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Celtic Colours ends on high note

By Chris Shannon – The Cape Breton Post

Barra MacNeils take 11th edition of festival to roaring finish Saturday night

SYDNEY
— The Barra MacNeils took the 11th edition of the Celtic Colours
International Festival to a roaring finish Saturday night.

The
concert held at the Sydney Marine Terminal was a celebration of the
Sydney Mines band’s work over the last two decades, in which they
carved out a significant niche for themselves in the traditional music
scene.

“It was phenomenal,” Celtic Colours co-director Max MacDonald said.
“We
had a sold-out show. It was a wonderful way to finish the festival and
a real treat to have Paddy Moloney there from the Chieftains. He really
wanted to be there and it’s nice to see in our world that people do
things because it’s important to them.”

The Chieftains frontman,
Moloney, and MacNeil siblings Stewart, Sheumas, Kyle, Lucy, Ryan and
Boyd formed a strong friendship while performing together on the
international stage.

The concert also included David Francey, who
is one of the Barra’s favourite songwriters, making for a magical night
of music, MacDonald said.

“There were a number of (standing ovations). It was really, really nice to see.”

After
nine days, 45 concerts and more than 150 community and educational
workshops that were run by well over 1,000 volunteers and performances
by some 400 musicians, the festival wrapped up another successful year
of promoting Cape Breton’s traditional Celtic roots through story and
song.

The last week-and-a-half has been quite the ride for MacDonald, along with festival co-director Joella Foulds.

Now
that it’s over, there was some time Sunday for MacDonald to reflect on
concerts and workshops that make up the festival, which is considered
one of the world’s best examples of carrying on the Celtic tradition.

“We
believe, as a festival, that we have a role to play, not just to
present existing music, but we believe we have a role to play in
facilitating the birth of new music.”

The festival was able to do
that by introducing fans to a special project that brought 10 talented
singer-songwriters from the Canadian and Scottish roots/traditional
scene together.

At a home in Beinn Bhreagh they collaborated and
created new material over four days. It culminated with the work’s
premiere at a performance at Strathspey Place in Mabou last Tuesday.

Called
the New Tunemakers, MacDonald said its uniqueness has bred excitement
that they’ll hope to duplicate with another special project to be
unveiled next year.

Planning has already been underway for next
year’s festival for months now. There will be little downtime for
MacDonald and the rest of the organization as acts are pencilled in and
event sites are booked.

He does admit there’s a bit of an emotional letdown following such a dizzying week of events.

“It’s
extremely exciting and invigorating work we do, and in the midst of
world-class artists at the top of their game and to see the excitement
of visitors from all over the world, it’s quite the sight to behold.”

Copyright © 2007 Cape Breton Post

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