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Artyness columnist Liza Mulholland highlights a fund to help young musicians while honouring the life of the late Liam Colgan

By Liza Mulholland

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This week I should have been in Italy with friends celebrating a landmark birthday, but, as I write this, I am of course still here in Inverness, with rain falling outside and heating on inside.

Artyness columnist Liza Mulholland.
Artyness columnist Liza Mulholland.

Ongoing Covid, along with the airline rescheduling our flights twice already since our 2020 booking, meant that in July we took the decision to postpone the trip until 2022. Hopefully by then travel will be easier; my bucket-list wishes of a visit to the Castel Fidardo Accordion Museum and a night at Milan’s La Scala will have to wait!

There is a silver lining, however, as it’s meant I’ve been at home and able to tutor at Inverness’s Fèis a’ Bhaile, always a real treat in the ‘tattie holidays’ for tutors and children alike.

I confess though to something of a lifelong love affair with Italy. Since the days when I sat entranced in Mr Selby’s Higher art class in Inverness Royal Academy (upstairs in attic rooms of the old Midmills building), as he shared the wonders of the Renaissance with us, I longed to visit Florence and Venice.

But even before that, when I was learning piano as a child, unbeknown to me I was also learning some Italian, for the universal language of musical terminology has, for hundreds of years, been Italian. And who could not love a country whose words include ‘appassionato’, ‘crescendo’ or ‘allegretto’?

My parents’ diverse record collection, which included everything from Calum Kennedy and Bobby MacLeod to Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Grieg and Rachmaninov, also included Italian tenors such as Gigli, Caruso and film star singers like Mario Lanza – it all deepened my love of that country.

Although I work in folk, I love all kinds of music and appreciate now how all those youthful influences shaped me and the music I enjoy making.

Opportunities and nurturing are so vital to young people and their creativity, and regular readers know I love nothing more than sharing news of projects that help towards this.

The late Liam Colgan.
The late Liam Colgan.

The Liam Colgan Music Fund is an independent charity supporting young people in pursuing music, including running several excellent awards, workshops, funding and mentoring schemes. Set up in memory of the hugely gifted Highland musician and songwriter, who tragically lost his life in 2018, it is a beautiful creative initiative with which this young man’s musical life is honoured through helping others.

The fund is inviting applications from people 16-30 to the Open Awards (in association with the John Preston Memorial Fund) – one for performance, the other for songwriting – with grants of £500 to support development of musical ability and excellence.

Please encourage young friends to apply and complete the fund’s survey.

n Details: liamcolganmusicfund.com

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