A special flight has been arranged to take 70 island pupils to Celtic Connections on Friday, following fears that the ferries might not run.
Flight operator, Loganair, came to the rescue following a plea by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Chairman of Transportation and Infrastructure, Councillor Uisdean Robertson.
Performances will include 70 island pupils from the Dìleab: Air a' Chuan project, Willie Campbell & Band, Ceitlin Lilidh and Pàdruig Morrison with the Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band, the Sir E Scott Choir from Harris, singers and musicians from Castlebay Community School in Barra and The Nicolson Institute in Lewis, as well as other island musicians including Iain 'Costello' MacIver and Neil Johnstone.
Councillor Robertson said: “It is a fantastic honour for the Island pupils to be playing at such a prestigious event and when we heard that ferries were likely to be cancelled during the week due to the high winds, it was feared that they might not make it to Glasgow for rehearsals and the concert itself. We have a very good working relationship with Loganair and when they heard of the dilemma facing our pupils they readily offered to provide a plane. We are very grateful to Loganair for their support.”
The chartered flight will make two trips to Glasgow on Wednesday, via Stornoway and Benbecula.
Kay Ryan, Chief Commercial Officer at Loganair, said: "We are delighted we’ve been able to help the children get to Glasgow. We know how important this event is for them after all the hard work they have put in and we hope they have an amazing time at Celtic Connections."
Dìleab Project Director, Rhona Johnstone, said: “We are delighted that the young people from our Western Isles schools have been invited to perform at this year’s Celtic Connections festival at the Dileab: Air a' Chuain concert on Friday night to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 and explore the rich connection we have to the waters and coasts surrounding our own islands. In addition to the main concert, our pupils from Castlebay Community School, along with Willie Campbell, have been asked to perform in the Coastal Connections Festival in a Day event taking place in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday, 18th January.”
“Playing at a world renowned festival such as Celtic Connections is a tremendous opportunity for the pupils to showcase their talents and we have immense pride in all our young people taking part.”
“Getting 80 pupils and staff to Glasgow in January was always going to be risky given the weather we so often get this time of year. We are extremely grateful to Loganair for their assistance to make sure that everyone gets down in time to meet up and rehearse together. We would also like to acknowledge the support received from ferry company Caledonian MacBrayne, who are one of the partners of the Celtic Connections festival. Calmac very generously sponsored our ferry travel, which we will still be using on the return journey, but have also been very helpful in providing assistance and advice with regards to our travel position and who have done all possible to help our situation during the stormy conditions”
The concert follows on from the success of the previous Dìleab events of 2018, the recording and subsequent launch of the EP of 5 songs which Willie Campbell was commissioned to write and the hugely successful concert in November 2019 in Ionad Spòrs Leòdhais where 60 young musicians from Lewis & Harris performed alongside Face the West, The Tumbling Souls & Skipinnish.
The concert will take place in the New Auditorium of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall at 7:30pm on Friday 17th January 2020. There are a few remaining tickets which can be purchased for the event at Celtic Connections here.