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Music and song to begin Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s anniversary year celebrations

Throughout 2013 Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI will be holding a series of special events to celebrate the Gaelic college’s 40th anniversary. Since first offering Gaelic summer courses in Sleat on Skye 40 years ago, SMO has grown to become the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture and forms part of the University of the Highlands and Islands. The college offers a variety of undergraduate, degree, and postgraduate programmes as well as a number of short courses, part-time courses and distance learning options and there are currently over 1,100 students enrolled across all courses at the college (including short courses, college-based programmes and distance learning).

To begin the historic year two special musical events will be held in January. On the 12th SMO will hold an Old New Year cèilidh in the Talla Mhòr at the college where staff, students and the community will come together to bring in the Old New Year, and reminisce about the college’s past. The event starts at 7pm with a tatties and herring supper and the cèilidh will follow.

Then on 19th January a special gala concert, SMO@40, will be held at Celtic Connections in Glasgow where a host of top-class musicians associated with the college will gather to celebrate the college’s contribution to music and its 40 years. The night is in honour of Sabhal Mòr and the critical role it plays as the National Centre for the Gaelic Language, Culture and the Arts, and to pay tribute to and to celebrate the contribution which the institution has made to the cultural life of Scotland over these last forty years.

Among the musicians taking part are Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, Julie Fowlis, Alasdair Fraser, Fergie MacDonald, Margaret Stewart, James Graham, Allan MacDonald, Decker Forrest, Mary Anne Kennedy, Dàimh, Allan Henderson, Iain MacDonald, Angus Nicolson, Ingrid Henderson, Andrew MacPherson, Murdo Cameron and Alasdair Whyte.

SMO’s Principal Boyd Robertson said: “Who would have believed back in September 1973 when the first short course was held in the old steading at Ostaig that Sabhal Mòr would attain the status it has today as the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture with a strong international dimension. This year’s events will give us the opportunity to acknowledge Iain Noble’s vision in founding the college and the sterling work of the stalwarts who helped him translate his vision into a reality. It will also give thousands who have been students at Sabhal Mòr the chance to renew their ties with the College and to contribute to its mission and future development. But we shall not just be looking back at what has transpired in the past 40 years. The year 2013 will be momentous also because it will see the opening of an important new chapter in the development of Sabhal Mòr through the Kilbeg project which will see the creation of a new village close to the college and provide a range of new facilities for the college and the community.”

Director of Development, Fundraising and the Arts for the college Donnie Munro commented: “Since its inception Sabhal Mòr Ostaig has been at the forefront of the efforts to ensure the revival and regeneration of the Gaelic language, culture and community and 40 years down the line, it is fitting to both reflect on that remarkable journey and to look forward to the next exciting and challenging stage of the journey with all the important planned developments associated with the Kilbeg Village development, the renovation of the original Ostaig steading and all the other educational and cultural programmes and initiatives that are now very much a part of Sabhal Mòr’s on-going work. I am particularly delighted that the Celtic Connections Concert is the first major event of this special year and that so many outstanding artists and performers have agreed to come together to pay tribute to and to honour the contribution which  Sabhal Mòr Ostaig has made to the cultural life of Scotland.”

Throughout the rest of the year, a series of events will be held as part of the celebrations. In March students from the college’s music courses will embark on a tour around schools and communities in the Highlands and Islands, and in April musicians and tutors from SMO will take part in a special Ceòl is Craic event in Glasgow, which will feature both music and short courses. During the summer, three major conferences will be held – Community Land Scotland, Creative Futures from Creative Scotland, and the Celtic Neighbours conference – which will focus on various strands including language, culture, community and the arts. A special exhibition will also be held to explore the history of the college and in September the first day of the very first course at Sabhal Mòr will be commemorated.

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