scotland’s natural heritage celebrated in blas commission

Tuesday 5th August 2014

The premiere of a special commission for the 2014 Blas Festival, created in collaboration with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), 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 and as it would have been heard back in Duncan Ban’s time.

The poem itself, is but a minor component of the production entitled Mìorbhail nam Beann (The Wonder of the Mountains) which will open the 10th Blas festival. Renowned fiddler Iain MacFarlane of Glenfinnan 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, Iain, together with Ewen Henderson (Mànran), Ewan Robertson (Breabach) and Hamish Napier (Back of the Moon) formed ‘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.

Ian Ross, SNH chairman, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this year’s Blas Festival which showcases our distinctive 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.

“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. This year’s international event, spread across 50 venues in the Highlands and Argyll, promises to be bigger and better than ever.

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.”

Blas 2014 is the first of a number of national and international events scheduled to take place in the Highlands between the beginning of September as part of Highland Homecoming, supported by EventScotland, culminating in the Royal National Mòd in October. 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. A number of venues, including Great Glen House, will have an enhanced food and drink offering, Feuch Blas (Try a Taste).

Further information on Blas 2014 is available here including the full programme of events and venues.

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