SEALL Festival of Small Halls goes online for 2020

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While strict restrictions remain in place to combat the spread of Covid-19, Skye’s popular winter festival has been reimagined for 2020.

The award-winning SEALL Festival of Small Halls takes place on Skye stages from November 26-28 , live-streaming the music of some of Scotland’s best traditional musicians from three stunning locations on the island.

Small Halls, which won the BBC Alba Scottish Traditional Music Award for best community project last year, will include two concerts and the popular Big Cèilidh as well as an intimate evening of whisky tasting with tunes.

Nine of the country’s most revered Scottish traditional and classical musicians: Hamish Napier, Angus MacKenzie, Inge Thomson, Su-a Lee, Rachel Newton, Lauren MacColl, Megan Henderson, Seàn Gray and Ewan Robertson, will perform concerts from Braes Hall and one from the magnificent drawing room of Dunvegan Castle on November 26 and 27.  The concerts will be presented by Skye’s Gaelic singer Eilidh Cormack.

Also on November 27, BBC Scotland’s popular Take the Floor host Gary Innes, Rachel, Megan and Ewan will lead the music in a special virtual Whisky Tasting Event hosted by luxury travel company Away from the Ordinary and aimed at giving virtual visitors a unique cultural experience.

On Saturday November 28, Gary Innes will present the Small Halls St Andrew’s Night Big Cèilidh online, streamed live from the Sligachan Hotel. This event will form part of the St Andrew’s Fair Saturday celebrations and is a chance to celebrate Scotland’s National Day in the traditional way.

All events will be filmed behind closed doors with no audiences and will be live-streamed to livingrooms across the world.

SEALL’s creative director, Marie Lewis, said: ‘Under the current Covid-19 restrictions, the live concert experience is forced to go online for 2020, but is proving successful throughout the industry sector.

‘In this mid-pandemic period, there is no reason why the Small Halls experience cannot be emulated virtually by careful planning and professional production methods.

‘We hope to give audiences the same experience of our live event but deliver it online. Many of our events were sold out last year and, for those who haven’t yet had the experience of a quality Scots trad concert in one of our amazing small halls, this is a chance to take part in one from the comfort of your own sofa and even have a dance around the living room.

‘We have chosen venues that are suitable to ensure social distancing can be safely maintained throughout all aspects of production and we are planning all our events in accordance with the Scottish Government’s health and safety guidelines.’

The festival is supported by Creative Scotland, PRS Foundation’s The Open Fund for Organisations and the Blas Festival.

Arthur Cormack from Blas Festival organisers said: ‘The Blas Festival has collaborated with SEALL since its inception and we have successfully co-promoted many events in Sleat over that time.  Since the Festival of Small Halls happens to coincide with Blas this year, we are very happy to be working with SEALL once again.

‘We are looking forward to their events enhancing the Blas Festival programme offering virtual festival-goers 11 days of great music, song, drama and more.’

Marie added: ‘It is thanks to our funders that the festival can go ahead this year. These are desperate times for the events industry and we are delighted to be able to host a festival in 2020, not only to showcase our unique island and traditional music but also to help our Scottish musicians continue to develop and sustain their craft.’

Small Halls 2020 musicians are also looking forward to performing together again, despite being socially distanced.

For tickets, more information and to download a programme, visit www.seall.co.uk/small-halls