 

Skye’s award-winning Gaelic singer Anne Martin opens this year’s Fèis an Eilein, the Skye Festival, on Wednesday 5 July. 

Anne presents Ceumannan —her innovative international song collaboration with vocal sculptor Jason Singh — which comes fresh from its launch in Hull's City of Culture programme, on its way to London's South Bank. 

The festival, organised by SEALL (Skye Events for All), takes place between 4 July and 28 August and will showcase over 30 events in music, dance, theatre, circus and film, alongside a community-led Fringe programme. 

Events include performances from Let's Circus, Alastair Fraser's Fiddle night, NYOS Jazz Orchestra, Eduardo Niebla, Charlie McKerron, Adam 
Sutherland, Mairearad Green, Christine Primrose, Margaret Stewart and many other singers, pipers and musicians, along with a variety of Fringe events, ceilidhs, cafés and house concerts. 

For further information and to book tickets contact 01471 844207 or visit 

Based in Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Sleat, SEALL also produces a year-round programme of high quality performing arts events for all ages and tastes. 

Jazz and string quartet, New Focus, bring their “highly organic and lyrical collaboration” to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in south Skye on 20 May.  The Kelvin Ensemble Orchestra celebrates a decade of being one of Scotland’s leading non-professional chamber orchestras with a concert on 1 June. 

Britain’s popular alternative stand-up comedian, Jeremy Hardy, brings an evening of hilarity to An Crùbh, Sleat’s newest venue near Isleornsay, on 15 June, and dance takes centre stage with performances from SkyeDance on 17 June and Lorayne McLucas Dance on 30 June and 1 July. 

After a highly-acclaimed concert at Celtic Connections this year, Ailie Robertson and friends stop off in the south of Skye to perform their exciting song project, The Secret North, on 21 June. 

For tickets, programme and information visit or pick up a brochure from one of many outlets across Skye. 

Gaelic Americana...from Alaska to Sleat and beyond!  

By Katie Macleod  

American singer-songwriter Kyle Carey spent her early years in Alaska, grew up in New Hampshire and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York – yet to
hear her speak Gaelic, you could be forgiven for thinking she was an islander. 

That’s all thanks to the year she spent at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, studying An Cùrsa Comais from 2009 to 2010. “Oh my gosh, it was honestly – still – the best year of my life,” says Kyle of being immersed in Gaelic in Sleat. “There was structure, and I was doing something I was passionate about, and I had a really nice group of friends there. All of that just made for a really wonderful experience.” 

Despite being “probably the most clueless in the whole course,” Kyle found herself reaching basic fluency after just three months, success she attributes to sticking rigidly to the campus language policy.  

“A lot of people do revert to English after class, but if you do choose to surround yourself with people that don’t, you are basically in the full immersion environment, which is so rare to get as an English speaker really anywhere, and that’s kind of the key to fluency.” 

Read more: Gaelic Americana...from Alaska to Sleat and beyond!  

Linking tunes with images…by Freeland Barbour

Writer for The Skye Magazine, Katie Macleod - now based in New York and author of - interviews musician and composer Freeland Barbour before his visit to the Skye Book Festival on September 1.

“I always wanted to play,” says Freeland Barbour of his introduction to Scottish music. “Though I had piano lessons from age five to about 14, it was the accordion that took my fancy, goodness knows why.  Maybe I liked its dissonance!”
The hugely successful multi-instrumentalist – who has founded two cèilidh bands, been a member of four, held the role of music producer with BBC Radio Scotland, and was the first accordion tutor on the traditional music degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – will be at the Skye Book Festival on September 1st to discuss his latest project, The Music and the Land.
“The books are huge!” says Freeland of the two-volume work, published by Birlinn, which reaches more than 700 pages. “About 35 years ago I had the idea to link tunes that I had written with photographs of the places that had inspired me to write them.”  To do that, he enlisted the help of two photographers, Robin Gillanders from Edinburgh, and Cailean Maclean from Skye, who will be chairing the event at the Aros Centre.
The books are divided into geographical chapters, with introductions from well-known figures in the Scottish music world, including the likes of Dougie Maclean, Phil Cunningham, and Runrig’s Calum Macdonald. “I feel so lucky to have so many talented folk make a contribution to my efforts,” says Freeland.
In Scotland, the music and the land are inextricably linked – a link alluded to in the work’s title.  As Freeland explains, “Traditional or folk music generally relates to the topography that it has sprung from, and because Scotland has such a varied landscape, we have quite a large range of style relating to these various landscapes.”
In fact, it was the view from Glen Fincastle of the hills above Blair Atholl, on a clear summer’s evening, that inspired the initial idea that became The Music and the Land. “I wrote a melody, and thought it would be good to have a picture of the scene as well, for those who would not be familiar with it.” With that, the motion for the books was set in place.
For the photography in the books, Freeland said he “was keen that we showed aspects of the countryside that perhaps don’t make it onto calendars and postcards, and I’m pleased with the results… I knew Cailean would straight away understand the link I was trying to reinforce, and of course he did. I armed him with a list of possible places and people, and what he came back with is, I think, stunning.”
“I think it’s fantastic that Skye has its own book festival,” continues Freeland. “It’s terrific to see cultural variety all over the land, and book festivals have a big part to play.”  At the Skye Book Festival, Cailean, whose photographs will be on show during the session, will be joining Freeland in discussion. And as Freeland reveals, “I’ll play a tune or two as well, and there’ll be a few reminisces I’m sure, and one or two faintly humorous tales perhaps!”


