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Inverness showcase as Feis Rois ceilidh trail set to mark 25-year anniversary


By Hector MacKenzie

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All set for another ceilidh trail - and it's a special one marking the 25th anniversary of the Feis Rois project. Eoin Cumming (Laide), Magnus Turpie (Edinburgh), Debi Hutchison (Croy) and Dean Munro (Invergordon),all participants again this year, pictured performing last year.Picture: Paul Campbell Photography
All set for another ceilidh trail - and it's a special one marking the 25th anniversary of the Feis Rois project. Eoin Cumming (Laide), Magnus Turpie (Edinburgh), Debi Hutchison (Croy) and Dean Munro (Invergordon),all participants again this year, pictured performing last year.Picture: Paul Campbell Photography

TALENTED young Highland musicians from are preparing to hit the road to mark an anniversary ceilidh trail.

Twenty-five years ago, young Highland musicians took to the road for the first time in what would become a pioneering traditional music programme across Scotland.

This summer, musicians go on tour once again for three weeks of musical performances the length and breadth of Scotland, with special performances to mark the major milestone.

It will include prestige dates at Eden Court in Inverness and the Belladrum Festival.

The Fèis Rois Cèilidh Trail will see young musicians from all over Scotland, plus a musician nominated by Cambridge Folk Festival, come together next week to form three outstanding bands to perform at a variety of venues throughout the Highlands, Borders, Angus, Dundee, Fife, Dumfries & Galloway, and Glasgow.

With over 40 performances planned, these will take the form of everything from family ceilidhs in village halls to concerts in theatres and castles, and informal sessions in museums, castles and cafes.

The Cèilidh Trail, which was established by Dingwall-based arts organisation Fèis Rois in 2000, is a professional development opportunity for outstanding young traditional musicians, providing them with the chance to participate in a summer tour, with support from a team of professional musicians and specialist tutors.

Over the years, former Fèis Rois Ceilidh Trail musicians have gone on to carve out successful music careers including Gaelic singer, Mischa Macpherson, piper Brìghde Chaimbeul, singer and harpist, Rachel Newton, Kim Carnie (Mànran), Conal McDonagh (Breabach), and Ali Levack (Project Smok).

Fiona Dalgetty, Feis Rois chief executive is herself a former ceilidh trail participant.
Fiona Dalgetty, Feis Rois chief executive is herself a former ceilidh trail participant.

The very first Cèilidh Trail in 2000 was coordinated by multi award-winning Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis, who provided the theme song for Disney Pixar’s Brave, and Fèis Rois chief executive, Fiona Dalgetty is a former participant and coordinator of the project.

Julie Fowlis at Belladrum.Picture: Callum Mackay.
Julie Fowlis at Belladrum.Picture: Callum Mackay.

This year’s musicians will meet next week during their training week which is spent rehearsing and participating in workshops, including performance skills, sound engineering and dance calling, whilst also preparing for life on the road.

There will be a finale concert at Eden Court, Inverness on August 3 and then all of the young musicians will travel to Edinburgh for a special performance at Edinburgh International Festival on August 10, where they will be joined by former Ceilidh Trail participants including Rachel Newton and Mairearad Green, who were on the first Ceilidh Trail, as well as Mischa Macpherson and Innes White who both participated on the project for several years.

Eoin Cumming from Laide has made a mark in music already.
Eoin Cumming from Laide has made a mark in music already.

Participants this year include Eoin Cumming (Laide), Kirsty Harrison (Orkney), Catriona Kane (Dunblane), Peter Macpherson (Inverness), Ruby Smith (Newcastle), Emma Racionzer (Invergordon), Kitty Sykes (Huntly), Lucy Robertson (Dornoch), Anja MacLennan (Dingwall), Anndra Cumming (Laide), Magnus Turpie (Edinburgh), Ester Strachan (Isle of Skye), Dean Munro (Invergordon) and Debi Hutchison (Croy).

Ruby Smith is joining the trail as part of the Cambridge Folk Festival’s continued partnership with Fèis Rois. Ten musicians who took part in last year’s Ceilidh Trail will also be making some appearances at international festivals this summer including Sidmouth Folk Festival in England, Festival interceltique de Lorient in Brittany and the Olympics in Paris.

Christian Gamauf.
Christian Gamauf.

Christian Gamauf, Fèis Rois creative producer and former Ceilidh Trail participant, commented: “We are incredibly proud of our Ceilidh Trail programme which has now been adopted by fèisean across the country and offers young musicians a fantastic opportunity to develop their performance and musical skills whilst giving them a taste of what being a professional musician is really like.

“As well as being the launch pad for many young musicians’ careers, the Ceilidh Trail has become a key cultural initiative, introducing a high quality example of our musical culture and traditions to tourists in sometimes unusual places, like garden centres or art galleries.”

