One of the highlights of the Scottish music calendar, Celtic Connections, returns on Thursday 17th January for another bumper festival taking in over 300 events in the space of just over two weeks which features more than 2,000 musicians from around the world, maintaining the diversity it has become renowned for.
This year’s opening concert, Syne Of The Times, which takes place in the Main Auditorium of the Royal Concert Hall showcases young musical talent from the 45 Fèisean (Scottish Gaelic Arts Youth Tuition Festivals) 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.
From then on, it is a packed programme of more varied events than ever before. Main highlights include the world premieres of Brave in Concert and The Bard’s Tale. The former sees 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 latter incorporates Gaelic culture and the gaming world. Featuring the sublime voices of Kathleen MacInnes, Fiona Hunter, Eilidh Cormack, Kim Carnie and Mackenzie and Simple Minds bassist Ged Grimes, who will lead a stellar backing line-up of Gregor Philp, Ali Hutton, Innes White, Màiri Chaimbeul, Martin O’Neill, Ewen Henderson and Brian McAlpine. This show is 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.
If more traditional concerts are more your bag, then there is no shortage of shows to suit any musical persuasion. The festival has added new venues which are either used for the very first time or making a welcome return after an absence from previous years. The Queen Margaret Union (QMU) is being utilised for the very first time and the likes of Songhoy Blues, Seth Lakeman and up-and-comers Tom McGuire & The Brassholes take to the stage in its first year of performances. Music at King Tuts returns and is the new home for festival staple Hazy Recollections, hosted by Findlay Napier, following the sad destruction of its previous residence the much-missed ABC. The talent on show is as strong as ever, with the likes of former Kassidy frontman Barrie-James O’Neill, Megan Airlie and Flew The Arrow amongst the lineup over the two editions this year.
Other highlights across the festival include Graham Nash delivering a set of songs and stories from his distinguished career, Loudon Wainwright who will perform a greatest hits set from his massive back catalogue and Grace & Danger: A Celebration of John Martyn which features the likes of Paul Weller, Eddi Reader and Blue Rose Code all paying tribute to the legendary Scottish singer-songwriter.
Once again, there is a myriad of talent on show at Celtic Connections, whether it be the traditional big names like Karine Polwart, modern alternative legends like John Grant, indie stalwarts The Dandy Warhols, new talent like Zoe Graham or the tried and tested festival favourites on the Transatlantic Sessions, there really is something for everyone.
Celtic Connections runs from Thursday 17th January to Sunday 3rd February across various venues in Glasgow. For more information on the festival, including the full lineup and to purchase tickets, go to www.celticconnections.com.
Stay tuned to Glasgow Music over the coming weeks for reviews and coverage from the festival.