The Blas Festival - Year of Young People 2018

By Reporter, The HighLand Times, Monday September 3 2018

This month nearly 1,000 young musicians will come together to showcase their talents and demonstrate their passion and enthusiasm for Gaelic music alongside the top names in traditional music at the biggest event in Fèisean nan Gaidheal’s 30-year history. Picture kindly supplied by Oran Mor.

With support from the Year of Young People 2018, the Blas Festival, organised by Fèisean nan Gàidheal in partnership with The Highland Council, is providing a platform to showcase outstanding young musical talent in a largescale showcase, Òran Mòr. 

Meaning Great (or Big) Song, this musical extravaganza will take place at the Northern Meeting Park in Inverness on Saturday 15th September, featuring young musicians from Fèisean and various youth initiatives from across Scotland including the Highland Council Youth Music Groups and the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music.

One of the highlights of this event will be a brand-new Gaelic song written by up-and-coming young Gaelic songwriter, Glasgow-based Gaelic student, Robbie MacLeòid.

His song, Bèo an Dòchas (Living in Hope), was written specifically for Òran Mòr and will be sung by all the young people, under the musical direction of Donald Shaw, led by young Gaelic singer, Annia MacGillivray from Tain.

The talented youngsters will share the stage with the bands they have chosen including traditional music supergroups Skipinnish, Trail West and Breabach and BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award winners, Gaelic singer Mischa MacPherson and piper, Brìghde Chaimbeul.

Maree Todd, Minister for Children and Young People said:

“Young people have been at the heart of the Blas Festival for over 14 years.

“It is fantastic to have the new Òran Mòr flagship event this year, which will give them an even bigger platform to showcase their talents, as we celebrate Scotland’s Year of Young People.

“The Blas Festival is a truly unique event for all ages to connect and enjoy Gaelic and our Scottish traditions and heritage.

“Not only will there be young people performing but they have been at the centre of planning and delivery for this year’s festival. I look forward to attending to seeing it all come to life.”

This year Blas has introduced some other exciting opportunities for young people to perform, design and deliver some of the main festival events, including a youth steering group which has worked with the festival board to provide ideas and act as ambassadors for the festival.

Alix Aburn, a Blas Festival Youth Ambassador said:

“I have always been surrounded by music and have recently become more involved with the fèisean and it has provided me with some great opportunities, including performing at Òran Mòr!

“After sitting my National 5 in music, I spent the summer touring with the Fèis Inbhir Narainn Cèilidh Trail which was not only great fun, but an invaluable learning experience.

“Blas Festival provides a great platform for young musicians like myself to perform at different venues across Scotland with some of the top traditional musicians on the Scottish music scene right now and this year in particular with it being the Year of Young People, it has been fantastic to be involved in the performing side of things but also be on the Blas Festival youth steering group which meant I was involved from the start of the festival preparation.”

“Robbie’s song has really struck a chord with me and I think when other people hear it they will be able to relate to it too, especially the chorus ‘Fhad's tha mi og, bidh mi og, Bidh mi beo, beo an dochas’ which means ‘While I'm young, I'll be young, I’II be alive, living in hope.’ “I’m really looking forward to Òran Mòr – it’s not every day that you get to sing with over 1,000 other musicians!”

Blas Festival, which aims to celebrate Gaelic culture and the thriving Scottish traditional music scene over nine days of concerts, cèilidhs and larger events in venues across the Highlands and Islands, has introduced some other exciting opportunities for young people to perform, design and deliver some of the main festival events.

Fèisean nan Gàidheal supports 47 tuition-based Fèisean that offer tuition in traditional Gaelic arts to young people across Scotland. 

For over 35 years, the Fèisean have been tutoring young people in traditional music, Gaelic song and Gaelic drama with around 6,000 young people annually taking part in such tuition. 

With education work, audiences for Fèisean events and other projects the organisation reaches approximately 70,000 people every year and that figure rises to 450,000 when television appearances and YouTube hits are taken into account.

With 35 events and well over 1,000 musicians performing, this year’s Blas Festival promises to deliver yet another music filled nine days.

For the full programme and details of how to purchase tickets, please visit

Discounted tickets for Young Scot cardholders are also available.



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