Runrig boys receive Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s prestigious Sàr Ghàidheal award

A celebratory dinner was held by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI recently to present brothers Rory and Calum MacDonald, from the successful band Runrig, with their Sàr Ghàidheal awards.

It was at this year’s Graduation ceremony that the title of Sàr Ghàidheal was bestowed upon them and although unable to attend, they filmed a video thanking the College for the award which was shown to all those present.

There have been many links, both historical and personal, between the brothers and the College through the years.  Rory MacDonald designed the first ever SMO logo, their band Runrig played in the Talla Mhòr back in the early days, Donnie Munro the Director of Development and the Arts at SMO was a fellow member of the band and both Calum and Rory were in primary school with College Principal, Prof Boyd Robertson.

Prof Robertson said:  “It was entirely appropriate that the title of Sàr Ghàidheal was bestowed on the MacDonald brothers given how they revitalised and extended the corpus of Gaelic song.  and how, through their repertoire with Runrig, they brought Gaelic music and song to the world stage and  got people unfamiliar with the language  to sing Gaelic songs .  It was also very fitting that the award of Sàr Ghàidheal was conferred on Rory and Calum by Roddy John MacLeod in his last official engagement as Chairman of the Board of Directors at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.  He and the brothers had attended Portree High School together and he went on to become their legal advisor when they established the band.”


Balaich Runrig a’ faighinn duaisean chliùiteach an t-Sabhail Mhòir

Chaidh dìnnear a chumail le Sabhal Mòr Ostaig OGE o chionn ghoirid airson duais nan Sàr Ghàidheal a thoirt do na bràithrean Ruairidh agus Calum Dòmhnallach bhon chòmhlan ainmeil Runrig.  

B’ ann aig Ceumnachd na bliadhna-sa san Dàmhair a chaidh an t-urram a bhuileachadh orra.  Leis nach b’ urrainn dhaibh a bhith an làthair, chaidh bhideo a chlàradh leotha ‘s a shealltainn don fheadhainn a bha ann.  

Tha mòran cheanglaichean air a bhith eadar na bràithrean agus an an t-Sabhal thar nam bliadhnaichean.  B’ e Ruairidh Dòmhnallach a dhealbhaich a’ chiad shuaicheantas aig a’ Cholaiste, chluich an còmhlan san Talla Mhòr sna tràth làithean, bha Donnie Rothach a tha na Stìuiriche Leasachaidh is Ealain aig an t-Sabhal na chompanach aca sa chòmhlan agus bha iad fhèin is Prionnsapal an t-Sabhail, an t-Oll Boyd Robasdan, sa bhun-sgoil còmhla.  

Thuirt an t-Oll Robasdan: “Bha e iomchaidh gun deach inbhe Sàr Ghàidheil a bhuileachadh air na bràithrean Dòmhnallach airson mar a dh’ùraich agus a’ leudaich iad stòras òrain nan Gàidheal agus na rinn iad gus ceòl na Gàidhlig a thoirt gu aire an t-saoghail is òrain Ghàidhlig a chur air bilean an t-sluaigh tron chòmhlan Runrig. Bha e freagarrach dhà-rìribh gur e duais nan Sàr Ghàidheal a thoirt do Ruairidh is Calum Dòmhnallach an gnìomh oifigeil mu dheireadh a bh’ aig Ruaraidh Iain MacLeòid mar Chathraiche an t-Sabhail.  Bha e fhèin is na bràithrean nan sgoilearan còmhla ann an Àrd-sgoil Phort Rìgh agus bha e na neach-comhairleachaidh lagha aca nuair a stèidhich iad an còmhlan.”