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Irish and Scottish musical talent to be showcased on new BBC Alba series

By Calum MacLeod

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Julie Fowlis
Julie Fowlis

Highland traditional music stars Julie Fowlis and Duncan Chisholm will join counterparts from across Scotland and Ireland for a new four part series on BBC Alba.

Sruth will showcase eight of the finest young traditional musicians from Ireland and Scotland who will also get the chance to play with some of traditional music’s more established A-listers such as Julie Fowlis, Duncan Chisholm, Phil Cunningham, Niall Vallely, Ríoghnach Connolly, Griogair Labhruidh and Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn.

Narrated by singer Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill of the iconic band Skara Brae, we get to meet the young traditional musicians who are at the heart of the great flowering of folk and trad both countries have seen over the past two decades. The series shows that traditional music is as much at home amongst the side-streets of Belfast or the Industrial suburbs of Glasgow as it is under the shadow of Mount Errigal or on the Isle of Skye.

Sruth also shows the importance of the family in the nurturing of musical talent and of the community that helps it flourish. In the words of Scottish fiddler, Duncan Chisholm: “The music represents where we're from, who we are and that connection between the north of Ireland and Scotland is very clear in the music.”

Filmed in Belfast, Glasgow, throughout Ulster and the Highlands and Islands, the production of the series was a daunting prospect under coronavirus restrictions but while the young musicians and their mentors might have been socially distanced, the music created an intimate bridge between them.

Executive producer Dónal O’Connor of Táin Media said: “This music can put us in touch with ourselves in ways that no other art form can do. It can embrace the pulse of our ancestral memory, allowing us to redefine our dreams of what it is to be Irish or Scottish” he says, and the series features performances which will take your breath away.

“Traditional music is quintessentially the art of solo performance and these four one hour programmes give us the chance to let the music breath. We get to experience the magic that great solos can produce, they can grace a moment of joy or they can amplify a moment of sorrow."

The first programme in the Sruth series will broadcast on BBC Alba on Thursday February 25.

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