Sunday, April 27, 2014

celtic connections: seeing music

Celtic Connections, a celebration of music held in Glasgow, Scotland every January, is one of the world’s great music festivals. Artists from across the realm of Celtic connection come to share their music. One of the great things about such festivals is the chance to be present with the musicians and the music, to be part of that connection which occurs when music is shared in person.

At Celtic Connections, that connection is fostered in places ranging from the main concert hall -- which despite being, as you might think, a large place, still offers and air of welcome and intimacy -- to the church turned pub that is Oran Mor. From the down home feeling at the National Piping Centre to the elegance of City Halls, from the Old Fruitmarket -- which is actually that, it did used to be a fruit market -- to the classic and classy Georgian former church that is Saint Andrews in the Square and at many sites between, music finds its place in Glasgow in January.

Here is a bit of what that looked like this year.

American songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman, who has been spending time in Scotland working on her music lately, invited Scottish singer Julie Fowlis, on the left in this photograph, to join in with her for a song during opening night festivities

This year, as Celtic Connections was turning twenty one, the band Capercaillie was marking thirty years since high school friends Donald Shaw and Karen Matheson started the band off in Oban, and they were also celebrating the release of their album At the Heart of It All with a concert at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

You’ll most often find Nicola Benedetti and her violin sharing stage with orchestras and chamber musicians, but on this might the native Scot and home town favorite (she is from nearby Ayrshire) joined up with folk artists Aly Bain, Phil Cunningham, Julie Fowlis and others for tunes and songs and stories from a project they’ve been working on which will be Benedetti’s next recording. It’s meant to be released this summer.

Karen Matheson and Michael McGoldrick of Capercaillie

Over at the National Piping Centre, Irishman Eamonn Coyne and Kris Drever, from Orkney, offered a warm, intimate set of tunes and songs and lively bits of banter too, featuring music from their latest collaboration, an album called Story Map

At the Old Fruitmarket, a creative joining of musical talents found Parween Khan as the opening act, with music from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland following on. Parween is from Rajahstan, where she is carrying on ancient tradition of song called maanda, which might sound a bit like sean nos to those familiar with that Celtic style.

The following act was Rant fiddles, four women whose energy and creativity speak of musical connections from the Highlands to the Black Isle to the Nordic influenced style of Shetland. That Highland flavour comes from Sarah-Jane Summers, who is pictured above. Julie Fowlis closed the evening, introducing her new album of songs in Scottish Gaelic, Every Story.

Photographs are by Kerry Dexter and were made with permission of the artists, the festival, and the venues involved. They are copyrighted. Thank you for respecting this.

You may also wish to see
Collaborations: Music from the Heart
Celtic Connections 2014: reflections, part one

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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