New Music Biennial 2014
Discover new music all over the UK

Mary Ann KennedyMary Ann Kennedy



‘Aiseag’ (The Ferryboat) is connection. A lifelong fascination creates a journey between the Highlands and Canada’s Gaelic diaspora. Electronica and found sound, Cape Breton and Scottish Highland musicians, a Gaelic choir and a Glasgow string section are all aboard with composers Mary Ann Kennedy and Scott
Macmillan, audio designer Nick Turner and poet, Aonghas MacNeacail.

"I am extremely excited to be collaborating with Mary Ann, Nick and writer Aonghas MacNeacail for the New Music Biennial, exploring cultural connections that are ferried between the Celtic diaspora of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia and the Celtic nations of the UK. The project will also fulfil a personal ambition to create new music for contemporary Gaelic writing." Scott Macmillan, Nova Scotia, Canada, composer/guitarist

"We hope that ‘Aiseag’ for the New Music Biennal will help inspire an understanding of two sister cultures within the Commonwealth, rooted in part in the dramatic landscape that surrounds our Watercolour Music studios in Highland Scotland. It continues our ongoing passion for the connections between language, music, people, land – and of course, sea." Nick Turner, Director, Watercolour Music

About Mary Ann Kennedy

Mary Ann Kennedy is the 2013 Musician-in-residence (Ceòladair air Mhuinntearas) at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college of the University of the Highlands and Islands on the Isle of Skye.

Dubbed Scotland’s ‘First Lady of World Music’, Mary Ann Kennedy has been surrounded by music all her life. Her earliest memories are of her mam’s folk group rehearsing in the front room at nights, and of Gaelic songs all around her in the close-knit Glasgow Gaelic and Highland communities of the 70s. She is part of the younger generation of one of the great dynasties of Gaelic song, the Campbells of Greepe from the Isle of Skye. She also trained intensively as a classical musician, and was a founder pupil of the first state-funded specialist music school in the UK.

She studied at the RSAMD in Glasgow and at Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where she was the first harpist ever to be given the college’s highest performance award. She is a double Mòd Gold Medallist at Gaeldom’s premier festival of language and music, and twice winner of the Concours International de la Harpe Celtique in Lorient, France. She is the recipient of a Saltire Award for her groundbreaking Gaelic choral work, ‘Lasair Dhè’, and continues to work with the award-winning Còisir Ghàidhlig Inbhirnis (Inverness Gaelic Choir).

Mary Ann spent several years working for, and latterly running, the Gaelic news service of the BBC before leaving to concentrate on her own music. Her career now combines both passions – music and broadcasting – and she is one of the most highly-respected performers and commentators on the Scottish music scene, championing the place of Scotland’s burgeoning contemporary talent in the global roots firmament. Her profile as a world/roots music presenter on radio and television was recognised in 2007, when she was named ‘Radio Presenter of the Year’ at the international Celtic Media Awards. She currently presents the Friday night ‘World on 3’ on BBC Radio 3.

Mary Ann is also in demand as a music producer – she directed the music for the award-winning BBC TV series on Gaelic song, ‘Aig Cridhe ar Ciùil’ and has produced albums for many other singers and musicians. Her work is based at the residential recording studios and creative retreat developed by herself and husband Nick Turner at Watercolour Music in the Scottish West Highlands. Current projects include the debut album for BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year, Rona Wilkie and duo partner, Marit Fält.  

Mary Ann was a member of the highly-acclaimed Gaelic band ‘Cliar’, winners of ‘all-time’ Best Album at the inaugural Scots Trad Music Awards. Her current work concentrates on a major book and album project, ‘Fonn’, showcasing the music and history of her mother’s family, the Campbell singing dynasty and an album celebrating Glasgow’s immigrant Gaelic song heritage, to be released in 2014.


Watercolour MusicAbout Watercolour Music

Watercolour Music is a music production company and recording studio complex in the beautiful West Highlands of Scotland, owned and run by producer and songwriter Nick Turner and his wife, musician and broadcaster Mary Ann Kennedy. 

Watercolour Music's studios have been at the heart of a huge range and number of recordings, many of them award-winners. All musical life is here – pop and rock, americana, jazz, country, dance, hip-hop, spiritual, classical, traditional and medieval. As producer and engineer, Nick has recorded major names and emerging artists, and everything from choirs to rock bands to fire extinguishers.



Aiseag, New Music BiennialBBC Radio 3





The performance of Aiseag will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 9 August 2014 and will be available as a download in MP3 and FLAC formats here on 25 August 2014.


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