By Nancy King – Cape Breton Post
An nine-day celebration of music, dance and other expressions of Celtic
culture were kicked off in spirited fashion across Cape Breton Friday.
For the first time in the nine-year history of the Celtic Colours
International Festival, it was launched with a pair of “coast to coast”
opening night shows at either end of Cape Breton Island, at two of the
island’s newest entertainment venues – the Sydney Marine Terminal and
the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre.
Gaelic singer Jeff MacDonald – who opened the Causeway Crossing concert
in Port Hawkesbury, along with Jerry Holland and Marion Dewar – has
been performing at Celtic Colours events since 1998, but he noted
performing in the opening concert, held for the first time only 20
minutes away from his home community of Kingsville, was a special treat.
“Actually, the song I’m going to sing is called Fair is the Place, it’s
maybe the first composed in Cape Breton, by a fellow who came over from
P.E.I. and wintered in Judique in 1775 and he’s talking about a real
positive outlook for the future,” MacDonald said.
He added he always encourages friends from Scotland to come visit Cape Breton during the festival.
“Any time you share music, it’s always a very uplifting experience and
certainly the island can be proud that there’s such a festival going
Masters of ceremonies for the Port Hawkesbury show Ian McNeil of CBC
Information Morning and the Cape Breton Post’s Laurel Munroe welcomed
the hundreds of people who attended the Port Hawkesbury concert, both
Cape Breton residents and visitors from around the world who were drawn
to the island for Celtic Colours.
Two of those visitors were Bob and Mayann Sweet of Chicago. They
organized a holiday to Cape Breton around the Celtic Colours festival
after hearing about the event during a previous trip to the island.
The Sweets plan to take in a number of shows around Cape Breton during
their week-long stay and started with the Port Hawkesbury concert.
The musical performances coupled with beautiful scenery make for an attractive holiday, Mayann said.
“We love the music, it’s so lively,” she said.
“The culture here seems so rich. We’re looking forward to going to communities we didn’t visit when we were here before.”
Friday afternoon, organizers were busy making final preparations for the evening performances.
Tickets were scarce for the Sydney show, said festival co-director
Joella Foulds, while some remained available for the Port Hawkesbury
It’s an exhilarating time, the last hours before the curtain goes up
and as artists begin to arrive for their soundchecks,” she added.
“It’s very exciting when we actually get to see the artists arriving and get to listen to what they do,” Foulds said.
The Causeway Crossing show also featured artists Blazin’ Fiddles, Phil
Cunnginham, Bruce Guthro, Joe Derrane and the Boston Edge and the
Taking to the stage at the Sydney Marine Terminal for the Ceilidh at
the Big Fiddle were Beolach, Cathie Ryan, Mary Jane Lamond, Buddy
MacMaster, Doug MacPhee, Kathryn Tickell and La Swing du Suete.
Celtic Colours is a mammoth volunteer effort, with an army of up to 900
people offering their time to ensure that the 48 performances in
locations across Cape Breton Island don’t hit a wrong note.
Copyright © 2005 The Cape Breton Post