THE ILEACH :: THE INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER FOR ISLAY + JURA
scottish opera

A scene from Scottish Opera's Touring Group performance in Bowmore Hall on Thursday 13 February. See review below.

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In the current issue

Parent Council calls for urgent action on IHS repairs, Bowmore Post Office re-opens after two week closure, Concerns over coastal erosion affecting Islay airport runway, New library for Port Charlotte primary, Keeping the lights on: SSEN on repairs to the undersea cable, Calum Murray interviews the Laird of Lagavulin.


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Excerpts from issue 47/09 15 February 2020

A night at the Opera

brian palmer writes:

We are in a garden, having been invited to a party, the host of which remains, for the time being at least, a mystery. There are two chaps and two girls: her fancies he, but he fancies she. Unfortunately, she is with him, and rebuffs all advances from he, however she agrees to a deception that will involve her meeting he, under the guise of being she. Meanwhile, him looks on with jealousy and bananas at what him thinks is she, deceiving him.

The ideal plot for an opera.

A highly appreciative audience filled Bowmore village hall, on the night before St. Valentine's Day, and were treated to a superb performance by Scottish Opera's Touring Group. Concertgoers were regaled with aptly chosen arias, quartets and duets from operas by Mozart, Donizetti, Delibes, Britten and a host of others, cleverly and appropriately selected by Scottish Opera's Head of Music, Derek Clark. Sung and performed by soprano, Zoe Drummond, mezzo-soprano, Jade Moffat, baritone, Arthur Bruce, and tenor, Andrew Irwin, the evening's operetta followed all the twists and turns you'd expect from a more grandiose production, and (spoiler alert), eventually they all lived happily ever.

Pianist, Michael Papadopoulis, followed each diverse direction of the sung narrative with consummate ease, easily fulfilling an orchestral role with aplomb, always accompanying and never dominating.

I have oft recited my contention that the simplest means of ending any conversation, is to bring up the subject of either opera or jazz. With regard to the former, this is based predominantly on the perceived excesses of performance and the possible misapprehension, that it is uncomfortably high-brow. Thursday evening's entertainment, if nothing else, proved the exception to the mostly incorrect rule, featuring both levity and brevity in equal measure. The power of the operatic voice also demonstrated the superb acoustic of a hall that has undoubtedly seen better days.

The demonstrably noisy request for an encore from the audience was met with vigour, the performers having already deftly and silently removed much of the staging during the final quartet from Aaron Copland's 'The Tender land'. These choreographed moves no doubt assisted with preparations for their Friday departure to Arrochar, the sixth stage of a 17 concert tour, ending in Rutherglen on 14 March. In view of storm Ciara having just departed and Dennis on his way, Scottish Opera are to be congratulated for travelling to an island on which they may well have found themselves temporary residents well into the following week.

If at least one of the reasons for touring in this fashion was to encourage future attendance at 'complete' operas on the mainland, rest-assured, I'm already checking their programme for 2020.

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Keeping the lights on
bowmore power station

Islanders will be aware that, because of troubles with the electric supply from the mainland, power has been supplied to households thanks to the diesel-fuelled generator at the power station in Bowmore.

This is a temporary solution and work is continuing to address the fault.

A spokesperson from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, said, "Following a recent fault affecting the submarine electricity distribution cable connecting Jura to the Scottish mainland, SSEN can confirm it is progressing a project to fully replace the cable between Jura and Carsaig Bay.

"We have received the necessary permissions from statutory authorities to carry out these essential works and a specialist marine vessel is currently in Oban awaiting a suitable weather window to commence the subsea cable installation. We remain committed to returning the network to normal operation as soon as possible. Subject to suitable weather and tidal conditions, we expect the new cable to be operational by the end of February.

"The ongoing security of supply to the islands remains our priority and contingency measures are in place, including the operation of the backup power station in Bowmore and renewable generation on Islay and Jura, to ensure a continued safe and secure supply of electricity to customers on Islay, Jura and Colonsay."