After a successful pilot in 2023, and as part of Fèis Rois’ commitment to equalities, diversity and inclusion, the arts organisation will also have an inclusive Cèilidh Trail for young adults with additional support needs. Young musicians, who are passionate about traditional music, will participate in the training week before joining the other musicians as guest artists at several of performances this summer.

A full programme of this year’s Cèilidh Trail performances can be found on the Fèis Rois website, www.feisrois.org.

If you have any questions about The Cèilidh Trail or would like to ask about any accessibility requirements, please get in touch with Christian Gamauf, christian.gamauf@feisrois.org.

Where can you catch the ceilidh trail in the Highlands?

Monday 15th July – An Talla Solais, Ullapool; 1pm-2pm. Free entry; donations welcome. Informal Performance

Monday 15th July – Ceilidh Place, Ullapool; 9pm. Free entry; donations welcome. Informal Performance.

Tuesday 16th July – Inverewe Garden, 12-2pm. Free entry; donations welcome. Informal Performance.

Tuesday 16th July – Torridon Inn, 8.30-11pm. Free entry; donations welcome. Informal Performance.

Wednesday 17th July – Gairloch Museum, 12-2pm. Free entry; donations welcome. Informal Performance.

Wednesday 17th July – Macphail Theatre, Ullapool. 7pm. Tickets £10/£8 Concession (Over 65/Unwaged). Ceilidh Dance. Ticket Link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ceilidh-dance-at-macphail-theatre-ullapool-tickets-929074194927?aff=oddtdtcreator

Thursday 18th July – Storehouse of Foulis, 1-3pm. Free entry; donations welcome. Informal Performance.

Thursday 18th July – Foulis Castle, 7pm (Doors at 6.30pm). £12/£10 Concession (Over 65 or Unwaged). Concert. Tickets available at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/feis-rois-ceilidh-trail-at-foulis-castle-tickets-929158477017?aff=oddtdtcreator or on the door.

Friday 19th July – Rosemarkie Beach Café, 12-2pm. Free entry; donations welcome. Informal Performance.

Friday 19th July – Contin Church, 7.30pm. Tickets £10; Concert.

Saturday 20th July – Evanton Woods, 3.30pm. Free entry; donations welcome. Informal Performance. In the Wood @ The Mag’s Wood Shelter

Saturday 20th July – The Stables, Cromarty; 8pm. Tickets: £10 (£5 under 16s). Ceilidh Dance

Tuesday 23rd July – Estate of Ord, Muir of Ord’ 12-2pm. Free entry; donations welcome. Informal Performance

Wednesday 24th July – Abertaff House, Inverness. 12-2pm. Free entry; donations welcome. Informal Performance.

Wednesday 24th July – Loch Torridon Community Centre. 7.30pm. Tickets: £10/£5 for under 16s. Ceilidh Dance. Tickets available at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ceilidh-dance-at-loch-torridon-community-centre-with-feis-rois-tickets-925255473027

Thursday 25th July – Gille Brighde, Diabaig; 12-2pm. Free entry; donations welcome. Informal Performance.

Thursday 25th July – Applecross Village Hall, 8pm. Ceilidh Dance. Tickets: £10/Pay What You Can/U16 Free.

Friday 26th July – Conon Hotel, 1-3pm. Free entry; donations welcome. Informal Performance.

Saturday 27th July – Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, Grassroots Stage.

Tuesday 30th July – Simpsons Garden Centre, Inverness. 12-2pm. Free entry; donations welcome. Informal Performance.

Tuesday 30th July – Invershin Hotel, 7,30pm. Concert. Free entry; donations welcome.

Wednesday 31st July – Highland Museum of Childhood, Strathpeffer. 2-4pm. Free entry; donations welcome. Informal Performance.

Wednesday 31st July – Duthac Centre, Tain. Doors at 7pm, ceilidh from 7.30pm until 10pm. Tickets: £10 full price, £8 concession and a family ticket (2 adults and 2 kids) for £25. Ceilidh Dance. Ticket Link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ceilidh-dance-at-duthac-centre-tain-tickets-929164505047?aff=oddtdtcreator

Thursday 1st August – Haven Centre, Inverness, 7:30pm start. Free entry; donations welcome. Informal Ceilidh.

Friday 2nd August – Rosebank Playing Fields in Wick, 7.30pm. Lyth Arts Centre Summer Sessions, Free entry; donations welcome.

Saturday 3rd August – OneTouch Theatre, Eden Court, Inverness, 7:30pm. Final Concert. Tickets: https://eden-court.co.uk/event/f%C3%A8is-rois-ceilidh-trail-final-concert



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