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Fèis Rois presents innovative three-day virtual festival of concerts and workshops with top Scottish musicians from May 1 to 3

By Margaret Chrystall

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A THREE-DAY virtual fèis – featuring concerts and workshops on May 1 to 3 with some of Scotland’s top musicians – has been organised by Fèis Rois.

Those taking part in the event on Facebook include whistle player and BBC Radio Scotland Traditional Musician of the Year 2020 Ali Levack, fiddlers Duncan Chisholm and Lauren MacColl, award-winning Scots singer Siobhan Miller, keyboard with James Ross and Gaelic singing with Eilidh Mackenzie.

Each night there will be a special concert and the event will end with a spectacular three-hour concert with a line-up including Capercaillie’s Donald Shaw and Karen Matheson, Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis and Findlay Napier with Gillian Frame.

Karen Matheson.
Karen Matheson.

All workshops and concerts will be suitable for all ages and abilities, and people from all over Scotland, the UK and further afield are being encouraged to be there!

After having two of its popular annual events cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dingwall-based Fèis Rois came up with the idea for the three-day online event.

It ran its first Adult Fèis in 1990 and sadly had to cancel the 30th anniversary event this year – the feis usually takes place in May – due to the pandemic.

The Junior Fèis, a week-long residential for Primary Four-S1 pupils, which runs during the Easter holidays, also had to be cancelled, leaving many participants and tutors disappointed at the loss of these two important events in the traditional music calendar.

In a bid to cheer up those who were looking forward to the events, Fèis Rois, organised this online event which can be enjoyed by people of all ages, from all around the world.

The first Virtual Fèis Rois will take place from Friday to Sunday, May 1 to 3 via Facebook Live.

The first night will see acclaimed singer songwriter duo, Brian Ó hEadhra and Fiona Mackenzie, perform some of the songs on their new album, Tuath.

Lauren MacColl.
Lauren MacColl.

On the Saturday night Lauren MacColl and Ewan Macpherson will play the audience some beautiful Highland fiddle melodies and a few good singalong songs.

Lauren has also kindly written a tune and will offer people who take part the chance to bid on it to have the tune named and given to them.

The final night will see the famous Fèis Rois Tutor Concert come to life.

Iain MacFarlane and Ingrid Henderson.
Iain MacFarlane and Ingrid Henderson.

With a line up featuring some of the best duos around, the three-hour online concert will kick off with Capercaillie’s Karen Matheson and Donald Shaw followed by musicians including fiddlers Adam Sutherland and Emma Tomlinson, former Fèis Rois Cèilidh Trail participants, Mischa Macpherson and Kim Carnie, Siobhan Miller and Euan Burton, Glenfinnan fiddle and clarsach pairing, Ingrid Henderson and Iain MacFarlane, and singer-songwriter Findlay Napier with fiddler and singer, Gillian Frame.

Fiona Dalgetty commented: “Like so many other organisations and festivals, we were devastated to have to cancel our Junior and Adult Fèisean, which are key events in our calendar.

“Fèis Rois is in the business of bringing people together. We are about building community and friendships, as well as passing on tradition and teaching music skills to people of all ages and abilities and we didn’t want the current situation to stop that from happening this year.

“Using the technology we have at our fingertips, this is a way that we can still achieve these things in the virtual world, allowing even more people to get involved.

“The workshops will provide people, both participants and tutors, with the unique chance to peek in on other classes they might not have usually got to enjoy – fiddlers can join the pipe workshop and learn some good Highland pipe tunes. Usually our residential events are aimed at certain age groups, however this online format allows all ages to enjoy the same workshops and concerts and we are hoping that people from all over the world will join us for the first time!

“We wanted this virtual weekend to represent the breadth of work we do here at Fèis Rois and I think the range of workshops, calibre of tutors and performers participating does just that.”

Lauren MacColl, fiddler and Fèis Rois tutor, added: “Gatherings such as Fèis Rois, whatever the age group, are such amazing social occasions and they celebrate everything that is positive about community.

“Many of my best friends are those I met through the Fèis over the years.

“It’s brilliant to be involved in this virtual weekend, to be able to connect with people at this time, and hopefully bring some cheer and a little bit of Fèis spirit into folk’s living rooms.”

All workshops will be pitched at approximately an intermediate+ level but everyone is encouraged to get involved.

A suggested minimum donation of £5 for each workshop or concert you view can be made on the Fèis Rois Just Giving page, https://www.justgiving.com/feisrois, or via Paypal, https://www.feisrois.org/get-involved/support-us/.

There is no obligation to make a donation.

If you would like to find out more about the timetable of workshops and concerts taking place throughout the weekend, please visit www.feisrois.org

Updates will also be posted on Facebook, where all the events will take place – www.facebook.com/feisrois.

Friday, May 1

10am - Fiddle with Fèis Rois board member, Duncan Chisholm

12pm - Small pipes with Mairearad Green.

2pm - Accordion with John Somerville

4pm - Gaelic song with Eilidh Mackenzie

Saturday, May 2

10am - Fiddle with Lauren MacColl

12pm - Whistle with Ali Levack

2pm - Keyboard with James Ross

4pm - Harmony singing with Corrina Hewat.

Sunday, May 3

10am - Fiddle with Iain Fraser

12pm - Clarsach with Corrina Hewat

2pm - Guitar with Anna Massie

4pm - Scots Song with Siobhan Miller

The line-up for the Virtual Tutor Concert, taking place on Sunday, May 3 is as follows:

20:00 – 20:10Donald Shaw and Karen Matheson

20:15 – 20:25Adam Sutherland and Emma Tomlinson

20:30 – 20:40Mischa Macpherson and Kim Carnie

20:45 – 20:55Hecla: Ailis Sutherland and Ilona Kennedy

21:00 – 21:10Anna Massie

21:15 – 21:25Siobhan Miller and Euan Burton

21:30 – 21:40Ingrid Henderson and Iain MacFarlane

21:45 – 21:55Claire Mann and Aaron Jones

22:00 - 22.10Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis

22:15 – 22:25Calum MacCrimmon and Laura-Beth Salter

22:30 – 22:40Findlay Napier and Gillian Frame

22:45 – 22:55Anna-Wendy Stevenson and Simon Bradley

22:55 – 23:00Fiona Dalgetty, Fèis Rois

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