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Arts ahead: Celtic Connections

DONALD SHAW, the festival’s creative producer, picks some of the highlights of a great programme of music which starts this weekend in Glasgow

THE GRIT Orchestra: The Declaration (Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, January 18). This opening-night event just shows what a fantastic point Celtic Connections has reached, where musicians transcend genre and educational parameters. Here we have some outstanding orchestral, jazz and traditional musicians composing for each other.

BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of The Year 20th Celebration  (Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, January 23). This celebratory concert shows the remarkable journey traditional music has taken in the last 20 years; these musicians are part of the great renaissance of our culture.

Nitin Sawhney (Old Fruitmarket, January 28). Distinctive and versatile, Nitin is one of the world’s greatest musicians. This is his first time at the festival and he’ll be performing the biggest hits from across his extensive career.

Tessa Lark, Phamie Gow and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra: Sky and Lammermuir (Glasgow Royal Concert Hall,  January 30). Tessa Lark is a world-class musician exploring the cross-over of orchestral and bluegrass, while Phamie is reimagining her Celtic Connections commission from 20 years ago. The combination of these talents alongside our National Orchestra is not to be missed.

Anais Mitchell and Bonny Light Horseman (Old Fruitmarket , January 29). Anais returns to Celtic Connections with her opera Hadestown, which had its European premiere at the festival nine years ago. She is at the forefront of folk-influenced Indie lo-fi Americana scene and will be showcasing her new super-trio line-up Bonny Light Horseman, in collaboration with Josh Kaufman (The National) and Eric D Johnson (Fruit Bats).

Michael McGoldrick: Fused 20th + Dochas (Old Fruitmarket, January 24). Michael McGoldrick is revered by musicians from every scene, he’s as happy playing the pure form of ancient jigs and reels as he is on world tours with Mark Knopfler. His exceptional flute “tone” is his unique voice. This concert celebrates one of folk music’s seminal albums, Fused, a mix-up of trad, hip-hop, samples and jazz that broke the mould. Support comes from Dochas, a band who are the epitome of Gaelic traditional music and song.

Anniversary Celebration Concerts (various venues). Skerryvore (January 18) and Breabach (January 17) are celebrating 15 years, while Manran (January 24) and RURA (February 2) are celebrating 10 years and Salsa Celtica (February 1) an incredible 25 years.

Frigg and Imar (City Hall, February 1). Frigg are one of our guest country Finland best exports and, like Imar they are vibrant, powerful and inventive. Imar are a great example of the melting pot of the Glasgow trad scene – five musicians from very different backgrounds and birth places coming together to produce their distinctive sound.

Valerie Ekoume and Ayman Jarjour (Drygate Brewery, January 18). A previous member of Manu Dibango’s Soul Makossa Gang, Valerie believes Love is King and expresses this through Afropop – hugely influenced by her Cameroonian roots and early role models Miriam Makeba and Whitney Houston.

Return To Y’Hup’: The World Of Ivor Cutler (Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, January 29). This event celebrates the work of Ivor Cutler with an all-star line-up including Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch, Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite, Karine Polwart, Emma Pollock and many more. It’s another great example of Celtic Connections’s open approach to unique events with cross-fertilisation of folk and indie.

Full programme and booking: celticconnections.com

 

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