Open-air concert announced for Skye's Cuillin

It is the rocky mountain range that offers some of the most rugged landscapes and challenging climbs in Britain.

The Concert in a Coire on Skye will feature a performance by cellist Duncan Strachan and violinist George Smith. Photograph: Alex Martin
The Concert in a Coire on Skye will feature a performance by cellist Duncan Strachan and violinist George Smith. Photograph: Alex Martin

But now the Cuillin on the Isle of Skye is set to provide the backdrop to a spectacular open-air concert.

Audiences will face a two-hour walk from Glen Brittle beach to the corrie where the hour-long performance will unfold.

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The “Concert in a Coire” event, which will have a capacity of 75, will be staged in near-darkness and postponed in the event of a downpour.

Just two musicians, violinist George Smith and cellist Duncan Strachan, will be joining forces with sound engineer Sam Annand to stage the site-specific performance in the natural “amphitheatre” of Coire Lagan.

However, a 30-strong team of mountain guides and volunteers will be working on the concert on 15 April, which is believed to be the first event of its type to be staged in the Cuillin. It will feature specially created music and sound effects inspired by the corrie, which boasts a tiny loch surrounded by gigantic rock peaks, Skye’s traditional music heritage and ancient Gaelic song. Field recordings of water, wind and rock captured in the area will be deployed in the show, which will also feature lighting effects will transform the corrie as the natural light fades from the day.

Each audience member will be given a head torch for the walk back down the mountain path from Coire Lagan to Glen Brittle, where local produce and ales will be served up on their return from the concert.

The concert will be staged 12 years on from arts organisations NVA’s acclaimed sound and light show The Storr, which brought 6,500 people onto the Old Man of Storr at Trotternish, on Skye.

Skye-based mountain guide John Smith, the brother of the violinist who will be performing, has been planning the Cuillin event for the last 18 months.

He said: “Skye is definitely on the radar as an alternative destination at the moment and the Cuillin is an exciting place to be. As far as we know nothing like this has ever been staged in the Cuillin before. It’s kind of been inspired by going to parties in the mountains before. I like the logistics of it, the sheer enjoyment of putting stuff where it shouldn’t be and taking speakers into the mountains.

“We’re not trying to create any kind of elitist event. There’s obviously a little bit of physical fitness required to get up to the lochan, but we would hope to see a range of people there of all different age groups and abilities.

“We want it to be a see-through programme that people understand rather than some kind of ambiguous, pseudo-intellectual thing. It’s just going to be about the enjoyment of the mountains and the music.”

The event has been timed to avoid the peak midge season as well as to ensure there is not too much daylight.

Craig Gallagher, co-producer of the concert, said: “The performance will near its end at the time the sun is due to go down. If the weather is right the corrie should be dark enough for the projections to light up the lochan and the surrounding cliffs.

“But it’s going to all about the experience of hearing live music. It will be fascinating to see and hear how that will work, especially for the audience who will experience it. It will appeal to people who are into classical music or are real audiophiles, but also people who are really interested in hearing and experiencing something different.”