Musical Collaboration Connects Isles

by Alastair Hamilton -

A new project, Between Islands, has fused together the collective talents of Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles.

They may be geographically separate and unique in their own ways, but Scotland’s northern and western islands share many cultural connections. Gaelic culture has never been part of Shetland’s heritage, but there is a shared Viking tradition and a common interest in music. Now, a trio of outstanding songwriters has worked together to produce a collection of songs for the current generation.

The resulting work by Orcadian Kris Drever, Shetlander Arthur Nicholson, and Willie Campbell from the Isle of Lewis will be heard for the first time this summer at the opening concert for the Hebridean Celtic Festival in Stornoway on 15 July. The boys then take to the air – with sponsorship from Loganair – to travel on to Stromness in Orkney (17 July) and then Lerwick , where they will play Mareel on 18 July.

Willie said: “I enjoyed every minute of the writing process for Between Islands. The three of us have our own distinct ways of approaching song writing, but without a doubt the environment you live in comes through so there's definitely a strong presence of the islands in the songs and themes that are familiar to all three of us.

“I hadn't heard Arthur’s or Kris' songs before the project, but we clicked really easily in terms of writing. Also, voices don't always blend and complement each other the way ours seem to.”

Alex Macdonald, who devised the Between Islands project on behalf of An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway, is hopeful that the project can continue in the coming years; and the collaborative spirit has also extended to the creation of a closer working relationship between the arts centres in Lewis and Shetland. Bryan Peterson of Shetland Arts said: “This is an exciting new project that will unite the Scottish Island groups through creative collaborations with some of the finest artists from each area.

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