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£500 prize on offer for local music inspired by Highlands and Islands nature reserves

By John Davidson

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Loch Maree is part of the glorious Beinn Eighe NNR. Picture: Lorne Gill/SNH
Loch Maree is part of the glorious Beinn Eighe NNR. Picture: Lorne Gill/SNH

A competition to inspire people to connect with nature through music is seeking new compositions from budding musicians.

The In Tune With Nature contest is calling on musicians of all genres – whether rock, rap, folk, classical or anything in between – to show their love of nature by writing music inspired by the coasts and waters of Scotland’s beautiful nature reserves.

Beinn Eighe and Creag Meagaidh national nature reserves (NNRs) are among the 10 reserves featured in the competition.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Fèis Rois have partnered up for the competition, in which entrants are invited to compose a piece of music inspired by one of 10 national nature reserves across Scotland.

The competition will be judged by a panel of well-known faces from the Scottish music industry – including Julie Fowlis, Vic Galloway, Gill Maxwell and Karine Polwart – and is part of the celebrations for the year of coasts and waters 2020.

Winners will receive a £500 cash prize, as well as the opportunity to take part in live performances throughout the year. Each winner will also make a film on the nature reserve which inspired their music with a professional film-maker.

Entries can be in any style of music, and may or may not include lyrics. References to local culture, language and tradition are encouraged. New Gaelic songs are particularly encouraged in the Beinn Eighe and Creag Meagaidh areas, as are songs written in Scots and regional dialects in other areas.

A black grouse displaying its colours during a lek.
A black grouse displaying its colours during a lek.

Ian Sargeant, SNH's NNR manager for north and west Scotland, said: “There’s so much to be inspired by on our nature reserves, particularly during the year of coasts and waters 2020. We have such an amazing variety of marine wildlife and seabirds in Scotland, as well as stunning beaches, lochs and rivers. It’s hard not to be inspired by such beauty.

“Music and nature have so much in common – they’re both moving and give us so much pleasure. We can’t wait to hear what people come up with to make us see these special places in a new light.”

Fiona Dalgetty, chief executive of Fèis Rois, added: “We at Fèis Rois are thrilled to be collaborating on this new project with SNH to encourage musicians to create new work inspired by our beautiful landscapes in Scotland. We also believe that musicians have an invitation here to make a creative response to the climate challenge affecting our natural heritage in Scotland today. We look forward to receiving entries from all genres of musician.”

The deadline for entries in May 31, with winners announced on June 26. For more information see here.

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