The Jura Project

A Halloween toast

We’re on the isle of Jura all this week, working on an online music project. Whyte and Mackay have commissioned Clutch to be a composer-in-residence on the island, and we’re staying in the Jura lodge, which is right next to the distillery.

The Jura Project is a process of composition and recording on the island to raise awareness and money for the direct ferry from the island to the mainland, which is under threat from subsidy cuts.

And, in fact, while we’ve been here, this has been underlined by the fact that the other ferry that connects Jura to the outside world has completely broken down. In its place, a small passenger boat is taking people to and from Islay, but cars can’t get across – and, more importantly, supplies are completely cut off.

The distillery has stopped mashing, and the stills will be shut off by Friday at the current rate. That’s potentially an enormous loss to the distillery’s production, and a crippling blow to what is already a delicately balanced island economy.

With that backdrop, Clutch has been working with the islanders as well as with some of the features of the island itself to create music that will be released online as a fundraiser. My job has been to capture that process and present it online at

Some of my highlights so far have included a visit to the local primary school to talk about generative music composition, and how the children themselves can become part of the music; a Halloween party in the Jura Hotel; meeting resident flautist Sheena Amos, and getting her involved in the project; a scenic drive to the top of the island, and discovering that the lodge is haunted.

We’re here until the end of the week, and intend to have a playback in the hall of the finished (or nearly finished) composition.

Follow the project here.

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