Core Gaelic programming in Nova Scotia allows for the enhancement of Gaelic Language instruction while creating Gaelic speaking environments for students in Grades 4 – 9. Teaching methods focus on functional language, song, drama, an exploration of a lived Nova Scotia Gaelic heritage, and the opportunity for children to use Gaelic for social interaction amongst themselves as well as with the local Gaelic speaking community. The program provides a natural stepping stone in preserving, maintaining and developing the Gaelic Language.
Donna-Marie is sixteen year old fiddler from River Tillard, Richmond County, who has been playing fiddle for 6 years. She started out taking fiddle lessons from Shelly Campbell, and then added group lessons with Eddy Rodgers. Donna-Marie lists Shelly Campbell as a big influence on her playing and also likes to listen to tunes by Shelly Campbell, Donald Angus Beaton, John Morris Rankin, and Kinnon Beaton.
Trained by dedicated teachers like Bonnie Jean MacDonald, Margie, Dawn, and Andrea Beaton, Douglas has absorbed the proud history of the Cape Breton style of Celtic fiddling. Born and raised in the northern Inverness County community of Belle Cote, he has played piano in concerts since the age of five, and fiddle since he was nine. Still in his teens, Douglas is a veteran of Celtic Colours and has played many dances and concerts in Cape Breton. He has also performed in Scotland, Ireland and France and released his first CD in 2010. The CD shows Douglas honouring the tradition handed down to him by his teachers and the many great Cape Breton fiddlers who have influenced Cape Breton fiddle playing.
Comunn Féis Mhàbu was founded to support both children and adults in their pursuits to learn more about Cape Breton’s unique Gaelic culture. Féis Mhàbu allows individuals, particularly young people, to develop skills in the area of Gaelic language and performance arts and provides opportunities for the organizers to enhance the rich local culture with the talents and experience of tradition bearers from other areas of the Celtic world. The youth performers that will be taking part in the Festival have been faithful participants in two of Féis Mhàbu’s more unique programs, Eirich Air! and the Musical Mentorship Program.
La Swing du Suête initially came together in 1997 for the first annual Cape Breton Dance Festival in Cheticamp. Over the years, La Swing du Suête has presented itself across the Maritime provinces as well as in Quebec and Louisiana, USA. The troupe continues to enchant audiences with their music, their dances, and particularly their charm. This troupe is comprised of some 27 dancers ranging in age from 10 to 17 all students at École NDA in Chéticamp.
Kelly MacArthur is a champion dancer from Cape Breton, who has competed and performed all over the world and taught Highland and Cape Breton Step Dance for the past 25 years, including 15 years at her own Dance Studio in Sydney, the MacArthur School of Dance. The school has a performance troupe called the CapeLand Dancers which consists of top level dancers from all over Cape Breton. Performing with Kelly are Beth MacLellan and Breagh MacInnis. Both girls have been dancing with Kelly for 15 years, and are top competitors and seasoned performers.
Mckayla began playing the fiddle at the age of 5, taking lessons with Joy Thibeau, Andrea Beaton, Shelly Campbell, Eddy Rodgers and, for the last three years, Kyle MacNeil. Mckayla joined the Cape Breton Fiddlers Association in 2004 and played in many concerts with the group around Nova Scotia and in Scotland. She was thrilled recently when she had the opportunity to play on stage with the Barra MacNeils. Mckayla has participated in the Kiwanis music festival and the Archie Neil Stage youth showcase at the Gaelic College.
Preparation for the 1973 Festival of Cape Breton Fiddling in Glendale gave birth to the Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Association. The Association’s main mandate has been to preserve and promote traditional Cape Breton fiddle music. In 1998, the Association celebrated its 25th anniversary with two hundred and two fiddlers on stage at the Gaelic College. Ten years later, nearly one hundred members embarked on a ten-day tour of Scotland. By providing workshops and opportunities to learn new tunes and techniques, publishing tunes, and providing venues for musicians, the Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Association is flourishing. In 2013, the Association will welcome several fiddle groups to celebrate the 40th Festival of Cape Breton Fiddling.