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Piper Christian Gamauf to draw magic inspiration from encounter with Sir Ian McKellen as the Feis Rois Ceilidh Trail project he manages gears up for final concert at Eden Court, Inverness


By Kyle Walker


A PERFORMER knows that the first rule of any live production is “know your audience”.

For piper Christian Gamauf, who played Eden Court’s Under Canvas on Monday night alongside fiddler Jamie MacDonald, it would have been almost impossible for him not to have known at least one audience member – after Sir Ian McKellen stopped by.

The thespian legend stretched his legs after his Eden Court show at the outdoor bar and, as Christian says, was very interested in the music the duo were playing.

“It was, yeah...it was really cool,” Christian laughed. “The gig was really fun, really lovely, and obviously it was really cool to meet Ian after – and he was just super lovely.

“He was super interested in the music! He was asking lots of questions about, like, the tunes we were playing and, well, Jamie is a fluent Gaelic speaker and I’m a learner, so he was asking about all of that as well, and about the pipes and, yeah...really cool!”

If Sir Ian could have picked anybody to ask about Scottish traditional stylings, he couldn’t have picked a better person to ask than Christian.

On top of being an in-demand traditional musician, the Austro-Scot has also been at the forefront of organising this year’s Feis Rois Ceilidh Trail – currently preparing for the end of its run with one last showstopping concert at Eden Court’s OneTouch theatre on Saturday night.

This is the third year that Christian has been involved with organising the Ceilidh Trail – this time on a freelance basis – and hearing him describe what goes into the summer programme, and all of the logistics, you get an idea of just how much juggling needs to be done.

“We’ve had more than 100 performances over the summer across the three groups. So with all those there’s all the travel, all the accommodation, all the meals, all the technical support they need, all that to organise,” Christian explained.

“And also we’ve got the training week, just before they go on tour. So lots of stuff to work out for that as well – we get some freelance tutors in to just help them with the music, and just to guide them along.

“Because they’re all working at a really high level anyway, and they all have lots of experience in arranging music and group work and all that, the job of the freelancers is usually just to like help them out a little bit, give them some guidance instead of teach them full sets. They have a lot of autonomy in that regard.”

And Christian knows just how important the Ceilidh Trail – celebrating its 20th year this year – can be to a young musician, having been on it himself earlier this decade. “I went to Lews Castle College in Benbecula and they have a bit of a partnership with Feis Rois in that they sometimes gave students the chance to go to the adult Feis. That’s when I first went to a Feis Rois event and first heard about it.

“From then, I also took part in the Ceilidh Trail, I think it must have been 2012 or 2013. I took part as a participant, and totally loved it – it really set me up for working towards a career as a performing musician. It really helped to gain that level of experience for a whole month, seeing all these different types of gig.

“So I did that, and then after I finished my music degree, a graduate placement with Feis Rois came up and I was lucky enough to get that.”

The Feis Rois Ceilidh Trail’s final concert takes place at Eden Court on Saturday. The show begins at 7.30pm and tickets cost £13 (£11 concession). For more info, go to www.feisrois.org

This year's Ceilidh Trail participants:

  • Grace Stewart-Skinner, Muir of Ord – Clarsach
  • Beth Llewellyn, Ardgay - Fiddle
  • Ruairidh Buxton, Achiltibuie – Pipes, Gaelic Song
  • Finlay Clarke, Invergordon - Guitar
  • Duncan Ritchie, Aberdeen – Keyboard, Accordion
  • Olivia Gubbins, Avoch – Fiddle
  • James Bauld, Dornoch – Flute
  • Gillie O’Flaherty, Ullapool - Guitar
  • Holli Scott, Dunoon – Fiddle
  • Ciorstaidh Chaimbeul, Kyle of Lochalsh – Accordion, Gaelic Song
  • Cavan Rodgers, Selkirk - Accordion
  • Bethany Walsh, Isle of Arran - Fiddle
  • Steven Stark, Auchtermuchty - Percussion
  • Jenna Macrory, Dumfries - Guitar
  • Corina MacInnes, Isle of Harris - Clarsach, Gaelic Song


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