In line with many other initiatives, the Between Islands Project found itself in a position where this years planned activities had to be cancelled due to the covid virus and ensuing lockdown situation. Originated by An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway, and funded through the LEADER 2014-2020 regional cooperation scheme, the project had been working with artists from Orkney, Shetland and the Hebrides in the creation of a series of collaborative events. Musical performances were planned for both Shetland Folk Festival and Heb Celt in Lewis for the summer of 2020, where all thirteen musicians involved in the project were due to perform.
Project coordinator Alex Macdonald explains: “As the project was based on live events, initially we were at a loss as to how it could be saved. Thankfully we were able to redesign what was planned, and this double CD contains both live work previously captured and a series of entirely new tracks recorded in lockdown.”
The three original Between Islands projects are represented individually on the CD, with contributions from the song writing project – Kris Drever, Willie Campbell and Arthur Nicholson – the fiddle project, – Maggie Adamson, Jane Macmillan and Louise Bichan, – and the folk project – Saltfishforty, Julie Fowlis, Kathleen Macinnes, Maggie Adamson and Jenny Keldie – all providing a number of tracks each. However, as lockdown also presented the opportunity to get artists who had not previously worked together before to collaborate, there are also ten entirely new works.
Pairings include Julie Fowlis with Arthur Nicholson, Kris Drever with Linda Macleod and Saltishforty with Jane Macmillan, illustrating how the artists worked both across Island areas and projects. In addition, the artists from each area recorded a collective “island track” and these open the studio CD. Therefore Hebrideans Willie Campbell, Kathleen Macinnes and Julie Fowlis perform together, as do Orcadian Kris Drever, Louise Bichan and Saltfishforty.
The collection is complimented by a series of online performances which can be accessed on the Between Islands youtube channel.