Duo album celebrates Manx Gaelic language

By Siobhan Fletcher   |   Reporter   |
Sunday 19th June 2022 2:14 am
@siobhanfletcher
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Two shining lights of the thriving Celtic music scene, Manx Gaelic singer Ruth Keggin and Ullapool harpist Rachel Hair, have collaborated on a stunning duo album, set for release on Friday, July 8.

The body of work is entitled Lossan - a Manx Gaelic word, with meanings including ‘light’, ‘glimmer’, ‘sheen’ and ‘flame’, and is the first ever duo harp and Manx Gaelic vocal album to be released.

Lossan celebrates the vibrancy and growth of the Manx Gaelic language and culture on the Isle of Man and the connections between the island and Scotland, whose native tongues sit within the same family of Celtic languages.

Manx’s phoenix-like story has seen it rise from the ashes from being a gravely endangered indigenous language, to enjoying an upsurge of interest that has brought into focus the importance of worldwide efforts to protect and promote endangered languages.

Together Ruth and Rachel have thoughtfully arranged traditional Manx material alongside some newly-written songs by composers on the Isle of Man, reawakening traditional Manx lullabies,much-loved ballads and traditional jigs, exploring a range of themes including humanity’s connection with the natural world.

The pair met 10 years ago during the small hours of a traditional music session on the Isle of Man and have worked alongside each other on several musical projects celebrating the coming together of Celtic nations, both on the island and beyond, ever since.

Their mutual love and respect for each other’s roots and traditions led them to first perform together as a duo in 2017.

The pandemic allowed them the time to collaborate on a recording, and despite the challenges of a 14-month Isle of Man border closure, Lossan has made its way into the light.

The album was recorded on the stage of the Erin Arts Centre in Ruth’s hometown of Port Erin.

Ruth and Rachel will return to the venue to launch the album as part of the Mananan International Festival on Monday, June 27.

Ruth said: ‘I have long loved Rachel’s music and the way she approaches playing Gaelic songs and airs with such sensitivity, so it felt like the most natural thing to work together.

‘It’s been wonderful to create a duo album - there’s something truly special about the fluid musical interplay between harp and vocals and the captivatingly-resonant space that is created between the two instruments.

‘The word ‘lossan’ has such a rich meaning and we love the idea of the word being associated with tiny particles of light in the darkness - it felt very fitting to title the album this way.

‘The word also has connections to the sea and sky and it’s these things that connect us both and are so important to our homelands.’

l LOSSAN will be available to buy on CD, stream and download on all major digital platforms on Friday, July 8.

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