Traditional music, embracing an eclectic mix of styles and tempos, is alive and thriving across the Cairngorms National Park. One organisation that has been at the fore in nurturing young musical talent has been Fèis Spè. (Fèis is a Gaelic arts and culture festival).
Established in 1990 by a group of local musicians and volunteers, Fèis Spè, this year, celebrates its 25th anniversary. Its enduring aspiration is to offer young people in the Cairngorms National Park access to tuition and performance opportunities through a programme of community-based traditional music tuition, with Gaelic language and culture at the heart of its activities. Fèis Spè has proven to be instrumental in honing the talents of previous participants who have gone on to forge careers as professional musicians; many others continue to enjoy participating in traditional music activities. To learn more about Fèis Spè visit www.feisspe.org.uk
The annual cycle of Fèis Spè include; Fèis Days in February, Fèis Week in October and various activities associated with the Junior Cèilidh Band and the Cairngorms Cèilidh Trail.
Feis Days are workshops with guest tutors that focus on specific subjects and instruments such as; fiddle, whistle, pipes, clarsach, accordion, keyboard and guitar, accompaniment and vocal techniques.
Feis Week (12 – 16 October 2015) gives children aged five to eighteen the opportunity to try out or improve their skills in musical instruments, song and dance as well as improving their Gaelic language skills. This event normally attracts around sixty-five participants in the 8-18 age group and around twenty under 8’s in their own programme.
The Junior Ceilidh Band provides group playing experience and performance opportunities at public and private functions for young people who are keen to develop their techniques and to explore the shared heritage of traditional music through tutored group work.
The Cairngorms Cèilidh Trail is a fantastic scheme to help talented musicians, aged 16 to 22, to develop their performance skills and to create a vibrant traditional music entertainment programme in the Highlands and further afield. Over the last eleven years, the project has been replicated in other areas and has proven to be a tremendous success. The tour offers a supported taste of life on the road while developing playing ability and sharing the musicians’ enthusiasm with a wider audience. Working with local businesses and promoters to develop cultural tourism throughout the National Park, the Cèilidh Trail offers a unique experience. Auditions are held early in the year to select eight musicians to take part in a summer tour. The 2015 Cairngorms Cèilidh Trail comprised musicians from the Cairngorms National Park and further afield including Ross-shire, Moray, Aberdeenshire, Perth and even Co Donegal, Ireland. www.feisean.org/ceilidh/fs.php
The Deeside Factor
One region of the National Park that is actively involved in celebrating and promoting high quality Scottish music is Deeside. The Deeside Inn for example has earned itself a reputation for bringing great music to rural Ballater. At its heart is Scottish music, mostly traditional, but some contemporary too. Regular weekly and fortnightly sessions feature a range of musical entertainment involving a collection of flutes, pipes, drums, fiddles, accordion, guitars and voices; everyone is welcome to go along and join in. In addition to the brilliant Scottish scene The Deeside Inn welcomes artists from further afield and from diverse musical genres. Check out what’s happening at www.crerarhotels.com/the-deeside-inn/live-music
If you appreciate delicious eats to accompany your music, then check out the 2015 Food and Fiddle Fortnight which showcases the country’s finest food and traditional music. The Food and Fiddle Fortnight runs from 2 – 18 October in a range of venues across Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms. The festival highlights the area’s rich cultural heritage, played out against a backdrop of some of Scotland’s most scenic landscapes. Sample gastronomic and musical treats, learn how local arts, crafts and foods are made, try the area’s local produce and hear world class live music.
Full programme details at www.visitroyaldeeside.com/royal-deeside-and-cairngorms-food-fiddle-fortnight/ Food & Fiddle Fortnight on Facebook
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