How covid forced community choirs to get back to basics

With communal singing thought to be one of the easiest ways to pass on covid-19, Scotland’s choirs have had to find new ways of engaging with members and audiences alike, writes David Kettle

“I used to be music director, but now I’d say I’m music director and DJ. It’s almost like presenting a TV show.” Conductor Stephen Langston – who directs Glasgow’s Merchant Voices Community Choir – is talking about his move to online choral sessions since the Covid pandemic struck. “We’re still singing pieces, obviously, but we’re also doing quizzes, karaoke, hearing from choir members about what they’ve been doing, and even having a laugh with some funny photos or YouTube clips.”

Diversification is clearly key, as are raising spirits and providing a sense of community that’s all but disappeared from in-person lives. But it’s a challenging time for community choirs. The well-being benefits of choral singing are well known and well documented. But in a period when they’re more needed than ever, amateur singers can no longer meet in person. Worse, singing with others is thought to be one of the riskiest activities in terms of aerosol virus transmission. Continue reading

Breabach at Celtic Colours

This beautiful and energetic melding of instruments and Gaelic song brilliantly reflects the musicianship, traditional roots and contemporary influences of award-winning Scottish group Breabach. Featuring Calum MacCrimmon (bagpipes, whistle), Megan Henderson (fiddle, vocals), Ewan Robertson (guitar), James Duncan Mackenzie (bagpipes, flute), and James Lindsay (double bass), it was recorded during Celtic Colours International Festival at Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre on October 19, 2019.

Knees Up: Knees Up in Hanoi (Calum MacCrimmon) / Dòchas Glan Na Fàire (Ewen Henderson & Calum MacCrimmon)

Scottish PM Nicola Sturgeon announces £500 one-off ‘thank you’ payment for NHS and care staff

Climber’s ‘final tour’ of his beloved Glen Coe

the Fox of Glencoe


The world-renowned mountaineer and inventor Dr Hamish MacInnes, who died this week, aged 90, is to be taken on a “final tour” of his beloved Glen Coe.

Mr MacInnes, who was born in Gatehouse of Fleet in Dumfries and Galloway, moved to the glen in 1959.

A hearse carrying his coffin, which will have two crossed ice axes on top, will pass through Glencoe village and then Glen Coe on 4 December.

Dr MacInnes is to be cremated in a private ceremony in Glasgow.

During the journey the hearse will stop briefly outside Glencoe’s David Cooper’s Coffee Shop, where Dr MacInnes was a regular for many years and could be found sat a table with a pot of tea “with only a very weak passing of a tea bag,” according to friends.

The hearse will then pause at Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team centre – Dr MacInnes founded the team and was a former team leader – and finally outside his home in Glen Coe before heading for Glasgow.

Dr MacInnes climbed the Matterhorn in the Alps when he was just 16 and went on to found mountain rescue teams, lead expeditions and write books on mountaineering.

Dr MacInnes is credited with inventing climbing’s first all-metal ice axe and a rescue stretcher. Continue reading

Karine Polwart “Enough is Enough”

This piece of music has been composed with the express purpose of inviting choirs, street bands and community groups to learn and perform it, and join an exciting, collective musical response to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) which will be held in Glasgow in November 2021.

Want to get involved? Express interest & sign up for more info at We extend the invite far and wide, to any music collective interested in joining the global call for swift action on climate justice and a shift to an economic model that values collective wellbeing above relentless economic growth.

This piece is a co-creation between Karine Polwart, Oi Musica & The Soundhouse Choir Music –

Song and lyrics by Karine Polwart
Choral arrangement / additional lyrics by Heather MacLeod
Brass and Percussion arrangements by Marcus Britton & Olivia Furness Produced by Marty Hailey @ Metro 13 Music, Edinburgh