Acclaimed music festival Celtic Connections begins this Thursday, January 17, 2019. The eclectic Celtic and world music event will feature around 100 young musicians from across Scotland and Showcase Scotland partner-country Galicia (Spain) taking to the stage of the Main Auditorium at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, together with some of the utmost well-respected Scottish musicians to have emerged since the festival first began in 1994.
Syne of the Times will star 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 set of other special guests performing as part of the Celtic Connections Opening Concert for 2019. This very special show will celebrate the passing on of the tradition through generations.
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, February 3rd.
The packed program features a host of concerts including one-off musical collaborations and special commissions alongside talks, workshops, film screenings, theater productions, ceilidhs, exhibitions, free events and late-night sessions.
In a program rich with Audio-Visual shows, highlights include the world premieres of Brave in Concert and The Bard’s Tale.
The immensely 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 uplifting 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’Neill, Ewen Henderson and Brian McAlpine. This show will be a virtual quest through 18th century Scotland incorporating synchronized 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 organization, 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.
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.”
Councillor David McDonald, Chair of Glasgow Life, stated: “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.”
Alan Morrison, Head of Music, Creative Scotland expressed: “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 program 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.”
To see the full program for Celtic Connections 2019 and buy tickets visit: www.celticconnections.com
Headline photo: Folk band of the Year Daimh