Students of the present, and potentially the future, will have an important role to play when the new University of the Highlands and Islands holds an historic celebration event in Inverness on Thursday. (25 August)
Traditional music especially composed and recorded for the occasion by music students from the Benbecula campus of Lews Castle College UHI, one of the university’s 13 partners across the region, will be played at the academic robing ceremony at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness.
The music – “A Proud Day” by Loriana Pauli; “UHI Wolf” by Alex Catterall (the wolf symbolises learning and wisdom), and “Rainbows over Benbecula” by Peter Cooper – is inspired by the traditional music of the region.
Course leader Anna-Wendy Stevenson said: “Composers through the ages have written music for auspicious events and this one is no exception. These compositions are essentially traditional in form, employ the modes of the Highland pipe scale, and have been developed and arranged for traditional Scottish instruments and brass. The inclusion of brass heightens the sense of celebration and occasion and it is wonderful to hear the fusion of traditional and brass tones. The pieces were performed and recorded by students and staff with guest trombonist Rick Taylor.”
UHI graduate and Mod gold medallist Liondsaidh Mitchell, who achieved an honours degree in Gaelic and traditional music through the Skye college Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, will sing during the event, while students across the region will be featured in their own film about life at Scotland’s newest university.
And five possible students of the future will take turns to welcome around 800 guests in the English, Gaelic, Scots, Shetlandic and Orcadian languages.
The welcomes are being delivered in: English – by Thomas Black, 7, Crown Primary School, Inverness; Gaelic – by Mary MacVicar, 11, Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Inbhir Nis, Inverness; Scots – by India Hay, 11, Milnes High School, Fochabers; Shetlandic – by Rona Learmonth, 10, Scalloway Junior High School, Shetland, and Orcadian – by Joe Sinclair, 10, Orphir Community School, Orkney.
Nathan Shields, a graduate of the Perth College UHI-based music performance degree, will be taking part in the ceremony as the president of UHISA, the University of the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association. He will start the proceedings by robing the UHI rector, Garry Coutts.
Ceremonial robes featuring the UHI colour of purple will also be presented to principal and vice-chancellor James Fraser; the chair of the governing University Court, Professor Matthew MacIver, and mace bearer for the day, Allan Bransbury, who was assistant director of the former University of the Highlands and Islands Project.
The ceremony will see also the presentation of the university’s new mace, gifted by the universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Strathclyde, and the reading of a poem written for the occasion by academic and poet Dr Meg Bateman who lectures at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI.
After the ceremony, an 85-strong procession will make its way to the Town House for a civic reception. The procession will involve senior staff, principals, deans, professors and other academics, and vice-chancellors from other universities, headed by the Royal British Legion Scotland Inverness Pipes and Drums.
The mace – designed by past and present students of the Edinburgh College of Art – will take pride of place at the front of the procession, carried by Mr Bransbury.
A major highlight of the day is expected to be a flypast by RAF Lossiemouth jets as the procession makes its way to the Town House. This will be the climax of a flypast of all the university campuses throughout the region – a symbol of the collegiate nature of the university.
Guests from Scotland’s universities, local authorities, the Scottish Government, the university’s academic partners, the education sector, and the business sector, will join church leaders, Lord Lieutenants, and people who have made a significant contribution to the university’s creation, at the event.
James Fraser, UHI principal and vice-chancellor, said: “This will be a historic day for the people of the Highlands and Islands. The founding of the university is a momentous achievement and one of which we can be justifiably proud. We are delighted to involve past, present and, potentially, future students in what will be a magnificent ceremony and procession. We are honoured to share the day with our guests, especially those who have helped to bring the university into existence.
“The flypast will be an undoubted highlight of the day – a great privilege for us and especially significant since the jets are based at RAF Lossiemouth which, like our university, is a proud and important part of the regional community and its economy.”
Events on Thursday, 25th August, start with the robing ceremony at 4.30pm. The procession is due to set off from Eden Court at 6.35pm and is due to arrive at the Town House, via Ness Bridge, by 7pm. The flypast is due at 6.47pm.
In addition to Thursday’s event, each UHI partner will be celebrating its role in the new university at its graduation ceremony taking place over the next two months. These ceremonies will mark the first degrees awarded by UHI as the University of the Highlands and Islands.
UHI was granted university title by the Privy Council in February this year. It now has over 8000 students, located and studying throughout a partnership comprising: Argyll College UHI; Highland Theological College UHI, Dingwall; Inverness College UHI; Lews Castle College UHI, Lewis; Moray College UHI; NAFC Marine Centre UHI, Shetland; North Highland College UHI, Thurso; Orkney College UHI; Perth College UHI; Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, Skye; Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI, near Oban; Shetland College UHI, and West Highland College UHI.