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Feis Rois masterminds 'incredible line-up' for virtual festival; Liz Carroll, Project Smok, Lauren MacColl, Rachel Walker and Sian amongst draws for online event which also includes workshops

By Hector MacKenzie

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Sian will be part of the event.
Sian will be part of the event.

COVID-proof plans for a four-day celebration of music and song from some of Scotland’s best folk musicians have been unveiled by a Ross-shire arts organisation.

The Virtual Fèis Rois Weekend later this month will see an incredible line-up of some of Scotland’s finest musicians take to the online stage.

It comes after the Dingwall-based arts organisation, Fèis Rois, was forced to cancel its usual spring residential music events in Ullapool for the second year running due to Covid-19.

Last year, it also had to cancel its 30th anniversary of the Adult Fèis as well as Fèis Rois Òigridh (Junior Fèis), a week-long residential for Primary 4 – S1 pupils.

It responded to the pandemic by instead running a very successful online weekend of music and song, with over 50,000 views from more than 2600 participants from 50 countries.

And after last year’s demand, it is back this year with an extra day and even bigger line-up of musical entertainment – including two concerts to be shown on BBC Alba.

Project Smok.
Project Smok.

Running for four days, from April 30 to May 3, Fèis Rois, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, will host a variety of free workshops, concerts, lectures and sessions with musicians including Grammy-nominated Irish fiddler, Liz Carroll, neo-trad trio Project Smok, Black Isle fiddler Lauren MacColl, Glenfinnan duo Iain MacFarlane and Ingrid Henderson, Kinnaris Quintet fiddler Laura Wilkie and Gaelic vocal harmony group, Sian.

Featuring many former Fèis Rois participants in the line-up, all workshops and the main tutor concert will take place on Facebook Live whilst the Friday and Saturday night concerts will be broadcast on BBC Alba.

The new addition of the Lunchtime Lectures and Sessions at Six, including a session with BBC Radio Scotland presenter Gary Innes and accordion legend, John Carmichael, will take place on Zoom and will require registration via the website in advance.

Ingrid and Iain
Ingrid and Iain

With concerts on the first three nights, including a performance of Lauren MacColl’s Fèis Rois commission, The Seer, from the Strathpeffer Pavilion, as well as workshops such as fiddle with Iain MacFarlane and Laura Wilkie, Gaelic Song with Rachel Walker, whistle with Breabach’s Conal McDonagh and harmony singing with Corrina Hewat, the event is promising something for everyone.

The Sunday night will see the return of the online Fèis Rois Tutor Concert, a two-hour show featuring the likes of Liz Carroll and Jenn Butterworth, piper Gary West, accordion players Ian Lowthian and John Carmichael, harp and guitar duo, Rachel Hair and Ron Jappy, multi-instrumentalist and Black Isle Correspondent, Anna Massie, Scots singer Emily Smith and multi-instrumentalist Jamie McClennan.

Fiona Dalgetty, Fèis Rois chief executive, said: “Once again, we find ourselves unable to gather in Ullapool this spring, but we are delighted to present our second Virtual Fèis Rois event which offers an exciting mix of workshops, sessions, lectures and concerts for people of all ages to enjoy.”

“The Virtual Fèis Weekend will be one of our final purely online events, although we will likely take some of the learning from the past year into the future and have some blended online and in person events going forward.Like many people across the country, we are now looking forward to a gradual return to delivering in person classes, concerts and events across the Highlands.

"We would like to thank everyone who has continued to support Fèis Rois over the last year, participating in all our online events, and we hope that people across the world will join us for our Virtual Fèis Weekend – all ages and abilities are welcome!”

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, however, 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 and to register for the lectures and sessions, please visit www.feisrois.org. All workshops and one of the concerts will take place on the Facebook page – www.facebook.com/feisrois.

Fèis Rois enable people of all ages to access, participate in and enjoy the traditional arts and Gaelic language through a diverse programme of activities in Ross and Cromarty, across Scotland and beyond.

Based in Dingwall, Fèis Rois is widely recognised as a national leader in the arts, particularly in music education and was established in 1986.

There are now more than 40 fèisean in communities across Scotland. Fèis Rois is unique within the fèisean movement as it has a team of full-time staff that enable the work of Fèis Rois to take place year-round and extend well beyond the local community.


Friday 30th April

6pm – Session at Six; Iain MacFarlane & Ingrid Henderson

TBC – Concert; Lauren MacColl’s The Seer from Strathpeffer Pavilion. Please see BBC Alba schedule for start time.

Saturday 1st May

10am – Fiddle workshop with Laura Wilkie

12pm – Small Pipes workshop with Gary West

1pm – Live Lunchtime Lecture; Songs & Tunes of Highland Hospitality with Ewen Henderson

2pm – Whistle workshop with Conal McDonagh

4pm – Gaelic song workshop with Rachel Walker.

6pm – Session at Six; Gary Innes with John Carmichael

TBC – Concert; Mairearad and Anna/Sian/Project Smok. Please see BBC Alba schedule for start time.

Sunday 2nd May

10am - Fiddle workshop with Iain MacFarlane

12pm – Accordion workshop with Ian Lowthian

1pm – Live Lunchtime Lecture; European Folk Network with Dave Francis

2pm – Piano workshop with Ingrid Henderson

4pm – Harmony singing workshop with Corrina Hewat

6pm – Session at Six with Anna and Bob Massie

8pm – Fèis Tutor Concert (see below for details)

Monday 3rd May

10am – Fiddle workshop with Liz Carroll

12pm – Guitar workshop with Jenn Butterworth

1pm – Live Lunchtime Lecture; Cèilidh Culture & The Commons with Mairi Mcfadyen

2pm – Clarsach workshop with Rachel Hair

4pm – Scots song workshop with Emily Smith

6pm – Session at Six with Aonghas Grant & Louise Mackenzie

The line-up for the Fèis Tutor Concert, taking place on Sunday 2nd May is as follows:

20:00 – 20:10 Ingrid Henderson and Iain MacFarlane

20:10 – 20:20 John Carmichael

20:20 – 20:30 Rachel Hair and Ron Jappy

20:30 – 20:40 Conal McDonagh and Robbie Greig

20:40 – 20:50 Laura Wilkie and Hannah Read

20:50 – 21:00 Ian Lowthian

21:00 – 21:10 Rachel Walker and Aaron Jones

21:10 – 21:20 Gary West

21:20 – 21:30 Anna Massie

21:30 – 21:40 Liz Carroll and Jenn Butterworth

21:40 – 21:50 Emily Smith and Jamie McClennan

21:50 – 22:00 Corrina Hewat and Dave Milligan

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