Skye Gaelic Song and Traditions with Mary Ann KennedySTART: 25 August 2014
END: 29 August 2014
COST (STUDENT): £140
This summer, we are offering another chance of a unique course in the company of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s current Musician-in-Residence, singer and BBC broadcaster Mary Ann Kennedy.
Mary Ann’s music comes from her mother’s family, the Campbells of Greepe, pipers and singers from this tiny township in the north-west of Skye who have gone on to have a major impact on the contemporary Gaelic musical world. The family can boast no fewer than ten Mòd Gold Medals amongst seven of their number, but in truth their music has far more to do with the community – the place and the people – that they grew up in, at a time where song was the constant in work, play and worship.
In this course based at SMO, Mary Ann will act as guide to the songs and their stories, the sources and singers, the history and the place-names of Greepe on a dramatic headland on Loch Bracadale looking onto the famous MacLeod’s tables and the Cuillin hills. The songs will include the repertoire of local poet, Dòmhnall Ruadh Campbell, favourite repertoire of Mary Ann’s own family, pìobaireachd songs and above all the puirt-à-beul of which this family of singers are rightly regarded as masters. As part of the course there will be the opportunity to take a trip north to see the area and put the singers, songs and community into context.
Mary Ann is a proud Glasgow Gael, born and bred, but with deep family connections to the islands of Skye and Tiree. She trained as a classical musician from an early age at Scotland’s first state-funded music school, graduated from the RSAMD, now RCS, and went on to her Master’s degree at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where she was also the first harpist to be awarded the conservatoire’s highest performance diploma. She worked for some years in the BBC’s Gaelic news service, and combined both disciplines in a long music broadcasting career that earned her Presenter of the Year at the international Celtic Media Festival. She is currently based in Ardgour in the West Highlands where she and her husband run the highly acclaimed creative centre and recording studios, Watercolour Music, and she has produced a long series of highly successful albums for other artists including the 2012 Gaelic Singer of the Year, Riona Whyte.
As part of The Campbells of Greepe, along with her mother and uncle, Kenna and Seumas, her sister Wilma Kennedy and cousin Maggie Macdonald, she has released a family album ‘Fonn’, produced by Grammy award-winner, Jerry Boys (Buena Vista Social Club), and a major hardback biography and music collection of the same name on Acair Books, both of which will be useful references for the week’s course.