One of the most remarkable features of Celtic Colours International Festival is the uniqueness of the event. Being spread over nine days with performances and workshops in dozens of communities around Cape Breton Island during the height of Autumn’s barrage of colour really sets it apart from practically any other music festival in the world. Beyond the setting are the events themselves. Attracting some of the finest musicians from the Celtic world, this festival offers many opportunities to experience the music in innovative and original situations.
On October 11th, festival-goers are invited to Step into the Past for a performance at the King’s Bastion Chapel in the reconstructed 18th century Fortress Louisbourg. The evening starts with an authentic 18th century candlelight dinner before a lantern-procession to the Chapel and an intimate concert of harp music, flute, piping and Gaelic singing. This show was a big hit last year, with many envious of those who were able to get tickets before it sold out.
In the early 1970’s, believe it or not, there was a great fear that the Cape Breton fiddler would disappear from the landscape of this isle forever. This feeling prompted the production of The Vanishing Cape Breton Fiddler, a documentary aired on CBC television. In response to the film, the Cape Breton Fiddlers Association was formed in 1971 and the rest, as they say, is history. At the Gaelic College in St.Ann’s, the Cape Breton Fiddlers Association will take the stage for their only appearance at the festival. This fifty-plus member group of fiddlers of all ages will delight fans of Cape Breton fiddling.
The Great Hall of the Clans at the Gaelic College will play host to perhaps the most innovative performance of this year’s festival when the St. Ann’s Bay Players present “Carolan: Last of the Irish Bards”. By Newfoundland playwright Peter Soucy, this dramatization of the life and times of blind Irish harper Turlough O’Carolan brings to life the turbulent turn of the 18th century in Ireland. This Friday night (October 15) performance starts with a traditional meal to set the mood.
In a world of Celtic music, many say that it’s the piano accompaniment that gives Cape Breton’s fiddle music the distinctive sound of Cape Breton Island. Celtic Pianos on October 12 is a rare opportunity to hear some of the finest solo and group piano playing in the Cape Breton tradition including Dougie MacPhee, Tracey Dares MacNeil, Maybelle Chisholm MacQueen, Joey Beaton and more.
And in the tradition of offering the finest entertainment available anywhere, this year’s Guitar Summit in Judique (October 14) is a show that wouldn’t be out of place at Carnegie Hall or in any other world class venue anywhere. Tony McManus, J.P. Cormier, Brittany’s Soig Siberil, the legendary Dan Crary, Gordie Sampson and the godfather of them all, John Allan Cameron are sure to make this third Celtic Colours Guitar Summit the best yet!