In his piece in our centre pages, George Dean said, "We must have a robust and resilient grid, based on some sort of ring main connecting all the islands and the mainland, including any new offshore tidal or wind projects. Using diesel generation as a back-up cannot be the long-term answer."

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Airport runway erosion concern

Coastal erosion at Laggan Bay may effect the runways at Islay Airport.

A Scottish study of erosion along the whole of Scotland's coastline has revealed some disturbing results. On Islay, erosion was identified on two sites: Laggan Bay and Killinallan Point.

According to the report, 2 km of Killinallan Point has undergone erosion rates of up to 30 metres (although this reaches a maximum of 200m at the point itself, due to changes in the ebb channels of Loch Gruinart).

They say that because the entire dune system has no built assets, the erosion here has, and will, progress in an unrestricted way. This erosion will be of interest to conservationists, because the shoreline here makes up part of the Gruinart Flats, Islay Special Protection Area and Gruinart Flats Site of Special Scientific Interest.

More disturbing, however, is the erosion at Laggan Bay, particular adjacent to the airport.

To quote from the report: The entire 7km of Laggan Bay has been subject to erosion of up 74 metres between 1979 and 2014, the most affected section being mid-bay near the end of the airport runways. The rates of erosion are less in places, particularly at the north and south extremities of the beach. In the north, the beach is backed by an extensive dune system and in the south by a golf course.

The central two kilometres front the Islay airport, whose main runway and two disused runways approach the shore. The end of the main runway lies 80m from MHWS and 50m from the coastal dune edge. The shoreline makes up part of the Laggan, Islay Special Protection Area and Laggan Peninsula and Bay Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The report also addressed the issue of future vulnerability.

"The Vulnerability Assessment anticipates that a further 88m of land will be directly impacted by erosion by 2050, with the biggest impact being across the central part of the bay. The erosion vicinity may add a further 70m to these inland extents. Although the main operational runway lies within this 88m footprint then there is a potential concern focused on the western extent of the runway, should erosion continue at its past rate or accelerate into the future. Eastward extension of the runway would be a strategic option for the future, rather than shore protection that may serve to accelerate erosion on adjacent stretches of beach."

Dynamic Coast's Principal Investigator, the University of Glasgow's Professor Jim Hansom, said,"We are now facing decades of future sea level rise and increasing erosion and flooding at the coast, so we need to better understand the increased risk posed by climate change to coastal assets and communities.

We need to know whether to adapt, defend or move those coastal assets. Failure to act now will lead to enhanced costs and impacts later."

The question on Islay is how best to ensure that the island has a viable airport in the future.

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NEXT ISSUE ON SALE, Saturday 29 February 2020

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islay info

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Islay Diary 2020

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  • Sunday 16 February
  • Country Dancing. ICCI, Bowmore
  • Tuesday 18 February
  • Bowmore Baptist Church, Stay & Play
  • Chit Chat Strollers, Machrie Hotel
  • Wednesday 19 February
  • Internet Safety, Bowmore Primary School
  • Thursday 20 February
  • SID AGM, Upper Ramsay Hall
  • Sunday 23 February
  • Country Dancing. ICCI, Bowmore
  • Tuesday 25 February
  • Gaelic Talk, INHT, Port Charlotte
  • Chit Chat Strollers, Bridgend Woods
  • Thursday 27 February
  • Islay Heritage AGM, ICCI, Bowmore
  • Sunday 1 March
  • Country Dancing. ICCI, Bowmore
  • Saturday 25 July
  • Port Ellen Sports Day
  • Sunday 2 August
  • Ride of the Falling Rain
  • Thursday 27 August
  • Islay Book Festival
  • Friday 28 August
  • Islay Book Festival
  • Saturday 29 August
  • Islay Book Festival
  • Sunday 30 August
  • Islay Book Festival

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