NEW music celebrating the connections between Scotland and the Isle of Man is to be released next month.

The collaboration between Ullapool harpist Rachel Hair and Manx Gaelic singer Ruth Keggin celebrates the vibrancy and growth of the Manx Gaelic language and culture.

Lossan – a Manx Gaelic word with meanings including light, glimmer, sheen and flame – is the first duo harp and Manx Gaelic vocal album to be released.

It demonstrates how Manx has risen 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.

For the album the pair have arranged traditional Manx material alongside some newly written songs by composers on the Isle of Man, re-awakening traditional Manx lullabies, much-loved ballads and traditional jigs and exploring a range of themes, including humanity’s connection with the natural world.

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

The pandemic allowed them the time to collaborate on a recording despite the challenges of a 14-month Isle of Man border closure.

Keggin 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.

“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.”

Widely regarded as one of the world’s finest exponents of the Scottish harp or clarsach, Hair is a prominent performer on the traditional music scene and has toured extensively throughout Europe, the US and beyond. She has so far released five critically acclaimed albums.

She said: “It has been an utter joy to arrange and perform songs both old and new from the island and the album has given me the chance to hone my skills as an accompanist, exposing the raw beauty of the harp.”

“For years now I have been inspired by the culture on the Isle of Man, and its music, song and language.

“I’m so grateful to those involved in the cultural scene on the island for welcoming me.

“Both of us have enjoyed and respected each other’s music for a number of years so it felt about time we recorded together.”

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

The duo will return to the special venue to launch the album as part of the Mananan International Festival on Monday, June 27.

Lossan will be available to buy on CD, stream and download on all major digital platforms from July 8.