By Laura Jean Grant –The Cape Breton Post
MARION BRIDGE — Their struggles to get here have only made the Inverness Gaelic Choir’s experience at the Celtic Colours International Festival that much sweeter.
The award-winning Scottish choir, which is wrapping up its visit to Cape Breton and the festival, enjoyed a relaxing afternoon performance at the Mira Seniors and Pensioners Centre in Marion Bridge, Wednesday. The choir members were joined by a few local Gaelic singers for a traditional milling frolic.
It’s the first trip to Celtic Colours for the renowned choir, which has won the prestigious Lovat and Tullibardine Shield five times at the Royal National Mod. They’ve also performed the opening of Scottish Parliament and at the Scottish Trad Music Awards.
The choir members were excited to add Celtic Colours to their list of appearances but an airline collapse in late August put the trip and years of planning, fundraising and saving money in jeopardy.
“We had made all our plans to come here and we were going to fly Zoom. Everything was in place we thought and then suddenly Zoom collapsed and so did our spirits for that day or two,” explained choir member Janet MacGregor.
But the choir quickly pulled together an emergency meeting and sent out appeals to individuals, organizations and the general public to help them come up with the money to go. The response was overwhelming and the choir was able to book new flights and attend Celtic Colours, which began Oct. 10 and continues until Saturday in communities across Cape Breton.
“The experience has been absolutely fantastic. The people have been just so friendly and we’ve had such a ball, is the word for it and our host families have just been wonderful,” said fellow choir member Myre McNab.
MacGregor explained that all 24 choir members who made the trip have been billeted at homes in Inverness and in the Cape Breton Regional Muncipality.
“Everybody has been so good, so kind to these strangers from Scotland. We’ve been made so welcome. It’s just unbelievable,” said MacGregor.
With three concerts in four nights, the choir has been busy during their stay in Cape Breton.
“We’ve really enjoyed singing in every venue. (Tuesday) night was just awesome,” said McNab, in reference to the Let the Voices Ring concert at the United Protestant Church in Sydney River.
“I think performance-wise, (Tuesday) night was certainly our best. It’s the one we enjoyed most and the one in which we performed best, I would say. The acoustics in that church were just absolutely fantastic,” said MacGregor.
There were lots of other trip highlights for the group, including an impromptu gathering at a bar in Sydney River, Tuesday night.
“We had just a hoot at Ziggy’s. We took over this pub and we ended up just ourselves and we had a sing-song and we just had a ball,” said McNab. “We just let our hair down and we even sang as a choir before we left last night for the bar men,” said McNab.
“After a few beers, I don’t think it sounded quite so perfect but never mind, he enjoyed it,” added MacGregor with a laugh.
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