Festival of Small Halls tunes up

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SEALL Festival of Small Halls 2019 kicks off on Friday November 22 with a triple celebration.

The first concert of  the Isle of Skye’s popular winter festival takes place in Kyleakin Hall and will not only herald the start of nine days of world-class Scottish traditional music in small halls around the Isles of Skye and Raasay, but will also mark SEALL’s 2000th event since its inception 28 years ago.

The third reason to celebrate is this very special concert and cèilidh dance, which features the combined talent of eight of Scotland’s best trad musicians, is part of the 2019 Blas Festival.

SEALL’s creative director Marie Lewis said: ‘We are so excited to be working with Blas this year. Blas is such a fantastic, well-established festival which shares our ethos of highlighting culture and community and we are delighted to be part of the 2019 programme of events.

‘Our launch night in Kyleakin is going to be very special. The concert marks SEALL’s 2000th event since it all started back in 1994. Almost all of our eight festival musicians will play together on the stage and we have some amazing talented young local musicians to open the evening. The great chefs of Eòlach Food of Glenelg are putting on an optional but very special two-course festival dinner at 6.30pm, which will be available to 60 diners. The music begins at 8pm.’

Trad giants Duncan Chisholm, Donald Shaw, Jarlath Henderson, Innes Watson, Su-a Lee, Lauren MacColl, Hamish Napier, Rachel Newton and Megan Henderson will be based at the Sligachan Hotel throughout the festival, which takes place between November 22-30, and will lead concerts, cèilidhs, sessions and workshops inside small halls in Braes, Breakish, Edinbane, Elgol, Glendale, Kilbeg, Kilmuir, Kyleakin, Minginish, Portree, Raasay and Waternish. Most of the participating halls are turning their event into a special celebration with pre-concert meals, bars and raffles.

The festival ends on St Andrew’s Day (November 30) with a spectacular celebratory concert and cèilidh for all at the iconic Sligachan Hotel, the festival’s main business sponsor, in honour of Scotland’s National Day. For 2019, the popular Small Halls Big Cèilidh will be one of the events taking place across the world as part of the global Fair Saturday cultural movement and will raise funds for Ross-shire Women’s Aid.

Marie said: ‘November is almost upon us and we are very excited about this year’s festival. The hall committees have been fantastic and once again have got straight into the spirit of the event by organising festival meals and raffles to make their night extra special.

‘We are so grateful to all of our funders and sponsors whose support and generosity have allowed us to bring the SEALL Festival of Small Halls to Skye and Raasay for another year and given us a great excuse to celebrate our communities and unique culture together.’

This year, the Sligachan Hotel base plays host to the festival talks. World-renowned BBC broadcaster Matthew Bannister will present a talk and film on his award-winning podcast Folk on Foot on Sunday November 24. On Thursday and Friday, November 28 and 29, celebrated Errogie fiddle player Adam Sutherland, who comes as a special guest to this year’s festival, will interview some of the Small Halls’ musicians for his popular podcast Interesting People.

As part of SEALL’s commitment to open access to all events, the festival supports young people in a number of ways by exposing them to high quality performance art through ticket incentives and performance opportunities. Young local rising stars of the Scottish traditional music scene will have the opportunity to learn from the masters and, over the course of the festival, musicians will be leading free school music workshops for pupils in Broadford, Carbost, Dunvegan, Edinbane, Elgol, Kilmuir, Knockbreck, Kyle, Kyleakin, MacDiarmid, NCETM Plockton, Staffin and Struan.

The festival has received support through Creative Scotland, Scotland’s Winter Festivals, the Sligachan Hotel, Culture and Business Fund Scotland, the Blas Festival, the Highland Council, Edinbane Community Company, the Old Inn Carbost and Cuillin FM (media sponsors).

The festival is designed to bring Skye and Raasay’s communities together for a special winter evening and give people cause to celebrate their traditional music and culture in their own village halls with some of the best trad musicians in the world.

Marie added: ‘We are really looking forward to seeing everyone and hearing the musicians play together inside one of our beautiful small halls. Early indications are showing this year is going to be even more successful than our inaugural festival in 2018, when some venues sold out weeks before the event.

‘We have already sold more than 25 per cent of our tickets and we haven’t even begun the main publicity campaign yet. We are expecting full houses across the Islands this year and invite everyone to come along and enjoy big music in their small hall, but book their tickets early.’

For further information, tickets and to download the full programme visit www.smallhallsfestival.co.uk or www.seall.co.uk/small-halls. Alternatively, pick up a printed programme from various outlets across Skye and Raasay.

 

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