Iain Fraser to launch Gneiss at this year’s Blas Festival
After having to rearrange not once, not twice but three times due to Covid, Dingwall based arts organisation, Fèis Rois, is excited to finally announce the release of Gneiss, by fiddler Iain Fraser; an album featuring a suite of music celebrating the people and the places connected to the Adult Fèis.
Fèis Rois commissioned Iain Fraser to record an album to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Fèis Rois nan Inbheach (Adult Fèis Rois); one of the arts organisation’s key annual events which celebrates Gaelic and Scots music with a weekend of workshops, concerts and sessions. Iain, one of the original tutors at the very first Adult Fèis Rois, took his inspiration for this new album from not only his time spent teaching at the Adult Fèis over the last 30 years but also the landscape, and in the particular the geological features, of the three places the Adult Fèis has been held in; Dingwall, Gairloch and Ullapool.
Iain Fraser commented: “The inspiration for this music is drawn from two main sources. The first came from delving into my own memories of the Adult Fèis. I feel very honoured indeed to have been asked to teach there many times, including the very first one. Since then, I’ve had so many great memories, some of them profound and possibly life changing and others erring towards the totally ridiculous, that trying to distil a few of them into a piece of music has been a challenge, albeit a rewarding one.
“The second considered how I might realise musically what we mean by a sense of place or by considering the landscape, and by extension, the geology of the three local communities that have hosted the Fèis over the years. From this emerged three distinct sections: Dingwall, Gairloch, and Ullapool, and as a subtext, the associated bedrock of each community: Sandstone, Gneiss, and Schist. In the course of this project I discovered so much more about the geology of Scotland than I knew previously and I’m indebted to a few of our early geologists such as Hugh Miller and James Hutton who persevered by tramping the hills, hammer and pen in hand, fired up by a curiosity to try and better understand the Earth’s forces at work.”
Gneiss will be launched at a concert at the Macphail Centre, Ullapool on 26th November as part of this year’s Blas Festival and also marks the first night of this year’s first ever winter edition of the Adult Fèis. On the night, Iain Fraser will be joined by a stellar cast of musicians who also featured on the album including Wendy Weatherby, Signy Jakobsdottir, Wendy Stewart, Graeme Armstrong, Calum Alex Macmillan, James Ross and Gordon Gunn.
Fiona Dalgetty, Chief Executive, Fèis Rois, said: “Iain Fraser was one of only six musicians who taught at the inaugural Adult Fèis in Dingwall in 1990, so it was only natural to ask Iain to commemorate this milestone. Tying together geology, culture and place, Iain’s suite makes vivid the passing-on of tradition and the nature of change; elements so central to Fèis Rois. The anniversary celebrations, set to take place in 2020, were stalled when the global pandemic hit, along with so many other cultural events. In September 2021, we were finally able to bring together the fantastic musicians you will hear on this album, to record at Watercolour Studio in Ardgour.”
“Having had to cancel the even in both May 2020 and May 2021, we are also delighted to be able to hold a special edition of the Adult Fèis this winter in Ullapool with an incredible line-up of tutors including Iain Fraser, Lauren Maccoll, Fiona Mackenzie and Brian o’hEadhra, Rona Lightfoot, Corrina Hewat, James Ross, Louise Mackenzie, John Carmichael, Dagger Gordon, Annie Grace and many more.”
The concert has now sold out, but it will be live streamed via www.blas.scot. The album will be available for digital download from Friday and physical copies can be pre-ordered at https://feisrois.bandcamp.com/. For more information about this year’s Fèis Rois nan Inbheach event, please visit www.feisrois.org.