Archive: IMBOLC 2019

A three-hour ferry ride across the forty miles between the far northwest of Scotland and the islands of the Outer Hebrides, The Isle of Lewis (population 18,500) is home to the Lewis Psalm Singers whose unique Gaelic singing works as a form of collective vocal improvisation. Gaelic psalm singing is a syncretic form—meaning here a fusion of different cultures--combining the conservative traditions of the Scottish Free Church with the freewheeling improvisatory movements of folk music. It's a music that respects the rituals religious worship while going beyond its spiritual demands.

Psalm singing is at the heart of worship in the Presbyterian Gaelic tradition in Scotland. Bringing with them a unique sound and singing tradition, the Lewis Psalm Singers from the Free Church congregations on the island of Lewis, provide a unique and stunningly beautiful insight into Gaelic culture. The Back Free Church serving the small community of Back is one of the largest psalm singing congregations left on Lewis—its service is conducted entirely in Scottish Gaelic. When the Singers made an appearance in Derek Bailey's 1992 documentary On The Edge, it at once brought their music to a wider audience; helping those unfamiliar with their vocal style and culture more aware of it.

Glórthaí Uladh is a combination of two choirs from Belfast (Cultúrlann Mhic Adaim Ó Fiaich) and Gaoth Dobhair, Donegal, (An Crannóg), directed by award-winning sean-nós singer Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhríde. Steeped in the tradition of Gaelic song, Doimnic composes and arranges a range of songs for the singers and musicians to perform. These include his own compositions set of ancient Gaelic poetry, alongside other well-known airs.

Glórthaí Úladh regularly performs at concerts, events and festivals, offering a stunning sound of melody, harmony and musical accompaniment. To date, the choir has performed at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, on tour to Wales and France, and more recently at the TG4 25th anniversary concert and BBC 2's Ceiliuradh Féíle Padraig.

Featuring musicians:

Conor Caldwell (fiddle)
Frances Morton (flute)
Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhríde (Accordion, uilleann pipes)