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Celtic music moves to centre stage

By Laura Jean Grant -The Cape Breton Post

PORT HAWKESBURY – The frenzied, last-minute preparations came to an end and the music took over Friday night as the 12th annual Celtic Colours International Festival began with a dynamic, moving show that brought the audience along on a Celtic journey through time.

The sounds of fiddles, bagpipes, drums, whistles and harps filled the air at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre as some of the most renowned local and international Celtic musicians performed in the festival’s opening show, led by Galician bagpiper Carlos Núñez

Joined by his own band and talented friends like J.P. Cormier, Jerry Holland, Gaiteros de La Habana, Annie Ebrel, Corrina Hewat and the Blue Engine String Quartet — Núñez explored Cape Breton’s rich cultural history with sounds from Cuba, Scotland, Spain, Ireland, France, Cape Breton and beyond.

Musician Marion Dewar of Antigonish, joined Cape Breton’s Jerry Holland in the opening show and said it was exciting to share the stage with such a diverse and talented group of musicians and dancers.

“There’s a lot of energy up there. It’s lovely. It’s certainly an honour to be on stage with Carlos and J.P. It’s very humbling,” she said.

It’s the seventh Celtic Colours appearance for Dewar who describes the festival as a chance to meet up with old friends and make new ones.

“I just find everyone very helpful and everyone lends their talent,” she said. “There’s a real excitement in the air.”

Music fans — approximately 1,500 filled the Port Hawkesbury facility Friday — seemed to feel the same way.

“The atmosphere — it’s happy,” said Donald MacFayden of Malagawatch, who attends about four Celtic Colours shows each year. “The air is always full of excitement and people are happy to be here.”

With the festival now underway, people across Cape Breton and thousands of visitors are in store for a nine-day celebration of Celtic music and culture featuring 47 shows and more than 265 special events in communities across the island.

Highlights of the coming Thanksgiving weekend will include tonight’s Ceilidh at the Big Fiddle in Sydney and the Kelly’s Dream show in Boularderie; Sunday’s Coming Home: A Songwriters Concert and Thanksgivin’er, both in Sydney; and Monday’s Generations show in Judique and The French Connection concert in Petit-de-Grat.

The complete Celtic Colours schedule and information about shows, artists, community events and tickets are available at www.celtic-colours.com.

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