Fèis Rois has lined up some of Scotland's top musicians and singers for an online traditional music festival, after having two of its popular annual events cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Fèis Rois ran its first Adult Fèis in 1990 and sadly had to cancel its 30th anniversary event, which usually takes place in May, due to the pandemic.
The Junior Fèis, a week-long residential for Primary 4 – S1 pupils, which runs during the Easter holidays, also had to be cancelled, leaving many participants and tutors disappointed at the loss of these two important events in the traditional music calendar.
In a bid to cheer up those who were looking forward to the events, Fèis Rois, which is based in Dingwall, has organised an online event which can be enjoyed by people of all ages, from all around the world.
The very first Virtual Fèis Rois will take place from Friday 1st May – Sunday 3rd May via Facebook Live and will see the likes of Highland based fiddlers Duncan Chisholm and Lauren MacColl, BBC Radio Scotland Traditional Musician of the Year 2020, and former Fèis Rois participant, Ali Levack and multi award winning Scots singer Siobhan Miller lead music and song workshops during the day. Each night there will be a different concert, as there would be during the actual events. The first night will see acclaimed singer songwriter duo, Brian Ó hEadhra and Fiona Mackenzie, perform some of the songs on their new album, Tuath. On the Saturday night Lauren MacColl and Ewan Macpherson will delight the audience with some beautiful Highland fiddle melodies and a few good sing-a-long songs. Lauren has also kindly written a tune and will offer people who tune in the chance to bid on it to have the tune named and given to them.
The final night will see the famous Fèis Rois Tutor Concert come to life. With a line up featuring some of the best duos around, the three-hour online concert will kick off with Capercaillie's Karen Matheson and Donald Shaw followed by musicians including fiddlers Adam Sutherland and Emma Tomlinson, former Fèis Rois Cèilidh Trail participants, Mischa Macpherson and Kim Carnie, Siobhan Miller and Euan Burton, Glenfinnan fiddle and clarsach pairing, Ingrid Henderson and Iain MacFarlane, and singer-songwriter Findlay Napier with fiddler and singer, Gillian Frame.
Fiona Dalgetty commented: "Like so many other organisations and festivals, we were devastated to have to cancel our Junior and Adult Fèisean, which are key events in our calendar. Fèis Rois is in the business of bringing people together; we are about building community and friendships, as well as passing on tradition and teaching music skills to people of all ages and abilities and we didn't want the current situation to stop that from happening this year. Using the technology we have at our fingertips, this is a way that we can still achieve these things in the virtual world, allowing even more people to get involved.
"The workshops will provide people, both participants and tutors, with the unique chance to peek in on other classes they might not have usually got to enjoy – fiddlers can join the pipe workshop and learn some good Highland pipe tunes. Usually our residential events are aimed at certain age groups, however this online format allows all ages to enjoy the same workshops and concerts and we are hoping that people from all over the world will join us for the first time! We wanted this virtual weekend to represent the breadth of work we do here at Fèis Rois and I think the range of workshops, calibre of tutors and performers participating does just that."
Lauren MacColl, fiddler and Fèis Rois tutor, added: "Gatherings such as Fèis Rois, whatever the age group, are such amazing social occasions and they celebrate everything that is positive about community. Many of my best friends are those I met through the Fèis over the years. It's brilliant to be involved in this virtual weekend, to be able to connect with people at this time, and hopefully bring some cheer and a little bit of Fèis spirit into folk's living rooms."
All workshops will be pitched at approximately an intermediate+ level but everyone is encouraged to get involved. A suggested minimum donation of £5 for each workshop or concert you view can be made on the Fèis Rois Just Giving page, https://www.justgiving.com/feisrois, or via Paypal, https://www.feisrois.org/get-involved/support-us/. There is no obligation to make a donation.
If you would like to find out more about the timetable of workshops and concerts taking place throughout the weekend, please visit www.feisrois.org. Updates will also be posted on Facebook, where all the events will take place – www.facebook.com/feisrois.
All the workshops and concerts taking place throughout the virtual weekend will be accessible via Facebook: Facebook Live at www.facebook.com/feisrois The workshop schedule will be as follows:
Friday 1st May
10am - Fiddle with Fèis Rois Board Member, Duncan Chisholm
12pm - Small pipes with Mairearad Green.
2pm - Accordion with John Somerville
4pm - Gaelic song with Eilidh Mackenzie
Saturday 2nd May
10am - Fiddle with Lauren MacColl
12pm - Whistle with Ali Levack
2pm - Keyboard with James Ross
4pm - Harmony singing with Corrina Hewat.
Sunday 3rd May
10am - Fiddle with Iain Fraser
12pm - Clarsach with Corrina Hewat
2pm - Guitar with Anna Massie
4pm - Scots Song with Siobhan Miller