Music fans are in for a big treat this Christmas at the Town Hall, as the Stornoway Singers and Stornoway Swing Band bring their talents together for the Singers annual Christmas concert.

Taking to the Town Hall stage on 13th December, the big choir and big band will be combining the best of traditional carols as well as upbeat swing songs for the audience who will of course be encouraged to sing (and swing) along with the festive numbers. 

Gavin Woods, Music Director of the Stornoway Swing Band, is working on the programme with the Stornoway Singers, which looks set to be one of festive fun for all the family.  The Christmas carols will have a brass accompaniment, while the more upbeat numbers, like Bing Crosbys Let It Snow, will enjoy the backing of the full big band.  It should be a phenomenal sound,says Cath Fish, Conductor of the Stornoway Singers.

This years Christmas concert will have the same fun, relaxed festival feel as last years, with the audience seated around tables, a bring-your-own-bottle policy, and tasty home baking provided by the singers. 

It follows hot on the heels of the choirs cabaret performance, A Night at the Musicals, which was being held at the Caberfeidh Hotel on November 8th.

With the Town Hall decked out in Christmas decorations, and the Stornoway Singers and Swing Band serenading the audience, the December evening will be full of entertainment.  Tickets can be purchased at Nicolsons Newsagents and By Rosie, both on Cromwell Street.

Written by Katie Macleod for EVENTS newspaper and welovestornoway.com

People in Lewis and Harris get the chance tonight to find out how Common Weal encourages us to ‘switch on the light and see what Scotland can be’.

The Common Weal was formed in 2013, but the momentum ultimately caused by the referendum seems to really have pushed things forward. Groups have popped up all over Scotland, and one has recently been formed in Lewis and Harris, and it will be meeting tonight (30th October), at 8pm, in the Grianan Centre on Westview Terrace.

It’s important to point out, firstly, that, though the referendum may have inspired the idea of Common Weal, it is not about pushing for independence in the future – the Common Weal is a group welcoming anybody with a desire to make things better for the people of Scotland.  It prides itself on being politically neutral, stating on its website: “a large majority of those involved believe that Scotland needs the full powers of independence... But not all do. What they do all agree on is that Common Weal should represent Scotland's future…”

Common Weal supports tried and tested techniques used by other governments to create a fairer society, and encourages all its members and supporters to look around, search the globe, and see which countries are doing better than Scotland, and see what we can do to emulate this.

Its aims are to encourage “real” democracy, stating that: “Democracy is a system which lets the citizens of a nation decide how that nation is run, what it does, how it behaves,” and “When citizens vote in an election they should not be handing over a blank cheque and they are certainly not crowning an absolute ruler.”

Just some of the other beliefs behind Common Weal are the importance of: improving childcare; creating more jobs; ‘making energy work for us’; changing from ‘Minimum Wage’ to ‘Living Wage’; creating a Scottish National Investment Bank.

If you fancy being a part of this, or just knowing a little more about it all, go along to the Grianan Centre tonight (30th October) at 8pm.

To read more about Common Weal, click here

To show support for The Common Weal Lewis and Harris group, click here. 

Written by Melissa Silver for welovestornoway.com

Museum artefacts to form part of exhibitions detailing the 
extraordinary human cost of WWI to the Hebrides

Artefacts from the renowned In Flanders Fields museum in Ypres, Belgium, are to form part of a series of exhibitions commemorating the remarkable human sacrifice of the Hebrides population during World War I.

Beginning later this month, the exhibitions are part of the Gairm nan Gàidheal project being run by Pròiseact nan Ealan. The initiative aims to discover and retell the stories of the island communities who experienced the devastating impact of the First World War more than most other areas.

Opening the first event at an Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway on October 31 will be distinguished historian and author Trevor Royle, who has contributed to the curation of the exhibitions and to the overall project. The exhibitions start on the Isle of Lewis, where the impact of the war was acutely felt. 

With a total population of less than 30,000, more than 6,500 Lewismen saw service between 1914 and 1919. In total, 1,151 men from the island’s four parishes were killed on active service - around 17% of those who left for war and one of the highest proportions of any community in the United Kingdom.

The devastating impact of war on the already small and fragile communities that were left behind – as well as recollections of what the men faced when they reached the front line – will be detailed through photos, words and memorabilia on show. Among these artefacts will be items on loan from the internationally acclaimed In Flanders Fields museum, whose research staff are supporting the Gairm nan Gàidheal project. Organisers have also worked across the islands to research the exhibitions and explore personal accounts handed down through the generations, all of which will go towards painting a picture of the effect the war had on the Hebrides.

An Lanntair's Head of Visual Arts & Literature Roddy Murray said: “We are delighted to host this important, compelling exhibition and proud to give it the profile and the exposure within the community that it deserves in this centenary year.” 

The exhibition at an Lanntair will be in conjunction with annual Hebridean Book Festival, Faclan, which will include a number of other commemorative war events.

For further information, visit the Faclan website.