SEALL job opportunity

SEALL is looking for a dynamic and organised part-time Administrative Assistant (1.5 days per week) to be part of the small team developing touring cultural events across Skye.

Working from our office in Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Sleat, Skye you will be responsible for handling event and other income, making financial entries into our accounts system, and administering our membership and our volunteers. This is a fixed term contract to the end of 2019 which may be extended depending on funding.  

Closing date Monday 18 February 2019

Please write or email to Marie Lewis with a cv, or contact us for more details or download a job description from HERE.

SEALL, An Seòmar Uaine, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Sleat, Isle of Skye IV44 8RQ

marie@seall.co.uk

01471 844207

www.seall.co.uk 

Janice Galloway on love and relationships

One of Scotland’s foremost female writers comes to Skye on Valentine’s Day.

Multi-award-winning author Janice Galloway is internationally renowned for giving voice to the feminine condition in Scottish working-class communities and has been described as a “significant force in Scottish cultural life.”

Her first novel, The Trick is to Keep Breathing, is now widely regarded as a Scottish contemporary classic and won the MIND Book of the Year award in 1990.

Janice’s second novel, Foreign Parts (1994), won the E M Forster Award while her third, Clara (2002), about the tempestuous life of 19th-century pianist Clara Wieck Schumann, won the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year Award in 2002.

Collaborative texts include an opera with Sally Beamish and three cross-discipline works with Anne Bevan, the Orcadian sculptor. Janice’s “anti-memoir”, This is Not About Me, was published in 2008 and her Collected Stories in 2009. A second book of memoir, All Made Up, was published in 2011. In 2015 her collection of short stories Jellyfish was published and has been released in paperback this month. 

Lanarkshire-based Janice has taken time out of a very busy schedule to come to Skye for an afternoon group session for writers and readers and an evening talk on love and relationships at the Sligachan Hotel on Valentine’s Day, Thursday 14 February.

In the afternoon at 4pm, Janice will provide a rare opportunity for readers and writers to attend a discussion group which takes the form of an informal introduction and discussion to consider the importance of beginnings for both reader and writer. Participants are invited to bring along a few sentences of beginnings of novels or short stories and discuss those choices to try and build a picture of how writing reaches the reader from the word go and, of course, the importance of doing so.

The evening event at 7.30pm will see Janice exploring the often quite separate and highly complex worlds of love, relationships and rearing children in modern times. The evening includes a reading or two, a chance for chat and observations as to how the world turns now.

Janice said: “I’ll be bringing Jellyfish on its first serious outing – a collection of 14 stories from which I’ll be reading a fragment of only one – after which I hope we’ll have some questions/ exchange.

“The stories in Jellyfish are based on a quotation by author David Lodge: ‘Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children; life’s the other way round,’ a saying that’s more profound than it at first seems!

“Jellyfish are notoriously fragile animals, of course, and I guess the stories try to reflect human fragility and resilience, focused largely on how human beings treat each other in and out of different kinds of love, fear and day-to-day life.”

Janice says she is hoping for a rainless Skye. She added: “My only previous trip to Skye was when I was 23 (a long time ago now) and it rained in buckets for two days. This time will be, in so many ways, different.”

The two events begin a new season and heralds a new phase in the Sligachan Hotel’s on-going refurbishments. The exciting transformation of their popular MacKenzie’s Bar and Collie’s Lounge will include a brand new gin bar. On the evening, the hotel will be serving a wide choice of gins and a special Valentines’ menu and everyone is welcome.

This event is funded by The Scottish Book Trust.

SEALL springs into 2019

DOWNLOAD SEALL’S NEW 2019 SPRING PROGRAMME FROM HERE

Mass fiddles, a silent film from the 1920s, an eerie opera, one of Scotland’s most popular female authors, dance performances and workshops are all part of the coming month’s performances in SEALL’s 2019 Spring programme.

Kicking-off a brand new year for SEALL events is Alasdair Fraser and the San Francisco Fiddlers. The master Scottish Fiddler and over 30 musicians visit Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Monday, 28 January for a free informal music session, and will give a concert on Tuesday 29 January.

On Saturday 9 February, audiences have a chance to watch an extraordinary silent film from the 1920s. The Wonder of Creation (Wunder der Schöpfung) will be screened in Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s TDC main hall with a live musical score by Herschel 36, the Glasgow-based composers and improvisors Stuart Brown and Paul Harrison.

