Sàl launches Iolaire centenary

Picture by Christian Cooksey/Braeside Photography. An Lanntair presents SAL, a suite of Gaelic music by Iain Morrison with Dalziel & Scullion . Part of a programme to commemorate the centenary of the sinking of the Iolaire and the end of World War One. Pictured bottom right is Iain Morrison with his band during the performance. All rights reserved. For full terms and conditions see www.cookseypix.com. Free first use.

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A major new artwork commemorating 100 years since the Iolaire tragedy has premiered at An Lanntair on Lewis.

The clocks went back in a very different way last Saturday evening for Sàl, composed by Iain Morrison with imagery by artists Dalziel and Scullion.

Sàl, which can mean, salt, saltwater, the open sea and suggest tears, is the first of a series of special events at An Lanntair in Stornoway to mark the Iolaire centenary.

The Iolaire tragedy is an anguished story of wrecked lives and ravaged communities. On the morning of January 1, 1919, a war-weary community, exhausted by loss, who had prepared for peace, reconciliation and return, were engulfed by impenetrable grief when the Iolaire, carrying servicemen home, sank.

Notwithstanding the virtuoso performances across a suite of 12 musical chapters and imagery, Sàl was also deeply personal.

Iain Morrison’s great-grandfather was among those lost and left a widow and eight children. His grandfather was but one year old. It is threaded through his genealogy. It draws on the deep well of Ceòl Mòr and Gaelic psalm singing.

The centenary programme continues this week with the launch of the book The Darkest Dawn at the Faclan, the Hebridean Book Festival, followed by a second An Lanntair commission, An Treas Suaile (The Third Wave) by Julie Fowlis and Duncan Chisholm, premiering on November 9, alongside Bho Mhoch Gu Dubh (From Dawn to Dark), an exhibition of work by Mhairi Law and Alec Galloway.

Sàl will be performed again at An Lanntair on December 29, just before the centenary of the Iolaire disaster.