Musical celebration of Year of Coasts and Waters goes virtual

Acclaimed traditional musician Ingrid Henderson has written a musical composition inspired by the movements of ocean currents. Photograph: Ingrid Henderson.
Acclaimed traditional musician Ingrid Henderson has written a musical composition inspired by the movements of ocean currents. Photograph: Ingrid Henderson.

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Scotland’s unique marine environment will be celebrated in a special online event to mark the Year of Coasts and Waters.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has commissioned acclaimed traditional musician Ingrid Henderson to create Message in a Bottle, a new musical composition inspired by the movements of ocean currents.

The audio-visual performance with music, song, Gaelic language, film and animation was due to tour festivals across Scotland this summer but the Covid-19 pandemic has inevitably put a halt to live performances for the foreseeable future.

SNH has instead been working with Ingrid on a free virtual event that will allow people to enjoy a taste of the performance from the comfort of home.

The evening of music, chat, film and animation will take place on Wednesday July 8 from 8.30pm, live on Facebook. Ingrid will showcase a small selection of pieces from Message in a Bottle and will be joined in conversation by SNH’s head of Marine Ecosystems, Katie Gillham, to talk about the inspiration behind her work.

Ingrid said: ‘We had an amazing response when we premiered Message in a Bottle at Celtic Connections earlier this year and I was sad not to be able to share that live experience with audiences around the country over the summer.

‘However with a bit of imagination and clever use of technology we have managed to record remotely and create an event that keeps the musicians, artists and audience members safe.

‘It’s been a challenge to record and adapt the material to present online but I’m so thrilled to be able to share some of the tracks from my celebration of Scotland’s coast and waters and hope you can join us for what promises to be a great evening.’

Katie added: ‘Working with Ingrid has really reinforced the strong links between traditional music, Gaelic language and Scotland’s marine environment and it has been fantastic to see our seas and their wildlife brought to life so magically through her music.

‘We had been looking forward to seeing this wonderful commission live at festivals across Scotland but we hope that this taster event will be the next best thing for now, with a full programme of performances already in the works for next year.’

Message in a Bottle also features musicians Anna Massie, Megan Henderson and Conal McDonagh with visuals from Somhairle MacDonald and animation from Cat Bruce.

It explores the incredible journeys of marine wildlife and seabirds, our dependence on the seas over time and the exchanges of language and culture around our coast, while highlighting the impact of climate change on the world’s oceans.

The commission is one of several special SNH projects to celebrate our coasts and waters and their wildlife during the themed year and raise awareness of the importance of healthy seas.

For more information see Scottish Natural Heritage’s Facebook page.