Skye’s Ann Lampard MBE leads her team of talented local singers, Inner Sound, to bring The Medium, Gian Carlo Minotti’s 1920s’ two-act opera, to audiences in TDC Main Hall on Saturday 23 February. This is an eerie tale of Madame Flora, a bogus medium whose encounter with a real ghost turns her world upside down.

Internationally-acclaimed Scottish author Janice Galloway opens a new season for the Sligachan Hotel on Thursday 14 February in a special treat for Valentines’ Day. As part of SEALL’s live literature events, Janice will explore the complex world of love, relationships and the rearing of children in modern times. The evening includes a reading or two, a chance for a chat and observations as to how the world turns now. As well as the evening talk, Janice will also be holding a discussion group for readers and writers at 2pm. The event is supported by the Scottish Book Trust.

The event heralds a new phase in the Sligachan Hotel’s on-going refurbishments and the new transformation of their popular MacKenzie’s Bar and Collie’s Lounge which will include a brand new gin bar. On the evening, the hotel will be serving a wide choice of gins and a special Valentines’ menu and everyone is welcome.

On Monday 25 February, comedy dance company Shaper/Caper present The Unwanted. With comedy songs specially written by Mark Franks of The Overtones, and with lots of audience dancing and karaoke, this comedy dance theatre show makes for a great night out.

SEALL’s creative director, Duncan MacInnes MBE, said: “SEALL’s 2019 programme reflects the diversity of Scotland’s thriving performing arts sector and provide an excellent opportunity to bring the wealth of exciting talent to our rural communities.

“Our new Spring programme, detailing performances from now to 20 April, is available online from the SEALL website and printed programmes should be available to pick up from local outlets within the next few days.

“From 21 April to the end of June, look out for concerts by our finest traditional musicians including Ross Ainsley and Ali Hutton, Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, Mairi Campbell and The Shee. We have included concerts and ceilidhs for Easter as well as performances from our home-grown talent: Lorayne McLucas Performing Arts Academy and the Skye and Lochalsh Orchestra.

“Also, in April, we have in store a spectacular aerial dance performance and an unusual film project with food.

“We look forward to welcoming you all.”

Free ferry tickets to Raasay concert

Free return ferry crossing

Courtesy of CalMac, we can offer a free return ferry sailing (foot passenger only) to the first 12 people who book a ticket to our Raasay concert on Saturday, 24 November in Raasay Hall.

 

Make a day of it

Jarlath Henderson, Donald Shaw and Innes Watson will give a traditional music concert at 2.30pm.

The event is preceded by an hour-and-a-half-long music workshop (free to students, children and young people; adults by donation) at 11.30pm and a festival lunch (donations to the hall) at 1pm.

The celebrations continue at the Raasay Distillery with a tunes and whisky tasting session at 4pm. Tickets for the distillery event are £15 and available by phoning 01478 470178 or email info@raasaydistillery.com

 

An Talla Mor in spotlight

The lively history of one of Sleat’s most popular halls comes into the spotlight tonight, thanks to a resident artist.

Rachel Schmidt is the current visual artist in residence at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and presents This is Your Life, An Talla Mòr, at the eponymous hall tonight at 7.30pm.

Working in collaboration with sound engineer Hector MacInnes and artist Caitlin MacKenzie, Rachel will use music, video and prizes to take her audience on a journey through the imagined life of the Talla Mòr.

Rachel, who is on a three-month residence through the Royal Scottish Academy, was awarded the John Schueler scholarship over 14,000 applicants.

Originally from Kansas, Rachel lives in Washington DC where she is a textile artist and sculptor.

She said: “As an artist, I am interested in exploring perspectives of climate change on the environment on both sides of the world. Scotland has a powerful relationship with its landscape and a strong creative culture. I wanted to explore this in my art practice.

“I decided to do something that was project based and spent a large amount of time taking video footage and photographs on Skye with a view to turning this into a whole new body of artwork to explore living in this landscape.”

Rachel’s project, however, took an unexpected turn when she first set foot into An Talla Mòr.

She said: “It was love at first sight! I love the energy of the hall and the way it has housed and held so many different events over the years. I see it as a beautiful sight of pilgrimage and, the more I hear about the building, the more I see how special it is. Turning the focus of the project on a community hall is also a good way of thanking that community for my time here.”

Tonight features a unique evening of fun and involves video, music and games to take audiences on an imagined journey through the life of the hall.

Rachel explained: “Some of the information is based on history and some on my interpretation of the power and resonance of the environment.

