To organise a wedding is one thing and it brings with it many challenges. But to organise one which is to be the centrepiece of a major festival with hundreds of guests, at a unique location such as a nature centre, is something completely different. However, that is the challenge willingly accepted by Gaelic singer Margaret Stewart who was commissioned to deliver one of the showpiece events at Blas 2012.
The 2012 festival’s annual commission was awarded to Margaret and her ensemble and they were tasked with delivering four performances which would be highlighted in the festival programme. The Highland Wedding was the theme chosen by Margaret, who is currently Musician in Residence at the Gaelic College, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, on Skye.
Drawing on her extensive expertise as a Gaelic singer and collector, Margaret has chosen to explore various themes connected with the place of the Highland wedding in local society through the ages. Drawing on her knowledge of Gaelic music and song, particularly through her familiarity with the Tobar an Dualchais project, Margaret has assembled a multi-talented group of musicians who will help her explore love, loss and disappointment, flirtation, wooing, night-visiting, humour and dance.
The wedding will be consummated (for want of a better word) on the opening night (7th September) of the 2012 festival at the unique location of Magnus House at the Aigas Field Centre hosted by Sir John and Lucy Lister-Kaye, owners of the nature centre. Joining Margaret will be some of the best of the Highland’s musical talent: Iain MacFarlane on fiddle and box, Ingrid Henderson (clàrsach), Allan Henderson (fiddle and piano), and Angus Nicolson on the pipes.
Donna MacRae, Blas Director said: “It is now firmly established as one of the Blas traditions that we have an outstanding piece of work to launch the event and to set the tone. I am absolutely certain that Margaret Stewart and her musicians will provide us with another outstanding start to the Festival; for all that the preparations for this Highland wedding, as with any other, will be frenetic until the last minute. Not only will the wedding itself be memorable, but the location for our opening night could not be more spectacular and we are delighted that Sir John and Lady Lucy will be our hosts. Luckily for them, it’s a wedding they won’t have to pay for!”
As long as the marriage survives the opening night, its further consummation will continue in true Highland style (the best Highland weddings lasted more than one evening) and will go on tour to a number of other locations: Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Skye, Saturday, September 8; Poolewe Village Hall on Monday, September 10 and finally Nairn Community Centre on Tuesday, September 11, with all the performances starting at 7.30pm.
Blas Festival runs 7th – 15th September 2012
Further information on the Blas programme is available from www.blas-festival.com.