Widely credited with being the major force in bringing traditional Celtic music to the world stage and inspiring the great resurgence so evident today, it is almost four decades since Capercaillie first performed as teenagers in their native Scottish Highlands. As they continue the worldwide musical journey that’s taken them from the Brazilian rainforest to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon - not to mention into the UK Top 40 pop charts – it is still the ancient Gaelic culture of their homelands that inspires them most.

Their role as pioneers of Scotland’s Gaelic song revival, thanks to Karen Matheson’s sublime vocals, and the store of songs passed down from her Barra grandmother, has inspired myriad successors, while their innovative, outward-looking approach to arrangements and instrumentation has been hugely influential in today’s ongoing Scottish folk renaissance.

A seminal presence in contemporary Celtic music, the band are revered for their many ground-breaking achievements - including performances in over 30 countries, and over a million album sales - and beloved as a thrilling live act.

With just a handful of appearances in Orkney since their debut in 1986, at the fourth Orkney Folk Festival, it has now been over 20 years since Capercaillie last visited the county. They are set to return in an unprecedented collaboration with a local community orchestra.

Capercaillie’s long-established line-up of Matheson, Donald Shaw (accordion), Charlie McKerron (fiddle), Ewen Vernal (bass), Manus Lunny (bouzouki) and David Robertson (percussion) will join with James Mackintosh (drums) and Fraser Fifield (whistles and pipes) in taking to the stage flanked by a bespoke orchestra, with local high school students joined by members of the Orkney Camerata and the Kirkwall Town Band. 

Featuring brand new orchestrations by Greg Lawson (who will also conduct the orchestra) and Donald Shaw, the set-list will span Capercaillie’s entire back-catalogue - from their debut album Cascade, released in 1984, to their latest, 2013’s At the Heart of It All, and featuring the first Gaelic Top 40 single, Coisich, a Ruin. The one-off performance will take place in Kirkwall’s Pickaquoy Centre arena, on Friday 26 May.