“Expect gift bags, interactive video installation, music and a raffle. Come with an open mind, a sense of fun and expect to learn about the history of this wonderful building.”

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig arts development officer, Kath MacLeod, said: “Rachel has produced a very interesting contemporary take on environmental art which has been drawn by people and place. As an environmental artist, she came to this area because of its wealth of artistic activity, culture and language.

“This is very much a contemporary art installation and not a simple history of a hall. We are delighted to have welcomed Rachel as our seventh artist in residence and hope people will come out and support her tonight.

Entry is by donation, and proceeds will go to SEALL’s Festival of Small Halls, taking place in November. A limited number of spaces are available for tonight’s show and can be reserved from HERE.

Scottish Ensemble ends festival on a high note

A quintet of strings and clarinet will play out the 2018 Skye Festival, Fèis an Eilein, with the music of Mozart and Brahms.

The Scottish Ensemble and internationally-acclaimed clarinettist Matthew Hunt will perform Chamber Notes at venues in Plockton and Sleat on 27 and 28 August.

The Sleat concert, taking place in the main hall at Plockton High School on Monday, 27 August, and at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Tuesday, 28 August with an open and informal workshop at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig at 1pm on 28 August  aimed at string players, but suitable for all musicians.

Tuesday’s concert will provide the grand finale of the two-month-long festival which has included concerts by some of the best traditional musicians in Scotland; an evening of jazz and beatbox; movies; workshops; cèilidh dances; house concerts; and a day of crime fiction for writers and readers.

In their evening performance, the Scottish Ensemble will explore the clarinet quintets of Mozart and Brahms: Mozart Clarinet Quintet in A major; Brahms Clarinet Quintet in B minor; John Luther Adams The Wind In High Places (movement 4).

Mozart and Brahms wrote just one clarinet quintet each, both in the final years of their lives. But it’s their inherent quality and charm, not only their solitary status, which has always made these quintets stand out amongst each composer’s repertoire.

SEALL creative director, Duncan MacInnes, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming back The Scottish Ensemble to SEALL. The full Ensemble was our sixth ever event back in 1991 and since then have been regular visitors.

“They are each outstanding classical musicians who are not afraid to seek out innovative and interesting collaborations to challenge themselves and their work. Their performances are always exciting and they are a joy to experience. Matthew Hunt is one of the UK’s leading clarinettists with an outstanding reputation for quality of play. These two concerts will be exceptional.

“We would urge anyone who wants listen and experience this collection of world-class classical musicians to come along to one of the concerts.”

 

 

Famous moments for SEALL director

SEALL’s creative director has been rewarded for a quarter of a century of dedicated service to his community and Scottish traditional music.

Duncan MacInnes is one of seven individuals who have been inducted into this year’s Hands Up for Trad Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame.

The prestigious award recognises people who work tirelessly to help their community and enrich the lives of others through selfless service or charitable work. Inductions will take place at a ceremony in Glasgow’s Òran Mòr on 2 November.

The services to the community category of the awards, reflects the 25 years Duncan spent as a volunteer bringing Scottish traditional music to audiences in the south of Skye as well as nurturing and supporting the local young talent of his communities by providing the musicians with their first experiences of public performance.

Duncan has lived in Sleat all his adult life and a countryside ranger at the Clan Donald centre at Armadale Castle. It was here he first began promoting performing arts events, after the Old Stables building was turned into a restaurant.

Duncan said: “Because I was involved in the local drama group here, Edinburgh Mime Company approached me and said they wanted to come to Skye. I got them into the village hall. That got me thinking the Stables at Armadale Castle would make an excellent performance space and, by default, I became the centre’s arts officer. We put on events with the likes of Capercaillie, Seolas, Archie Fisher and Hamish Imlach.”

In 1991, Duncan finished working for the Clan but realised there was still an audience for performing arts on Sleat.

He said: “We had a very good local audience by then and so a group of people set up SEALL with me. I started promoting events in venues around Sleat and, 27 years later, I am still at it.”

Each year, SEALL delivers a year-round touring programme and the Fèis an Eilein, The Skye Festival. Their offices are based at the Gaelic College, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, and the organisation was recently given top approval by the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop MSP who said: “SEALL is an inspiration to what can be achieved in terms of support for Scotland’s culture. Over the years, SEALL has become one of the best rural performing arts promoters in Scotland …” and “…connects with the local communities to help serve them.”

Based at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic College, on Sleat, SEALL runs a year-round programme of almost 80 events as well as the Fèis an Eilein – the two-month-long Skye Festival in July and August.

