They may be geographically removed and unique in their own way, but Scotland’s northernmost islands share many cultural connections, not least their Viking heritage and a tradition of expressing their distinctive lifestyles through music. Now a new project, Between Islands, has fused together the collective talents of the three Island groups, featuring a trio of outstanding songwriters to produce a collection of songs for the current generation.
The resulting work by Kris Drever, (Orkney), Arthur Nicholson, (Shetland), and Willie Campbell from the Isle of Lewis will be heard for the first time this summer when it is to be the opening concert for the Hebridean Celtic Festival in Stornoway on 15 July .The boys then take to the air to travel on, appropriately, to Stromness (17 July) and Lerwick , where they will play Mareel on 18 July . Travel for the event has been sponsored by Loganair. Phil Preston, Chief Operating Officer for the airline, commented that “the islands play an important part of Loganair’s network, so we were humbled to be asked to offer some support.”
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 The Between Islands project on behalf of An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway, is hopeful that the project can continue in the coming years. “Between Islands is about a collective celebration of Island talent, an exploration of our ties rather than our differences. It seemed to me that we could make something very special happen by working together, and this first outing is a positive indicator of what we can achieve across all arts disciplines in the future.”
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."
With such talent on show the Mareel gig is certain to be one to remember. Tickets will be on sale from May 22 through Shetland Box Office, in person at Mareel and Isleburgh, over the phone on 01595 745555 or online at www.shetlandboxoffice.com.