Isle of Lewis Report 2022-23

It has been a challenging couple of years for our branch, but I am glad to say that we are emerging from the fog and finding our way again as a group. We started with our AGM in September where we only had our minimum quorate present and we were unsure how to proceed. I, reluctantly, became our convenor, temporarily, as well as being the committee member in charge of Harp Hire & our Branch representative, but I would be overjoyed to find someone who would take over the convenor role for us on a more permanent basis as I really cannot do the role justice with my various commitments on and off the island already.

We are very grateful to the Creative Scotland Covid Recovery Grant from the Society which funded our first group of 3 workshops to get us going again. After we reached out personally to some old friends, we were so excited to see historical members returning into our fold. Since then we have enjoyed a further 5 workshops together in our new venue at St. Peter’s church hall, which is a little smaller but a more central location. Harp hire payments have been keeping us going and it is encouraging that are accounts are so healthy despite our numbers still being quite low.

Some of our youth members have had very productive years.

  • Fiona Langley achieved 2nd place at the Perth Mòd, performed at the Glasgow Concert Hall with the Harris girl-group Alt at the Celtic Connections festival and had an inspirational time at the Michael Rooney youth outreach workshop at the EIHF before she rushed off to sing with NYCOS – she’s a very busy girl! She also combined her skills for the first time, singing with clàrsach accompaniment at the Harris local Mòd in June.
  • Isla is developing her confidence and joined the Teen Fèis with her Clàrsach for the first time this year in July, alongside her piping skills.
  • Charlie surprised herself by learning to play the clàrsach up to Grade 3 standard in one year, achieving a B in her Nat 5 music exam. She now looks forward to taking her Higher music exam next year.
  • Mairi Anna Binns has completed her 2nd year at the Junior Royal Conservatoire of Music, this time as a Pedal Harpist in the Classical Department. She has thoroughly enjoyed her tuition from Sharron Griffiths and now looks forward to moving to Italy as she prepares to start tuition with Anna Lorro at the Luco Marenzio Conservatory in Brescia. She also achieved a Merit in her Grade 5 Theory exam and pushed herself forward to be the Edinburgh Youth Orchestra’s only harpist this year at their Easter & Summer courses with their most recent performances in Edinburgh, Glasgow & Paisley. Mairi Anna assures me however that her clàrsach playing will never be left behind and will be taking her Norris with her to Italy. We wish her all the best for the future within the music industry, in whatever form that takes.

    Màiri Macleod, Branch Convenor