In 2016 SEALL developed into a professional team of three paid freelance staff, to which Duncan, as creative driector, is one. He continues to volunteer some of his time in the evenings as master of ceremony at SEALL events.

This year, with the help of continuing support from Creative Scotland, funders, members and supporters, the community-led organisation revealed ambitious plans to broaden its reach to venues and communities across Skye and Lochalsh as well as improve its programme. It is expected that 2018 will be a landmark year for SEALL which will host its 2,000th event.

Duncan added: “Over the winter, I archived 27 years of posters and updated our database. We have held over 1800 events so far.

“It is interesting to note the number of bands who began their careers on the SEALL stage who are now doing their 20 or 25-year anniversary tours. In May Daìmh are celebrating their 20th anniversary. We hosted their very first concert as a band in Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. Kate Rusby played at SEALL just three weeks before winning the Mercury Prize and, many of the nominees and winners of this year’s big trad awards have all played here at some stage of their early careers.

“We promoted Arthur Cormack when he was just starting out and we would really like to do more to give our young local talent a step up the career ladder. To this end, we invite our young rising stars of traditional music to perform opening sets for our trad giants. Years later, these youngsters will become the next big names, attract audiences in their thousands and command higher fees, just like their forerunners.”

Norman Gillies, former director of Sabhal Mor Ostaig, said: “In my twenty-five years at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig I got to know Duncan well and I am full of admiration for what he has achieved for the Sleat community over many years. 

“During my time as Director of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig I worked closely with Duncan in his role at SEALL, and as an individual promoting the arts and rural development. 

“The respect I had for Duncan meant that Sabhal Mòr Ostaig buildings were made available to him for any events that he wished to promote.  We saw this co-operation with Duncan, and SEALL, as fulfilling our role in terms of community engagement.

“The partnership that evolved brought great benefit, both social and economic, to the Sleat community.  Working in conjunction with the Summer School programme at Sabhal Mòr Duncan and his team put together what became Fèis an Eilein, an eclectic mix of events which attracted over three thousand visitors over a packed two-week programme. 

“Duncan worked tirelessly, and most of the time for very little return, to ensure that Fèis an Eilein became one of Scotland’s best known and best loved small festivals.  He also, of course, managed to find the energy to put on a year-long programme of arts events ranging from welly boot dancers from South Africa to Scottish Opera and some memorable traditional cèilidhs.

“He is a creative, intelligent and caring individual and, whilst he would be the last to seek kudos for what he has made a life’s work in community service, he is more than deserving of public recognition.

“He also has enough chutzpah to present the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs with a book of Gaelic erotic verse on the occasion of her opening the new SEALL offices.”

This is the second time Duncan has been recognised for his services to the community and performing arts. Last year, he received a Highly Commended Special Award in the 2017 Rural Touring Awards.

The Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame is dedicated to giving acknowledgement and recognition to musicians and industry people who, by their dedication and hard work, have supported and influenced the development of Scottish traditional music during their lives. Launched at the Scots Trad Music Awards in December 2005, the membership of the Hall of Fame is added to annually.

Electrifying theatre


Until 10 years ago, The Occasion theatre company, in its various guises, were regular visitors to SEALL.

It was a pleasure to welcome back founders Peter Clerke and Catherine Gillard to SEALL at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in another of their highly creative works, The Monster and Mary Shelley, which is currently touring Scotland.

It has been 200 years since the bright and precocious teenager Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley published her book Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, and The Occasion puts Mary in the spotlight as she reflects on the circumstances which formed her unconventional lifestyle and their interrelationship with the creation of her nameless creature.

This is a captivating portrait of a young woman whose radical ideologies and unruly modus vivendi, considered monstrous in the 19th century, had been stitched together by the influences of her parents, her husband and the associated company they kept. Her creature was her salvation, the spark of life that justified her existence, and echoed the challenge to her perceived identity within a disapproving society as the “monster abhorr’d”.

Catherine Gillard puts on a convincing and spell-binding performance as the charismatic Mary and ably manages to place a contemporary mood into what is intrinsically a Gothic setting. The only other character in the production is the creature which sits brooding under wraps behind her and provides an almost silent alter-ego to which she can bounce off her reflections and animate her tale.

Stewart Ennis’ script is profound and compelling. His themes of love, loss, place and identity are delivered with empathy and understanding; often dark but punctuated at intervals with spells of bright humour to bring light to the mood.

