A series of new works by leading artists will be shown this month by the Hebridean Celtic Festival, which was due to mark its 25th anniversary this year.
Seisean HebCelt (HebCelt Sessions) will bring a programme of short films to the festival’s YouTube, Facebook and Instagram channels from July 15 to 18, at 8pm each night.
In addition to ensuring the show does go on, albeit virtually, the films will shine a light on Hebridean life, showcase some of its finest musicians and offer a retrospective of past festivals.
While the economic impact of Hebcelt will not be as strongly felt this year, the newly commissioned films do offer an opportunity raise money for charity.
The festival has set up a Just Giving page for donations to the Bethesda Hospice in Stornoway, which provides four hospice beds for specialist palliative care and 30 care home beds.
The five-minute films will start with Freumhan (Roots) – a project commissioned earlier in the year and which was scheduled to be part of the 25th anniversary celebrations.
It features Calum Alex MacMillan, Norrie Maciver from Skipinnish and Breabach’s James D. Mackenzie and was inspired by the people, landscapes, legends and life of Lewis.
The following evening brings a Julie Fowlis commission, Puirt, is a puirt à beul (mouth music-song for dance), which features the combined talents of 16 singers, musicians and dancers.
Friday evening will showcase ‘Only the Brave’, a composition by Runrig’s Rory Macdonald, featuring Rory and Colin MacLeod on vocals and a hand-picked cast of musicians.
Closing the weekend sessions will be a 30-minute film including footage and interviews gathered over recent HebCelt festivals, along with lockdown interviews.
Festival director, Caroline Maclennan, said: “Our focus was to contract with artists and other creatives from the Hebrides to produce new and high quality engaging online content to reach out to our global audience following the postponement of this year’s event due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are so fortunate to be able to work with such talented and dedicated Hebridean artists and to bring these fresh commissions to our HebCelt audiences, albeit virtually.
“We will so miss partying with them all this July. We are grateful to Creative Scotland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for their continued festival support.”
She added: “We know that HebCelt’s huge local economic impact will be missed this year and the festival team wanted to be able to give something back.
“We chose Bethesda Hospice as the charity of preference to benefit from Seisean HebCelt.
“This will allow us to help generate donations for a very worthwhile cause, one close to the hearts of many Hebrideans.”
Carol Somerville, general manager at Bethesda Hospice, said: “HebCelt is a very important part of the culture and local economy so we are extremely pleased to have this support.
“These Sessions will provide some welcome relief and enjoyment.”