Celtic Connections 2019: Brightening up the dark, wet nights

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From Thursday January 17 to Sunday, February 3, musicians from across the globe will take part in over 300 events in venues throughout Glasgow for the largest winter music festival of its kind and the UK’s premier celebration of Celtic music.

The 18 days of entertainment feature a mixture of concerts that include a host of one-off musical collaborations alongside talks, workshops, film screenings, theatre productions, ceilidhs, exhibitions, free events and late-night sessions.

Following last year’s 25th festival celebrations, when Celtic Connections welcomed over 2,300 artists from over 30 countries and recorded an exceptional 130,000 attendances, Celtic Connections will continue to grow and diversify in 2019.

Since the inaugural festival in 1994, when its 66 events centred around one venue and welcomed 27,000 attendees, Celtic Connections has become more adventurous, more experimental and more diverse.

The festival’s first 25 years have witnessed the emergence of a myriad of young Scottish musicians, many going on to attain headline status – and plenty who weren’t even born when the festival began!

The Celtic Connections Opening Concert will celebrate the passing on of traditions between generations, and will also mark 15 years since Harvest, 2004’s landmark opening show which teamed a battalion of then-youngsters with top Celtic soloists. The Opening Concert will welcome up to 70 emerging young talents to the stage, selected from the 45 Fèisean now held annually around Scotland, Orcadian youth music project Hadhirgaan, and Galician folk orchestra SonDeSeu.

Working with the original composers, they’ll perform newly arranged excerpts of Duncan Chisholm’s 2007 Blas Festival commission Kin, Lauren MacColl’s The Seer, commissioned by Fèis Rois, and Harvest itself, along with material by Dàimh, Aidan O’Rourke, Brighde Chaimbeul and additional Pan Celtic special guests.

As usual the festival is graced with household names including Rhiannon Giddens, Cherish the Ladies, Graham Nash, Niteworks, Elephant Sessions, Bokanté, Loudon Wainwright III, Judy Collins, Ronnie Spector & the Ronettes, Kathy Mattea, Shooglenifty and Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert.

From the World music scene Celtic Connections 2019 will welcome Moonlight Benjamin, Delgres, The Como Mamas, Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita, Mariza and Bassekou Kouyate.

Last year it was announced that the programming team would expand, and a number of ghost programmers have been involved in the artistic direction of Celtic Connections 2019.

The growth of the programming team has allowed for creative producer Donald Shaw to work on developing the festival to its fullest potential to safeguard the longevity and musical integrity of what has become such an internationally acclaimed event.

Donald said: “Every year we strive to programme the most diverse and eclectic festival yet and 2019 is shaping up to be just that.

“From artists who have influenced the current scene, to musicians who are re-defining the music of tomorrow, Celtic Connections 2019 will continue to embrace a huge range of styles and genres that showcase artists and cultures from across the world.”

Councillor David McDonald, chair of Glasgow Life, said: “Year on year Celtic Connections is a cultural highlight for Glasgow and Scotland.

“As Europe’s largest winter music festival, that recorded a phenomenal 130,000 attendances last year, we welcome audiences and artists from around the world to Glasgow during what would otherwise be a very quiet time of year.

“Celtic Connections has been brightening up dark January nights for 25 years and it really is a fantastic time to be in the city – I can’t wait for the festival to return in 2019.”

Alan Morrison, head of Music at Creative Scotland, added: “Sharing our arts and our culture is an essential part of what makes us human. In Scotland, we believe that our music is particularly strong and distinctive, and we want the world to hear it and be inspired by it.

“We also want to welcome musicians from Europe and beyond to Scotland, where we can collaborate, create exhilarating new ideas and learn from each other.

“This powerful notion of being citizens of a wider, richer world goes to the heart of Celtic Connections. In the years since it began, this festival has broadened its horizons and the musical genres it embraces. Creative Scotland is proud to support a programme that reaches out a hand of friendship to artists and audiences everywhere.”

To view the full programme, visit www.celticconnections.com.