In 2014, with support from Creative Scotland, we commissioned John Somerville to write a new piece of music inspired by the voyage of The Hector, a ship that left Ross-shire and sailed to Canada in 1773. The story of The Hector is one of human endeavour and hardship upon the seas.
In early July 1773, 207 passengers, mainly from Lochbroom in Wester Ross, boarded the ship in the small Scottish village of Ullapool. The ship, in the end carrying only 189 passengers, finally came to port in the town of Pictou, Nova Scotia in mid-September. The landing was several weeks later than planned. The journey between the two ports was one of great drama, hardship and suffering, but the passengers had remarkable strength of spirit and optimism for their future.
John Somerville hails from Abriachan near Loch Ness. Having progressed through Fèis Rois as a learner, supervisor and tutor, John has gone on to become one of the top accordion players in Scotland. He is known for his versatile and innovative style whilst staying true to his Highland roots. As a composer, he has written for the many bands, groups and acts he has worked with, including Treacherous Orchestra, Halcyon, Croft Number Five, Rule of Three, Box Club and The Arches Theatre Company.
The Voyage of The Hector suite has been performed at Blas Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Celtic Connections, Celtic Colours in Canada and the National Celtic Festival, Australia.