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Sgoil Chi¨il Na GÓidhealtachd SCGCD017D

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been listening to the CDs showcasing the students’ work at the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music for 17 years. I still remember being blown away by the standard demonstrated. I don’t quite have the full set but each subsequent release I’ve listened to has been equally inspiring, expressing confidence not just in the playing but somehow in the ethos and accomplishments of the school itself. This one is no different. The first track, Anaïs Mitchell’s Why Do We Build The Wall, shows how assured they have become as they push the boundaries.

The selection of material, by the students themselves, is broad and varied; several from the core of the tradition, some contemporary pieces and student compositions. There’s Gaelic and Scots song, tunes, solo and ensemble playing using every instrument used in traditional Scottish music. The quality is all the more remarkable when you factor in that these young musicians integrate their musical education with a standard secondary education. They must work hard.

It’s all good so I’m only going to single out one more track, the final one, An Assynt Man’s Visit To Glasgow, written by a student for his grandfather, Roddy MacKenzie who, “imbued two generations of his family with a love of music and the joy of singing” and to whom the album is dedicated. We owe so much to these tradition bearers.

There are three good reasons to get this album: firstly, it’s great value; secondly, every one sold helps secure the future of traditional music; but most importantly it’s such good music. You don’t have to believe me. Log onto their website and listen to some samples.

Iain Campbell

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This album was reviewed in Issue 124 of The Living Tradition magazine.