Island cultures explored at Hebridean Celtic Festival

Left to right Kris Drever, Willie Campbell and Arthur Nicholson.
Left to right Kris Drever, Willie Campbell and Arthur Nicholson.

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

Now a new collaboration, bringing together a trio of songwriters, has produced a collection of songs for the current generation, fusing diverse styles from three different island backgrounds.

‘Between Islands’, the work of Kris Drever, from Orkney, Arthur Nicholson, from Shetland, and Willie Campbell, from Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, will be heard for the first time in public this summer when it is premiered at the Hebridean Celtic Festival, which is marking its 20th anniversary.

The collaboration project was devised by an Lanntair, the arts centre in Stornoway - which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year - and will start the centre’s week-long programme of events during HebCelt from 15-19 July.

Alex MacDonald, Head of Performing Arts and cinema at an Lanntair, said: “Between Islands came about because of an idea I had about celebrating the wealth of talent the islands have collectively; an exploration of our ties rather than our differences.

“It seemed to me that we could make something very special happen by pairing the right people, and I certainly think we have struck gold with this first project. So much so that we plan to extend the idea and include other art forms such as film or craft in the future, as well as aiming for a musical collaborative project each year.

“In fact I am already planning the next one - based on the fiddle tradition – and this time featuring three very talented young island women.

“Opening the HebCelt with this concert feels entirely appropriate. Both organisations are of course celebrating significant anniversaries this year, and this project is a clear illustration of our continued close relationship.”