An extravaganza of piping and much more besides is guaranteed when Blas 2011 takes over Eden Court Empire on Saturday, September 10. And there are now just six weeks left to lift-off.
In “Celebrating the Regal Pipe”, Blas 2011 has assembled a stellar cast of top-class pipers with the MacDonald brothers of Glenuig, in their own inimitable style, leading the charge with panache. Their supporting cast features Mairearad Green, Seudan and the prodigious talents of Oban High School Pipe Band, who were crowned World Junior Champions in 2011. No surprise there then as their tutor is none other than one of the world’s best himself, Angus McColl, who is no stranger to Eden Court and championship piping.
It promises to be an extraordinary evening’s entertainment according to Festival Director Donna Macrae. She said: “Anyone who has been in an audience with the MacDonald brothers knows what to expect – anything could happen – and that some sort of extravaganza is guaranteed. They never disappoint. The piping scene is a richly entertaining and vibrant scene at the moment and it is entirely fitting that we are staging this event just a week after the Piping Olympics and the Northern Meeting Competition at Eden Court. The balance and mix of our line-up should guarantee a remarkable evening’s entertainment. I suspect that the Oban band under the guidance of the legendary Angus MacColl may well steal the show. They have achieved a fantastic level of performance and success and they will grasp the opportunity to show us in Inverness what they are capable of and that they fully deserve their status as World Junior champions.”
No doubt the pipers may be tempted to play the famous tune “Cabar-fèidh” to mark Scottish Natural Heritage’s support for the Blas Festival this year as part of their contribution to the Scottish Venison Partnership. SNH will be promoting venison, and offering a taste, at the Eden Court event, linking the land and culture with that healthiest of Scottish produce.
Eden Court is also the venue, on Tuesday 13th September, for the world premier of a new commission “Balach na Bonaid”. Described as the folk world’s answer to “Peter and the Wolf”, Aonghas MacNeacail has reworked into Gaelic the adventure story “The Boy and the Bunnet” by celebrated Scots award-winning novelist, James Robertson. Newly commissioned music by Caithness pianist James Ross will add to the production which has as characters a stag, seilkie, a craw and a cat.
The women take over Eden Court on Thursday 15th September with some of Gaeldom’s “great ladies of song” providing another top line-up in An Guth (The Voice) – Karen Matheson and her band, Kathleen MacInnes and her band, Annie Grace, Karine Polwart and Corrina Hewat, and young Gaelic singing sensation Canntaireachd led by Eilidh Mackenzie, Scottish Trad Awards Gaelic Singer of the year.
This year’s Blas festival will deliver nearly 100 cultural events in venues across the Highlands ranging from community halls to Inverness Airport, The Jacobite Queen cruise boat and Eden Court Theatre and the Blas 2011 Grand Finale on Saturday 17th follows shinty’s big day in Inverness and the Scottish Hydro Camanachd Cup Final.
The full programme and information about several ways in which to buy tickets – which are still available at a reduced rate until the end of this week (July 31) – is available from the festival website http://www.blas-festival.com.