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Festival’s education programme gives insights into Celtic culture

Friday 10 January 2014
Festival’s education programme gives insights into Celtic culture

Julie Fowlis

A blog by traditional music star Julie Fowlis, an insight into the use of sex and the supernatural in Scottish ballads and an exploration of historical links between Scottish and Polish music - these are just some of the highlights of this year’s Celtic Connections education programme. As a partner of the festival, the University of the Highlands and Islands has recorded a series of virtual lectures and set up a Celtic Connections blog with posts from students, academics and graduates.

The university’s virtual lecture series includes talks on a range on Celtic themes. Dr Angela Watt, a lecturer at the Centre for Nordic Studies, will speak about the Highlands and Islands in film, while Professor Donna Heddle, director of the Centre, will give an insight into the use of sex and the supernatural in Scottish ballads such as Robert Burn’s ‘Tam o’ Shanter’. A talk by Dr Andrew Jennings, also from the Centre for Nordic Studies, will explore traditional beliefs in fairies.

In the university’s festival blog, readers can find out what it’s like for a student to perform at the event, read the thoughts of Scottish singer and multi-instrumentalist Julie Fowlis and learn about the historical connections between Scottish and Polish music.

Both the virtual lecture series and blog will be available on the University of the Highlands and Islands website.

As well as a virtual presence, university students and staff will also be getting involved in this year’s festival with two live concerts.

The musical links between Scotland and Asturias, a region in Northern Spain, will be celebrated in a performance by the Simon Bradley Trio. Fiddlers Simon Bradley and Anna-Wendy Stevenson, programme leaders at Lews Castle College UHI’s Benbecula campus, and internationally recognised guitarist Matheu Watson, a graduate, will be joined by Asturian musicians and prize-winning Uist tenor Paul McCallum at the concert. The performance takes place at the Mitchell Library from 8pm on Friday 17 January.

Over 60 students from the university’s applied music degree will also take to the stage with original compositions inspired by the history, culture and landscape of Uist. The performance will include a blend of vocal and instrumental music with traditional and new Gaelic song. Sharing the bill with students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, their concert will be held at the Mitchell Library from 2pm on Saturday 1 February.

Speaking about the university’s contribution to this year’s festival, Celtic Connections director, Donald Shaw, said: “We are pleased to welcome the University of the Highlands and Islands back as an education partner for Celtic Connections in 2014. Education is at the heart of the festival so it is fantastic that the university is helping to extend the reach and content of our education programme.”

Dr Crichton Lang, acting principal of the university, said: “We are delighted to be an education partner of Celtic Connections again this year. The partnership makes excellent sense as many of our courses and research outputs reflect the traditions, culture and heritage of the Highlands and Islands.”

  • The Celtic Connections virtual lecture series and blog can be viewed on the University of the Highlands and Islands website at www.uhi.ac.uk/celtic-connections
  • Celebrating Scottish and Asturian Music with The Simon Bradley Trio - 8pm Friday 17 January, Mitchell Library.
  • The Royal Conservatoire and University of the Highlands and Islands student concert - 2pm Saturday 1 February, Mitchell Library.