A name synonymous with all things related to piping will be centre of attraction on the first day of Blas festival next week.

The music of the late great piper, Pipe Major Donald Macleod MBE, will be showcased in Crossing the Minch.

This is a project dreamt up by The Big Music Society, led by world class pipers Calum MacCrimmon (Breabach and Tryst) and John Mulhearn (Tryst). 

Crossing the Minch will commemorate the outstanding music of Donald Macleod, arguably the most influential piper and composer of the 20th century. 

The two-night tour, at An Lanntair in Stornoway on Friday 7th September and Ullapool Village Hall on Saturday 8th September, aims to wow audiences with a unique showcase of Donald Macleod’s music.

The event features special guests including James Duncan Mackenzie (Breabach), Innes White (Assynt), Fiona MacAskill (Kinnaris Quintet) and the Glenfinnan Cèilidh Band.

Calum MacCrimmon, The Big Music Society, said: “Never before has one figure's music been more resonant and influential on the Scottish traditional scene than that of Pipe Major Donald Macleod.”

Alix Aburn, the granddaughter of another 20th century piping legend, John Burgess MBE, and one of the Blas Festival’s Youth Ambassadors working with the festival to celebrate the Year of Young People 2018, said: “Although he died in 1982 young pipers and players of other instruments are very mindful of the legacy of Pipe Major Donald Macleod.  

“His tunes are still played regularly by young players and it is fitting that Blas will mark the great composer’s work in Crossing the Minch, the title of one of his best-loved tunes.”

Blas, which means ‘taste’ or ‘sample’, is organised by Fèisean nan Gàidheal in partnership with The Highland Council and will take place from 7-15th September. 

It 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. 

Other headline acts at this year’s Blas, which takes place at venues from Bernera to Applecross and Portree to Portmahomack, include Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis, two previous winners of BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards, Mischa Macpherson and Brìghde Chaimbeul, Celtic rock group Wolfstone, who will perform at Blas for the first time, award-winning folk band Breabach, young electronic Celtic fusion group, Niteworks and the highly-acclaimed RURA.

Two icons of Gaelic culture, Alasdair Gillies and Dolina Maclennan, will be celebrating their 80th birthdays with special events in Skye and Lewis featuring hand-picked artistes. 

Trail West will celebrate 40 years since the release of Runrig’s ground-breaking Play Gaelic, playing the songs from that album at two concerts during the festival.

The full programme of events can be found at www.blas-festival.com along with details of how to purchase tickets, including special prices for Young Scot cardholders.

2018 marks the 14th Blas festival, which was created as a result of The Highland Council’s desire to have a festival, in its area, which would match the vitality of Cape Breton’s Celtic Colours.  Fèisean nan Gàidheal was asked by The Highland Council to develop and deliver the festival, which it has done successfully in partnership with local Fèisean and promoters.

The Blas Festival primary funders and supporters include The Highland Council, Creative Scotland, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Fèisean nan Gàidheal. 

Thorntons Investments are providing sponsorship of £5,000 towards the new music commission.

The Blas Festival is supported by the Year of Young People 2018 Event Fund, managed by EventScotland, part of the VisitScotland Events Directorate. 

EventScotland is working with the events and festivals sector to develop an exciting portfolio of Year of Young People 2018 public-facing events which provide opportunities for young people to express themselves through a wide range of activity.