By Laura Jean Grant -The Cape Breton Post
SYDNEY – Some of Cape Breton’s top talent will headline the opening concert of one the biggest festivals in the Celtic music world.
The Barra MacNeils, J.P. Cormier, Ashley MacIsaac, Mary Jane Lamond, Jerry Holland, Wendy MacIsaac, and Kimberley Fraser are among those making the trip from here to Glasgow, Scotland for the Celtic Connections festival, which opens tonight with The Cape Breton Connection show. The Cape Bretoners will be joined by several renowned Scottish musicians including harpist/singer Corrina Hewat, Gaelic singer Margaret Bennett and pianist David Milligan.
Sitting at the Halifax Airport earlier this week awaiting her flight to Scotland, Lamond said she was looking forward to making a return to Celtic Connections, a prestigious event showcasing approximately 1,500 artists who perform in 300 events over 18 days. But with opening night just a couple days away and with all sorts of last-minute details about the show being ironed out, Lamond also had a lot on her mind.
“I was madly e-mailing all morning back and forth. So far it’s just been extremely nerve-racking just trying to get everything together. Finally I had to get off the Internet this morning and just say ‘OK, I have to pack,'” said Lamond, who will co-host tonight’s concert at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall Auditorium with Hewat. “I’m really looking forward to working with Corrina Hewat and David Milligan. They’re wonderful musicians and they’re going to be playing with myself and Wendy and Chris Corrigan, who is playing guitar with me, … so that’s going to be great for the opening concert.”
From the full band Celtic sound of the Barra MacNeils, to the very traditional Cape Breton playing of Jerry Holland, to the often unpredictable and energetic performances of Ashley MacIsaac – Lamond said the concert is a great representation of the island’s talent and they’re thrilled to be involved in the festival’s opening show.
“There’s a pile of people on and off the stage so it’s going to be big,” she said.
Many of the Cape Breton musicians participating in Celtic Connections also have other performances scheduled during the festival, including Lamond who will be featured in a Friday night show with Breabach, a young, up-and-coming Scottish band.
“I’ve never seen them before so I’ll be meeting them for the first time on Friday,” she said.
A Gaelic singer who has performed around the world, Lamond has been a long supporter and popular performer at Cape Breton’s Celtic Colours International Festival held each October in communities across the island. She’s also performed on several occasions at Celtic Connections, giving her a unique perspective when comparing the two.
“(Celtic Connections) is all different venues all over the city, so it’s different in every venue you go to. It’s a big festival. It’s huge and a lot of the venues are quite large and there’s a really fun festival club that happens after hours. You’re all kind of in the central hotel or thereabouts and the festival club is there, so in some ways it’s not that different than Celtic Colours in terms of the after-hours thing,” she said.
Both events are also a welcome opportunity for performers to reconnect with each other.
“You see Celtic musicians from all over the place that you get to see at festivals and that’s pretty much about it, so it’s a great time for visiting as well as the performance,” said Lamond.
Celtic Connections and Celtic Colours share a strong relationship and the festivals have partnered on a number of projects in the past. Both are known for drawing some of the best Celtic music talent in the world.
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