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Duan Nollaig

Duan Nollaig

The first ever CD of Scottish Gaelic Christmas carols is released in December 2007.


Duan Nollaig is a double-CD recording of Scottish Gaelic Christmas carols and was launched in Glasgow at St Andrews in the Square on 10 December 2007.

Cover of Duan Nollaig; Design: Ronan Martin; Courtesy: Greentrax Recordings

Produced by the Mhàiri Mhòr Gaelic Song Fellowship for the Highland Council, in association with Greentrax Recordings, the CD features carols and songs for all ages.  Highland Council has been regarded for some time as a ground-breaker in terms of making Gaelic songs as accessible to as many people as widely as possible and this project is probably the biggest to date.

Fiona Mackenzie, who is the Mhàiri Mhòr Gaelic Song Fellow, had been inundated by requests for a number of years from all over the world to record an album of Scottish Gaelic Christmas songs, and to provide material for Gaelic medium classes in Scottish schools.  The new release will be distributed to the more than 40 primary and secondary schools in the Highlands where Gaelic is taught.

Fiona, a native of Morayshire, won the premier award for Gaelic singing in Scotland - The Ladies Gold Medal - for fluent speakers, at the 2005 Royal National Mod in Stornoway.  The previous year she won the coveted BBC Scotland Traditional Music Personality of The Year Award at the Scots Trad Music Awards.  She was also nominated as Gaelic Singer of the Year in both 2005 and 2006. Fiona Mackenzie, Irvin Duguid; Photo: A Harfield; Courtesy: F Mackenzie

Duan Nollaig

Included in the 35 tracks are some brand new carols being performed for the first time.  The first CD comprises melodic carols and songs, some traditional and some new - Silent Night, Away in a Manger, Reul Thorach an Àigh, Pàiste am Bethlehem (a Manx Carol translated into Scots Gaelic with a Manx chorus) and Naoidhein Prìseil.  The second CD includes songs for children and young people. 

Fiona Mackenzie and DJ Macleod, Dingwall Primary School; Photo: Ian Rynd Some are familiar as translations of favourites such as Child in a Manger, We Wish You a Merry Christmas and The Twelve Days of Christmas, but there are also some new songs suitable for very young children.

Also included are contemporary songs such as Eilidh Mackenzie's Alleluia, a translation of Leonard Cohen's Halleluiah, made popular by Jeff Buckley and featured in the film Shrek.  There are also ballad-style and humorous songs, including Bodach na Nollaig (Father Christmas).

Fiona performs lead vocals on the album, with vocal harmonies provided by Maggie MacDonald, Katie Mackenzie (who also plays clàrsach) and James Graham.

Capercaillie’s Karen Matheson also guests on two tracks.  Other well known musicians include fiddlers Anna Massie, Simon Welsh and Ronan Martin, guitarist John Goldie, drummer Jim Drummond who plays with The Donnie Munro Band, bassist Ed MacFarlane, Hamish Napier (whistles & bamboo flute) and accordionist Gary Innes. The studio Grand decorated with Christmas spirit; Photo: F Mackenzie

Duan Nollaig also debuts the first Gaelic didgeridoo track, played by Charles V. Clark.  Additional vocals are provided by Sarah Jane Scott, Morven MacLeod and Mark Thomson, plus some of the guest musicians.

Duan Nollaig was produced by Irvin Duguid, who also writes film and TV scores.  Fiona wanted the album to have a distinctly different sound to it, to take Gaelic Christmas music to a wider audience who might not traditionally listen to Gaelic or folk music, but to remain true to the Gaelic tradition.  Irvin Duguid approached the project with no pre-conceptions about what Gaelic song should or should not be and was free to experiment with musical genres and styles.

Duan Nollaig Christmas Concert information; Photo: D. Mackenzie

The album will be showcased at a major concert in Glasgow’s St Andrews in the Square on 10 December at 8pm.  All the musicians will be taking part and mulled wine and mince pies will be served.   Tickets are available from the SECxtra website.  The CD will be available in all record shops and online from Greentrax Recordings, Foot Stompin' Celtic Music and the MusicScotland.com website.

For more information and samples of the music, visit Fiona Mackenzie's website.

Funding for Duan Nollaig came from the Scottish Arts Council's Creative Development & Recording fund, Highland Council, Greentrax Recordings and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

Images courtesy Highland Council and F Mackenzie.

Related links
* Fiona Mackenzie
* Highland Council
* Greentrax Recordings
* Bord na Gaidhlig
* Hands Up For Trad
* MusicScotland.com
* Foot Stompin' Celtic Music
* Music home
* Other Music projects
* Music projects archive
* Music features
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