Hebrides | August 2019

Conducted by our Artistic Directors Holly Mathieson and Jon Hargreaves Nevis gave 40 concerts in public spaces and community venues on Barra, Vatersay, Eriskay, South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist, Berneray, Harris, St Kilda, Lewis and Skye, as well as in Garelochhead, Inverary, Ardfern, Oban, Fort William and Glasgow. 

A highlight of the tour saw the whole orchestra travel on four chartered boats to Hirta, the main island of St Kilda, on 25 August. The most remote group of islands in the British Isles, and evacuated in 1930, the archipelago is now home to a million seabirds, National Trust rangers and military personnel.

We also gave the world premiere of a new work by Rufus Elliot GEILT (a number of ways), based on the composer’s experiences in and around the Hebrides as well as the North of Scotland and Georgia, as part of our ongoing partnership with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Another new piece that was a hit with audiences and musicians alike was Mairead nan cuiread, an arrangement of a traditional Waulking Song from the Isle of Lewis, which saw the orchestra sing in Gaelic and play at the same time!

Every performance was different in terms of programming, and other repertoire included works spanning Mozart, Debussy, Lutoslawski, James MacMillan and Shiori Usui, as well as pop music by A-Ha and Toto, and arrangements of Scottish ceilidh tunes and Gaelic songs. There is even some Shirley Bassey for those who feel like testing out their lung power .

This tour was able to happen thanks to the support of Creative Scotland, The Robertson Trust, Calendonian MacBryane Ferries, Witherby Publishing Group Charitable Trust, Foundation Scotland, William Grant Foundation, An Lanntair, Scottish Water, Save Some Green and Cubby’s Midge Salves.