The ICTM Ireland Conference took place in NUI Maynooth this year and Adèle and I prepared a paper on our tour to Scotland last summer, specifically about Speyfest and our experience of Scottish musical culture in the form of a somewhat unique festival.
We travelled with seven students in July 2016 to Glasgow where we performed for the International Society for Music Education Conference at the National Piping Centre. Having engaged with the displays and some other performances there, we travelled on to Aberdeen and then Fochabers where we were warmly welcomed by John Mehigan and James Alexander.
We had a fantastic few days at the festival where we not only played on the main stage but also held a céilí and taught workshops. We had good fun with the other acts including MecLir and Sharon Shannon and her band. Our paper for the ICTM Ireland Conference presented some ethnographic reflections on our experience and began to critically question the role of a festival such as Speyfest in the musical ecology of a place such as Fochabers. The paper got a good response from those present on a day when a great variety of presenters came from around the world to speak about music in various contexts. There was also an interesting roundtable from Aibhlín McCrann (Cruit Éireann), Grace Toland (Irish Traditional Music Archive), Terry Moylan (Na Píobairí Uilleann) and Antaine Ó Faracháin (Sean nós Cois Life). Fintan Vallely provided some response to this. Later, ethnomusicologist Jeff Todd Titon joined us via Skype for an interesting keynote paper.
Having developed our presentation for this conference, we are looking forward to writing up further critique on our experience and it has encouraged us to consider further trips to Fochabers to experience more of the culture there and the hospitality of the local community.