Between Islands project celebrates the shared heritage of Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides

Well known singers Kathleen Macinnes (pictured) and below Julie Fowlis will be performing at the May concert.
Well known singers Kathleen Macinnes (pictured) and below Julie Fowlis will be performing at the May concert.

They may be geographically removed and unique in their own way, but Scotland’s Western and Northern islands share many cultural connections, not least in their Viking heritage and a tradition of expressing their distinctive lifestyles through music.

The latest event to celebrate this shared heritage will take place at the Orkney Folk Festival this May, where a ‘Between Islands’ concert will feature Shetland musician Jenny Keldie, Western Isles singers Kathleen Macinnes and Julie Fowlis and Orkney band Saltfishforty.

The Between Islands project, originated by An Lanntair in Stornoway, and aims to explore the Scottish Islands’ links through a series of inter-island cultural initiatives. It has now received funding from the LEADER 2014-2020 regional cooperation scheme.

Project coordinator Alex Macdonald explains: “In the past An Lanntair have undertaken one-off inter island events, most recently a student exchange as part of the Year of Young People.

“Now, with the support of funding from LEADER, we are able to focus on the creation of a longer-term project, working with a broad range of Island organisations and with the main aim of encouraging collaboration through collectively promoting our culture and heritage.”

The Orkney concert is the first of these inter island initiatives.

Alex continued: “Working with Orkney Folk Festival to enable this collaboration feels entirely appropriate and illustrates the types of partnerships we hope to further in the coming months.

“However, the project will not be confined to music, and we are currently in the process of planning lectures, workshops and an exhibition in each area based on the Between Islands theme.”

Colin Gilmour, Chair of the Outer Hebrides LEADER Local Action Group, added: “The programme is delighted to be supporting the development of this innovative knowledge sharing project, and the opportunity to promote the islands cultural heritage.”