Published: 15/10/2014 18:05 - Updated: 16/10/2014 11:59

North musicians join the world wide gathering of talent at Celtic Connections

Mischa MacPherson.
Mischa MacPherson.

AWARD-WINNERS the Mischa MacPherson Trio will be linking Lewis with Lahore as part of next year’s Celtic Connections Festival.

The BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award winning group, comprising Lewis born MacPherson (clarsach and vocals), Innes White (guitar) and Conal McDonagh (pipes and whistles), all graduates of the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music, are teaming up with a group of classical musicians from Pakistan for Lahore Ceol Mor.

This collaborative work was a highlight of Festival 2014, the culture programme that ran alongside the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

A collaboration from closer to home sees Carrbridge singer Rachel Sermanni re-join the Highland and Island musicians of Blazin’ Fiddles, Aoife O’Donovan from the USA and Edinburgh songwriter Adam Holmes in a partnership first seen at the Northern Roots Festival at Eden Court Theatre in Inverness earlier this year.

They are among over 2000 musicians from every corner of the globe who will come to Glasgow between Thursday 15th January and Sunday 1st February 2015.

They include Fairport Convention, Shooglenifty, Tweedy, Eddi Reader, Treacherous Orchestra, Carlos Nunez, Danu, Punch Brothers, Dick Gaughan, Le Vent Du Nord, Tommy Emmanuel, Hudson Taylor, The Pierces, Taraf de Haidouks, Ella the Bird and Skerryvore.

One of the main themes running through next year’s festival is paying homage to the late and great musicians who have left their mark on the current musical landscape.

The Opening Night will be a show dedicated to Martyn Bennett, whose music recently featured in the film of Danny MacAskill’s daredevil bike ride across the Cuillin Ridge while other concerts pay tribute to singer, songwriter, song collector, poet and activist Ewan MacColl, Irish blues guitarist Rory Gallagher and Pipe Major Donald MacLeod MBE.

Another key strands at Celtic Connections 2015 is a collection of gigs that highlight the stories of hand made instruments from across the world.

The Fiddletree is a show inspired by a book of the same name written by Cape Breton violin-maker Otis Thomas. This Celtic Connections gig will include Sarah McFadyen on fiddle and Mairi Campbell on fiddle and viola.

Sam Sweeney’s Fiddle: Made in the Great War is a multi-media performance. In 2009, Bellowhead’s Sam Sweeney bought an apparently new fiddle, but with a label inside that dated it to 1915. His quest to discover the instrument’s story, and that of its original maker — who turned out to have died in World War I — became the starting-point for this acclaimed performance, incorporating music-hall songs, regimental marches and reworked traditional ballads with film and spoken narrative.

The Big Screen at Celtic Connections will feature performances by Glasgow born film composer Craig Armstrong and King Creosote (Kenny Anderson) performing his score for From Scotland With Love, while new Irish supergroup Usher’s Island brings together folk music greats Donal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Paddy Glackin, John Doyle and Michael McGoldrick in their Celtic Connections debut.

Bruce 700, originally commissioned by Stirling Council to mark 700 years since the Battle of Bannockburn, features a cast of some 50 musicians, on pipes, strings, brass, vocals and percussion. Performers include Angus MacDonald, Iain MacDonald, Aidan O’Rourke, Lori Watson, Innes Watson, Christine Hanson, Fraser Fifield, