Blas goes out with a blast

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Nearly 1,000 young musicians impressed a Highland crowd with an incredible showcase of Scottish music and culture, alongside the top names in traditional music, at the Blas Festival finale Òran Mòr on Saturday.

Meaning Great (or Big) Song, the musical extravaganza took place at a packed out Northern Meeting Park in Inverness and featured young musicians from Fèisean and various youth initiatives from across Scotland, including the Highland Council Youth Music Groups, the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music and City of Inverness Youth Pipe Band.

The Blas Festival came to a close with an outstanding display of Scotland’s young musical talent in a largescale showcase, Òran Mòr, in Inverness.
The Blas Festival came to a close with an outstanding display of Scotland’s young musical talent in a largescale showcase, Òran Mòr, in Inverness.

The audience was also treated to performances by some of the biggest names in traditional music, including Trail West, Mischa Macpherson, Brìghde Chaimbeul, Breabach and Skipinnish – all of which were selected by the young musicians taking part on the day.

The highlight of the day was undoubtedly the Year of Young People ensemble: a brand new Gaelic song written by up-and-coming young Gaelic songwriter, Glasgow-based Gaelic student, Robbie MacLeòid. His song, Bèo an Dòchas (Living in Hope), was written specifically for Òran Mòr and was sung by all the young people, under the musical direction of Donald Shaw and led by young Gaelic singer, Annia MacGillivray from Tain, who impressed the audience with her beautiful voice.

Robbie MacLeòid said: ‘Writing this song for Òran Mòr at this year’s Blas Festival has been an incredible experience and opportunity for me. It is fantastic to be involved in an event like this and I am very grateful to Fèisean nan Gaidheal for all the support they’ve given me and the work they’ve done for Gaelic language and music over the last 30 years. It has been a wonderful day!’

Blas Festival, which aims to celebrate Gaelic culture and the thriving Scottish traditional music scene over nine days of concerts, cèilidhs and larger events in venues across the Highlands and Islands, ran from September 7-15 and featured traditional musicians and singers, including Julie Fowlis, Wolfstone, Niteworks, Assynt, Alasdair Gillies and a new Gaelic song commission by BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award winner, Mischa Macpherson.