The production is brought together by an atmospheric backdrop of shrouded shapes and some clever lighting that accentuate and enhance the changing moods and events in Mary’s life and it was a privilege to get to know her personally through a simple yet illuminating and brilliant piece of theatre.

It is a delight to present theatre of this quality to SEALL. Small-scale theatre companies are sometimes over-looked by rural audiences, one of the reasons being the presumption that they may disappoint. In Scotland alone, there are many companies just like The Occasion with a staggering diversity and range of work who are touring excellent theatre pieces that enlighten, educate, inform and entertain, just like The Monster and Mary Shelley. They deserve our strong support and a robust applause.

We look forward to the next visit by The Occasion.

 

 

Ross and Ali

Dynamic musical duo Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton are taking their anticipated new album out on the road and will stop off for a concert on Skye this month.

The partnership between these two multi-instrumental Scots trad giants from Perthshire has received a number of high profile awards since 2015, including BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Duo in 2017 and a nomination for the same accolade this year.

Together Ross (who plays Border pipes, whistles, cittern, banjo and harmonium) and Ali (Highland pipes, whistles, guitar, tenor guitar and harmonium) have been described as “rugged and inventive yet true to the tradition”. Over the years they have become major figures in the Scots trad music scene, following the footsteps of Gordon Duncan and Martyn Bennett.

Ali said: “We both grew up through the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band and were lucky to have Gordon Duncan as our mentor. Gordon let us see the possibilities that can happen with the bagpipes and instilled a passion in us to play them with other instruments.

“We really get a huge buzz from playing Scots trad music so I guess that’s why we choose it over other genres. Its the music that excites us!”

Celebrated Scottish Kirkhill fiddle player Duncan Chisholm described the pair as “two complete musical minds, connected first and foremost as lifelong friends.”

Ali explained: “We’ve been playing and jamming together since we were in our early teens and spent a lot of time sitting in bedrooms, listening to music and coming up with our own music, so it’s very natural to get material together. I suppose there’s a mutual understanding about each other that allows the process of making music very easy.”

Ross and Ali are touring their new album Symbiosis II and come to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, An Talla Mhòr, on Friday, 27 April.

Ross said: “Symbiosis II is a continuation of the work we’ve been producing as a duo over the last few years. Once again, it is an album of mostly self-penned music. This time we decided to go bigger on the production. The album is a bigger band sound, complimented by the talents of Duncan Lyall on Moog and synths, Martin O’ Neill on bodhran and kit, Steve Byrnes on kit, and Patsy Reid on strings.”

The concert begins at 7.30pm and, as is customary at SEALL’s traditional music events, young local musicians will open the night. Malin Lewis, fiddle and pipes; Lewis McLachlan, tenor guitar; and James Bauld, flute and whistle, all from Plockton’s National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music, will play a set.

Ross added: “Trad music has become very popular with younger people and the standard that the younger ones are at now is pretty incredible.

“It’s very important to encourage young musicians to perform and write music. The folk scene is thriving at the minute. It’s constantly growing and evolving. It’s a great opportunity for young musicians to perform alongside professional bands as it gives them a taste of what it’s like to be a full-time musician. Allowing for them to consider this as a viable career option.”

The event takes place at 7.30pm and is sponsored by Fearran Eilean Iarmain who will be hosting gin and whisky tasting sessions during the evening.

Other events coming up at SEALL are a concert by legendary Irish musician Andy Irvine on 21 April at An Talla Mhòr and a rare visit by the Travelling Gallery to Broadford on Saturday 28 April in the car park outside Café Sia. 

TO RESERVE YOUR SEATS FOR ROSS AND ALI, CLICK HERE

‘Cèilidh’ A sell-out

“Imagine a cèilidh that could wake the dead” The Herald

 “Beautiful Gaelic songs … with plenty of humour and successfully captures the cèilidh spirit” The Wee Review

For this week, a lively and fun piece of musical theatre capturing the true spirit of the cèilidh comes to the north and south ends of Skye.

Gaelic language-based Theatre Gu Leòr brings Cèilidh to Kilmuir Hall tonight (22 March) and to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, TDC main hall, on Friday. Both shows begin at 7.30pm.

Wild, outspoken and buried face down on the Isle of Harris, poet Màiri Ruadh is back from beyond the grave, with one last night to resurrect the true meaning of the cèilidh. She has fire in her belly and is determined never to be silenced again.

Cèilidh is a new play full of live music, songs and stories. It is subtitled and suitable for anyone with or without Gaelic, but only those ready for a cèilidh like no other!