Celtic Connections embraces change


CELTIC Connections have announced the line-up for their annual celebration of traditional music, which will this year have a very different look to it.

Normally a chance for fans of traditional music to flock to Glasgow, with more than 100,000 concert-goers annually. This year it will take place online due to the restrictions which prevent public gatherings.

Such a format will prevent many Irish musicians and music fans—who, along with the large Irish community in the city, have regularly enjoyed seeing Irish and Irish-inspired musicians taking to the stage in Glasgow—from travelling to the festival, but organisers hope their hard-work and inventiveness will ensure an enjoyable experience for all.

Included in the line-up are several acts with Irish musical connections, such as Eddi Reader, Aidan O’Rourke, Mànran, Declan O’Rourke and the Paul McKenna Band, and they—along with many others—will perform virtually in a new-look festival.

New format, same friendships
“Celtic Connections 2021, in its digital format, will present concerts using an online platform every night between Friday January 15-Tuesday February 2, 2021,” organisers said. “Top quality performances will be available to view online across the 19 days with some of the biggest names on the Scottish music scene and beyond appearing on screens across the world as part of the festival.”

Despite the restrictions, organisers hope to maintain the spirit of cultural exchange which characterises the festival.

“As a festival, Celtic Connections prides itself on its international relationships and year on year it extends a hand of musical friendship to artists and audiences across the world,” they said. “Organisers have ensured that, although the majority of the line-up predominantly showcases homegrown talent, a number of international acts remotely filmed are also included in the line-up so that the essence of what the festival has grown to be truly about—connections, collaborations and relationships—is still prevalent in this new-era Celtic Connections.”

Quality music
For fans of the festival, their experience this year may see them tuning in from computers and tablets, but the challenge of delivering quality music without a live audience is one that Celtic Connections have been eager to meet.

“Of course one of the hardest consequences of the Covid-19 virus for musicians this year has been the loss of live audiences in venues, so like many festivals we have had to look to an alternative way of presenting the Celtic Connections experience,” Donald Shaw, Creative Producer for Celtic Connections, said. “In a world where so much is unknown it is vitally important that as a sector, we do all we can to ensure the longevity of Scotland’s culture. Sharing our music and our arts is a vital part of our human existence, it connects us as a nation both at home and abroad.”

The newly announced line-up features some of the best down names from the Scottish traditional music scene, and will also showcase artists from across the world in its online incarnation.

“The initial line-up has been announced with some of the most well-known and best-loved acts who have traditionally graced the festival stages confirmed to take part in this digital-first event,” organisers said. “Celtic Connections prides itself on its international relations and every year it showcases artists from across the world. Organisers have ensured that a number of international acts who have filmed their performances remotely are also included in the line-up alongside a host of incredible homegrown talent.”

Speaking of the line-up for 2021, Donald Shaw continued: “It has been a challenging but exciting process pulling this year’s digital festival together. “I would like to say a huge thank you to all of the musicians who have contributed both at home and abroad, it has been brilliant to see them all get behind the concept and support our vision. We can’t wait to bring all of this great music into people’s homes this January!”

Passes, performances and projects
With the box office redundant thanks to the ongoing Cover-19 crisis, tickets for live gigs will be replaced by online passes which allow music fans to tune in from their own homes, with the initial offer giving access to the events across all 19 of the festival days. Nearer the time single event passes will be available allowing music fans to enjoy their favourites in performance, with more performances yet to be announced, and though the festival this year will be a virtual one it will feature some very familiar venues for the recordings.

“The festival is creating unique digital content from specially commissioned projects and performances filmed across many of Glasgow’s much-loved venues,” Celtic Connections explained. “In doing so the festival will support and encourage the creative industries to help protect Scotland’s rich musical legacy.

“The initial line-up has been announced with some of the most well-known and best-loved acts who have traditionally graced the festival stages confirmed to take part in this digital-first event.”

More details about how to enjoy this year’s festival can be found at www.celticconnections.com or by following the Celtic Connections social media channels.