Billed as Europe’s premier winter music festival, Celtic Connections opened in Glasgow on 20th January, with an uplifting display from some of folk’s brightest emerging talent. The full Celtic Connections programme promises a vibrant mix of lively in-person concerts, intimate-scale filmed sessions, an exciting digital programme and a number of talks and exhibitions, in all involving more than 500 artists through to 6th February. Tickets for live in-person shows are on sale, alongside online festival passes, giving audiences from around the world access to more than 12 hours of exclusive performances, available from Wednesday 26th January.
Online highlights are almost too numerous to choose, but special mention must go to two specially-commissioned Shetland 550 shows, filmed for the online programme, and marking 550 years since the islands became part of Scotland – Norn Voices and A Peerie Foy form part of the festival’s Whisper the Song contribution to Scotland’s Year of Stories. Added to this is Saturday 22nd Jan’s Viking torch-lit march. The show New Tradition: Rejuvenation will showcase young emerging artists, led by musical director Rory Matheson, and a New Voices commission from singer-songwriter Jack Badcock will also be available to enjoy as part of the pass.
Live music in front of in-person audiences begins in earnest from Monday 24th Jan, at large and small venues across Glasgow, with the customary array of traditional folk, roots, Americana, jazz, indie, soul and world music. Highlights include the renowned British-Indian sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra at the city’s Royal Concert Hall, in an evening focusing on the ancient Sufi devotional tradition of qawwali, with modern orchestral arrangements.
Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022 will spotlight, celebrate and promote the wealth of stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland, and is the theme of The Scottish World, featuring writer, performer and broadcaster Billy Kay and singers Siobhan Miller and Robyn Stapleton: they look at how tales of Scotland travelled with and were reimagined by the Diaspora, while Sing Me a Story will champion the storytelling tradition of the Gàidhealtachd.
Grammy-nominated, Brooklyn-based Pakistani composer, songwriter and vocalist Arooj Aftab – who comes endorsed by Barrack Obama – will bring her critically-acclaimed sound to the Mackintosh Church, and sparks are set to fly when the mighty RURA play The Theatre Royal.
Maverick musical duo Nae Plans – fiddler Adam Sutherland and pianist/flautist/singer Hamish Napier – will perform as part of the festival’s Tradovation strand, and multi-award-winning Scottish pianist Fergus McCreadie will treat fans to his brilliantly original music, rooted in Scottish folk and international jazz, with support from polish-born cellist Justyna Jablonska and South Indian violinist Jyotsna Srikanth. Additional New Voices commissions come from harp player and vocalist Esther Swift and fiddler Ross Couper.