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10 January, 2020

New ocean-inspired music to mark Year of Coasts and Waters

New ocean-inspired music to mark Year of Coasts and Waters: (c) Ingrid Henderson

Scotland’s unique marine environment will be celebrated in a special performance at Celtic Connections to mark the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has commissioned acclaimed traditional musician Ingrid Henderson to create Message in a Bottle, a new musical composition inspired by the movements of ocean currents.

The audio-visual performance with music, song, Gaelic language, film and animation blends together Ingrid’s creative talent and inspiration with SNH’s wealth of scientific knowledge and research.

The piece takes as its starting point the true story of a message in a bottle placed in the sea by a young boy from Armagh in 2008 and washed up on Canna ten years later.

It grows to explore the incredible journeys of marine wildlife and seabirds, our dependence on the seas over time and the exchanges of language and culture around our coast, while highlighting the impact of climate change on the world’s oceans. 

Message in a Bottle will premiere at Celtic Connections’ Coastal Connections day on Saturday, January 18th before touring festivals around Scotland.

Ingrid said: “I’m delighted to be working with SNH to help celebrate the Year of Coasts and Waters with this special composition.

“Growing up in the west coast fishing port of Mallaig, the themes of the year and the piece are very close to my heart. The connection of communities to the sea was all around me when I was younger - the gain from booming industries but also the loss both in terms of people and also environmentally.

“The influence of the sea is also so prevalent in the songs and music of the Highland and Islands, with stores of love and loss, great voyages and tragedy.”

The commission is one of several special SNH events and projects to celebrate our coasts and waters and their wildlife during the themed year and raise awareness of the importance of healthy oceans.

Becky Shaw, SNH Rural Development Adviser, said: “We’re thrilled to be collaborating with Ingrid for this special performance which is sure to be a highlight of the Celtic Connections Coastal Connections day.

“There have long been strong links between traditional music, Gaelic language and Scotland’s marine environment and through music and song we hope this piece will help bring our seas and their wildlife to life for many more people.

“There is so much to celebrate about our coastlines and waterways and we are looking forward to encouraging and inspiring people to explore and enjoy them as much as possible throughout the Year of Coasts and Waters.”

Message in a Bottle also features musicians Anna Massie, Megan Henderson and Conal McDonagh with visuals from Somhairle MacDonald and animation from Cat Bruce.

For more information and event tickets, see:


Media enquiries: Contact the SNH press office on 0131 316 2655 or

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NatureScot is Scotland's nature agency. We work to enhance our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. Our priority is a nature-rich future for Scotland and an effective response to the climate emergency. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

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(c) Ingrid Henderson

(c) Ingrid Henderson

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