Hugh Smith’s letter from Islay
FOR THE first time in its long history, Finlaggan, the ancient seat of the Lords of the Isles, became the venue for an event mounted as part of the Fèis Ìle 2016 programme.
Glorious weather attracted a large number of supporters to the historic site’s open day at which the Vintage Malt Whisky Company provided the spirited hospitality and committee members enticed with their home baking.
Finlaggan is no stranger to the skirl of the bagpipes, and the rippling sound of the clarsach was on hand. Providing a selection of tunes on both were pipers Fiona Anne Fletcher and Rachel MacKinnon, and harpist Helen McSkimming.
Guided tours on past history were led by Finlaggan Trust members David Caldwell, Rona MacKenzie and chairman Donald Bell, and the mercifully less invasive Viking presence provided the starring role for Adrian Fallows.
The Vintage Malt Whisky Company’s donation of a bottle of the Fèis Ìle Finlaggan Single Malt along with bottles of Lord of the Isles and Dark Cove, courtesy of Ardbeg Distillery, ensured eager participation in the fundraising raffle.
Both locals and visitors gave their full-hearted support to the Finlaggan festivities, much to the delight of the grateful organisers.
THIS year’s Cantilena festival of chamber music runs from Sunday to Friday July 3 to 8, and will see the visiting musicians performing in a variety of venues throughout the island.
It all begins on July 3 at the St Columba Gaelic Centre on the outskirts of Bowmore, where the accent will be on works by Haydn, Mozart and Schumann.
Young musicians will be showcased at Laphroaig Distillery on Monday July 4 and among those appearing will be violinist Colin McKee, Ben Burnley on double bass and pianist Scott Mitchell. Scott will join his fellow pianist Havil- land Willshire and oboe player Siobhan Parker at the Gaelic Centre on Tuesday where their selections will include compositions by Ravel, Scarlatti and Grieg.
Lagavulin Distillery will be the Wednesday setting for an evening of music featuring the double bass, and among those pulling the strings will be Paul Marrion, a decided festival veteran, and Ben Burnley, whose performance delighted the island audiences last year.
Thursday evening’s event in Ardbeg Distillery will be devoted to the magic of Mozart and among the delights on offer will be the Salzburg Symphony in D and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.
The festival closes on the Friday evening with a classical ceilidh in the Bruichladdich village hall where the programme will include Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for String.
By popular demand, the Cantilena musicians are returning this year to the Rhinns Hall at Portnahaven on Thursday June 30 where they will present a programme of light classics. This, and all the other Cantilena concerts, will begin at 7.30pm.
A PRESBYTERIAN pastor from the US will be the locum minister for the vacant charges of Kilarrow, Kildalton and Oa, and Jura for the next four weeks.
The Rev Dr David Davis, minister of the Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, New Jersey, will be occupying the pulpits at the Round Church at Bowmore, St John’s Church at Port Ellen and Jura Parish Church on the outskirts of Craighouse.
Dr Davis, a native of Pittsburgh, has been in his present charge for the past 16 years and is a Harvard University graduate and visiting lecturer at the Princeton Theological Seminary.
He and his wife Cathy, also a minister, are looking forward to their island visit and are assured of a warm welcome from both the Ìlich and the Diùraich. Hugh Smith, 4 Flora Street, Bowmore, Islay PA43 7JX. Tel: 01496 810 658.
Cantilena Chamber Orchestra will entertain.