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Celtic Connections showcases North talent in one of its 'biggest-ever' festivals

By Margaret Chrystall

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Celtic Connections 2024 will stage more than 300 events across 18 days in 25 venues across Glasgow.

A special anniversary celebration for Blazin' Fiddles.
A special anniversary celebration for Blazin' Fiddles.

This year, the festival which includes folk, roots and world music will run from Thursday, January 18 to Sunday, February 4. Tickets go on sale at 10am on Wednesday, October 11 HERE.

Celtic Connections has continued to expand over its 30-year history. This year will see the festival stage an ambitious programme of performances spanning acoustic, traditional, indie, Americana, Jazz, blues, orchestral, experimental and more.

Like the anticipated 110,000 people set to be there, musicians from all corners of the globe, including North America, West Africa, India, Australia will bring their music to Glasgow, alongside musicians from all over Scotland.

From closer to home, one of Scotland’s most loved folk groups, Blazin’ Fiddles will celebrate their 25th year on the road at The Pavilion Theatre.

The Celtic Connections opening concert at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall will stage the European premiere of ATTENTION!, the new symphonic work from American Grammy winner Chris Thile­ – referred to by Billboard magazine as “the best mandolin player in the world”. Another world-leading instrumentalist, American double bassist and composer Edgar Meyer, will also cross the Atlantic for another live European premiere alongside trailblazing string group the Scottish Ensemble. Meyer will perform his Concertino for strings and double bass.

A hundred years since the death of Scottish revolutionary socialist John MacLean, a centenary concert will see a glittering cast come together to recognise the significance of the Red Clydeside era. Music, poetry and reflections on John’s life, his legacy and the movement that he stood for will be led by musicians including Karine Polwart, Eddi Reader, Billy Bragg and Siobhan Miller.

Angélique Kidjo – a four-time Grammy Award winner and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador – will celebrate 40 years in music.

Award-winning Kyiv world music quartet DakhaBrakha, which translates to “give/take” in old Ukrainian, will play The Pavilion Theatre.

Scotland’s traditional music scene is represented by Dallahan, RANT, Breabach, Mec Lir, Heisk, Session A9 and The Canny Band alongside emerging artists Beth Malcolm, TRIP, Lauren Collier, Tarran and Amy Laurenson.

A special international collaboration will come in the form of Citadels Of The Sun. Presented with Jodhpur Rajasthan International Folk Festival, Irish and Rajasthani musicians will come together.

Transatlantic talent at the festival also includes country royalty with Carlene Carter (daughter of June Carter Cash), 15-time Grammy Award winner and banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck, singer-songwriter and virtuoso pianist Bruce Hornsby plus Celtic Connections favourites Sarah Jarosz, Teddy Thompson, The Milk Carton Kids, Tommy Emmanuel, Darlingside and bluegrass star Tim O’Brien, who will revisit his seminal album The Crossing alongside Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker and John Doyle.

Orcadian folk quartet FARA will be joined on stage by artists from the Caribbean, Middle East, Mali and Quebec for a special international showcase with new arrangements for the occasion played by Scotland’s brand-new string ensemble Thirteen North.

On what will be the 50th anniversary since the Scottish Chamber Orchestra formed, they will host guest performances from Scotland’s Paul Buchanan (The Blue Nile), American singer Aoife O’Donovan (performing her new work exploring the women’s suffrage movement and passing of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution), visionary Scots folk band Lau and harpist and composer Maeve Gilchrist.

Scottish singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean will mark five decades of music with a special show entitled Songmaker 2024 – Celebrating 50 Years of Music.

Roddy Hart’s Roaming Roots Revue is back for its 12th year to present Songs of Modern Scotland. This concert will, for the first time in its history, celebrate the great Scottish Songbook.

Scottish Celtic outfits RURA and Talisk will headline shows at the Barrowland Ballroom, and both Skerryvore and Skipinnish will play their own nights.

The Kinnaris Quintet will play their biggest Celtic Connections headline show to date at The Old Fruitmarket with special guests including Julie Fowlis and Karine Polwart.

Skye’s electro-trad duo Valtos will bring a star-studded line-up of musical friends celebrating Gaelic song and beats to their show at SWG3.

The New Voices strand – which each year allows a trio of emerging Scottish artists to embark on a new musical commission – this year champions the young voices of Ross-shire's whistle and bagpiper Ali Levack (Project Smok and BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2022, celebrated cellist Alice Allen, and talented young Highland fiddler Charlie Grey (Westward The Light).

Showcase Scotland – all about international collaboration – will this year partner with Norway to showcase Scandinavian talent, while other festival favourites including Transatlantic Sessions will return too.

Festival-goers can also look forward to the usual mix of screenings, workshops, dementia-friendly concerts, late night sessions and pop-up performances at the Festival Club, as well as a thriving education programme that will benefit thousands of children across Glasgow.

Donald Shaw, creative producer for Celtic Connections, said: “It’s that time of year where we lift the lid on the incredible shows and events we have in the works for Celtic Connections.

“I’m very excited that our 2024 edition will welcome a huge portion of international talent back to our stages, particularly our transatlantic cousins in America, and that we will be back to staging one of our biggest-ever capacity festivals.”

Creative Scotland head of music, Alan Morrison said: “The 2024 Celtic Connections programme puts Scotland at the heart of a musical map of the world. This is arguably the festival’s strongest-ever international line-up, opening our ears to the inspirational sounds of artists from so many different countries and cultures. Running through it all, of course, is Scotland’s own musical lifeblood, the traditional tunes and contemporary twists that continue to thrill audiences and brighten up our winter days and nights.”

The programme can be viewed in full and tickets bought HERE.

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