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100 young musicians take to the stage as Celtic Connections 2019 opens

Published: 17 Jan 2019

Celtic Connections at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall - credit Gaelle Beri

World-leading annual music festival Celtic Connections kicks off tonight as over 100 young musicians from across Scotland take to the stage to officially open 18 days of music, set to bring Glasgow alive on stages across the city.

The festival’s traditional Opening Concert in the world-famous Glasgow Royal Concert Hall this year celebrates the passing on of traditions between generations. Syne of the Times will see the young musicians joined by some of the most well-respected Scottish musicians to have emerged since the festival first began in 1994.

This is a finger-on-the-pulse festival where respect for Scotland’s heritage is woven through the programme and artists are encouraged to collaborate and experiment, taking that heritage to the next level.- Alan Morrison, Head of Music

Audiences will see young musical talent from the 45 Fèisean (Scottish Gaelic Arts Youth Tuition Festivals) now held annually around Scotland, the Orcadian youth music project Hadhirgaan and Galician folk orchestra SonDeSeu. Artists including Julie Fowlis, Duncan Chisholm, Lauren MacColl, Michael McGoldrick, Donald Shaw, Aidan O’Rourke, Brighde Chaimbeul and recently crowned Trad Awards ‘Folk band of the Year’ Daimh will be among a host of other special guests and this year's Showcase Scotland international partner-country, Galicia.

It will be the first of over 300 events featuring more than 2,000 musicians from around the world, taking place in venues across Glasgow until Sunday 3 February.

The packed programme features a host of concerts including one-off musical collaborations and special commissions alongside talks, workshops, film screenings, theatre productions, ceilidhs, exhibitions, free events and late-night sessions.

A packed out Old Fruitmarket for the World Beat Bothy (Credit Alan McAteer)

Programme highlights

In a programme rich with Audio-Visual shows, highlights include the world premieres of Brave in Concert and The Bard’s Tale.

The hugely popular Disney movie Brave will be screened with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra performing the music from the film live, alongside solo performances from artists who appeared on the original soundtrack. The score was written by award winning Glasgow-born composer Patrick Doyle, who the festival will also be celebrating with a special one-off show to mark his 65th birthday.

For the first time Gaelic culture and the gaming world collide with The Bard’s Tale. Featuring the sublime voices of Kathleen MacInnes, Fiona Hunter, Eilidh Cormack, Kim Carnie and Mackenzie, Simple Minds bassist Ged Grimes, who has also composed all of the live music, will lead a stellar backing line-up of Gregor Philp, Ali Hutton, Innes White, Màiri Chaimbeul, Martin O’NeillEwen Henderson and Brian McAlpine. This show will be a virtual quest through 18th century Scotland incorporating synchronised video, gameplay, drama, and live music that was originally composed for the computer game The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep.

Experience a sonic encounter of voice, guitar, gamelan, percussion and strings in singer and composer Susheela Raman’s performance with contemporary Indonesian gamelan players, GHOST GAMELAN.  Opening will be a creative new project by Tom Bancroft that focuses on the common ground between Scottish music, jazz, Indian music and electronica.

Other World music highlights include Malian quartet Songhoy Blues and Fado star Mariza.

Born into one of West Africa’s principal griot families, multi-talented Gambian/British artist Sona Jobarteh is the first woman of such lineage to attain virtuoso status on the kora, interrupting seven centuries of exclusively male tradition. Sona will play the Queen Margaret Union over the first weekend, with 2019 marking the first year the festival will be using the West End venue.

Also taking place in the Queen Margaret Union will be Baile air Bhoil. Following previous joint promotions by Glasgow University, Ceòl ’s Craic and An Lòchran, Gaelic club night Baile air Bhoil makes its Celtic Connections debut, headlined by two of Gaelic music’s most innovative acts. Now expanded to a five piece, including Josie Duncan’s transcendent vocals, Inyal craft boldly panoramic soundscapes, alternately epic and ethereal, fusing fiddles, uilleann pipes, whistle and guitar with synth, electronics and drums. Singer and multi-instrumentalist Griogair’s current project sees him fusing original spoken-word poetry with hiphop production, also incorporating jazz, soul and African sounds. Special guests include inspirational Jamaican singer Brina, Malian percussionist and kora player Kalifa Kone and Skye DJ/producer Jamie Shaka.

Music created at song writing workshops run by Glasgow’s Vox Liminis Distant Voices organisation, which brought together Scottish musicians with people affected by criminal justice issues and featured on the 2018 album Not Known at This Address, will be performed live by co-writers Kris Drever, C Duncan, Emma Pollock, Admiral Fallow, Rachel Sermanni, Pronto Mama, Fiskur and Donna Maciocia. The Distant Voices project will also be explored in a talk and discussion.

Musicians from Celtic Connections 2019 international partner, Galicia, will perform a series of shows, and music industry delegates will attend Showcase Scotland, which provides a platform for Scottish musicians to develop their careers.

11,000 school children will learn about, enjoy and be inspired by Celtic music through a series of free morning concerts and workshops as part of the Celtic Connections Education Programme.

Quotes

Donald Shaw, Creative Producer for Celtic Connections, said: “With each new Celtic Connections we look to bring together artists, ideas and unique collaborations that create powerful and moving work that can be enjoyed by audiences and musicians alike. Each year we present a selection of the best music and musicians you can see anywhere in the world and through all this we remain true to our celtic roots – roots that began with a journey of discovery by a nation that is always searching. Celtic Connections will also once again be at its heart a celebration – a coming together of people from across the world to enjoy live music and, as always, it is that I am most looking forward to.”

Alan Morrison, Head of Music, Creative Scotland said: “Since its launch in 1994, Celtic Connections has pushed back the boundaries of Scottish culture while never losing sight of the traditions at its core. In 2019, that’s as true of the young musicians filling the opening night stage for Syne Of The Times as it is of the videogame technology behind The Bard’s Tale concert. This is a finger-on-the-pulse festival where respect for Scotland’s heritage is woven through the programme and artists are encouraged to collaborate and experiment, taking that heritage to the next level. Once again it’s time to throw our doors wide open so that musicians from near and far can come in and brighten our winter nights.”

Councillor David McDonald, Chair of Glasgow Life, said: “It’s time to banish the winter blues as we get set to embark on the incredible musical journey that is Celtic Connections. As a UNESCO City of Music Glasgow is the place to be for lovers of live music. This brilliant festival brings the best of our home grown talent and artists from across the world to stages across the city, with world leading musicianship and inspiration and shows that capture the unique spirit of Celtic Connections – a festival that unites artists and styles and cultures to create something truly new, truly special. We hope very much you can join us at Celtic Connections 2019.”

To see the full programme for Celtic Connections 2019 and buy tickets visit www.celticconnections.com.