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Fèis Rois project goes global

By Liza Mulholland

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Rosskeen Church.
Rosskeen Church.

Well, what a fantastic week it’s been – and not just because I got my first vaccine jab.

I actually got to play music with fellow musicians, live and in person!

The first time in over a year, apart from a livestream garden gig our band Dorec-a-belle did last August, that I’ve played with others in the same space.

To say all the musicians involved were thrilled is an understatement and being one of our favourite projects made it even more special.

Gathering and setting up in Rosskeen Church, that lovely and impressive edifice you might have spotted beside the A9 near Alness, we were all excited and perhaps even a little nervous.

I’ve written about the Tàlaidhean Ùra Lullaby Project in this column before – a programme delivered by Fèis Rois in partnership with New York’s Carnegie Hall – and this was a day of filming a video for Carnegie’s annual presentation on the project, including lullabies written by new mums from all over the world.

That a gorgeous Gaelic song written and sung by a mum from our first cohort, begun in Alness in early 2020, will be among those shared at the international showcase is amazing and feels so incredibly heart-warming and uplifting.

The acoustics in the church were beautiful and as the instruments and harmonies accompanied the lead Gaelic vocal, it felt a complete joy to be part of. Even socially distanced in that large space, the melding of all those elements brought a togetherness that is such an exhilarating aspect of music making.

It was so great to also catch up with our mum and her wee boy, who was a tiny baby last time we saw him but is now an inquisitive toddler, having fun exploring between the pews. Just delightful!

Fèis Rois’s superb work is not just far-reaching but so chockful of excellent initiatives, another of which is the forthcoming Virtual Fèis Weekend, in place of the adult Fèis usually held in the first weekend of May.

I can’t believe it’s a whole year since I shared news of the first online version of the adult Fèis; these long months of Covid have, in some ways, flown by. Taking place from Friday, April 30, through to Monday, May 3, it will feature lots of great workshops and concerts but also new programme additions of Lunchtime Lectures and Sessions at Six.

Being virtual means that people of any age can attend and join as many different events as desired, an advantage over the in-person festival where you are perhaps focusing on one or two main instrument or song choices. I for one look forward to sampling something new… small pipes, maybe?!

Although there is no charge for events, donations are most welcome, and advance registration for the lectures and sessions is required.

So, don’t miss out – it will be a fantastic holiday weekend of music. For more information and registration, go to www.feisrois.org

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