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Artyness columnist and musician Liza Mulholland finds music on holiday in Italy and looks forward to two live returns


By Liza Mulholland

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That’s me home from my Italian jaunt and what a great time we had! One of the highlights was a backstage tour of Milan’s famous La Scala Theatre, and it was simply thrilling to explore this historic opera house and magnificent centre of music and ballet since 1778, whose vast stage many of the world’s greatest performers have graced.

Dorec-a-belle in Italy.
Dorec-a-belle in Italy.

We found lots of great music bars, including a beautiful traditional restaurant in Verona featuring a 75-year-old accordionist accompanying his wife on a wonderful selection of Italian classics.

On learning that a Scottish band was in the audience, they generously invited us onstage to share a song and before long the whole place was joining in with us on Wild Mountain Thyme.

The girls of Dorec-a-belle and I even managed to try out the acoustics inside Verona’s Roman Arena, ancient site of gory gladiator events and now home to outdoor concerts. Originally seating 30,000 people, the stepped banks of stone benches encircled us, sending our Flightless Bird harmonies floating around the colosseum with incredible clarity. Oh, the fun a band can have on holiday!

However, it’s back to work now and, as I said in my last column, the month of May is indeed merry.

The return of Inverness’s one-day, family-friendly festival The Gathering on Saturday, May 28 (thegatheringscotland.com) is hugely exciting and, featuring so many of traditional music’s top acts, it’s guaranteed to be a fantastic day.

With Capercaillie, Elephant Sessions, Mànran, Peatbog Faeries, Project Smok, Torridon, Skerryvore, Heisk, Heron Valley and City of Inverness Youth Pipe Band, the line-up is truly stellar.

This first Gathering since the pandemic is going to be brilliant, so don’t miss out!

Also newly released is the line-up for Under Canvas, Eden Court Theatre’s summer-long festival hosted on their front lawn.

I’ve been dying to share this with readers and can now reveal that Dorec-a-belle’s gig will be on Sunday, August 21.

Liza Mulholland
Liza Mulholland

I always hugely enjoy this innovative festival, which has become, in just a few years, a much-loved staple in our Highland music calendar. As a band, Dorec-a- belle played it pre-pandemic in 2019 and we’re so looking forward to performing again this summer.

The warm and informal family atmosphere, mouth-watering scents of fresh- baked pizzas, the sparkling lights as the sun goes down – all add to the lovely ambience of Under Canvas, complementing the daily programme of great and diverse music.

As musicians, it’s a wonderful festival to be part of; the sound onstage is top-notch, we’re looked after by the team, audiences are relaxed with children welcome, and there is a sense of chilled enjoyment from everyone involved. Hope we’ll see some of you there! So much to look forward to.

Now if only this rain would stop...

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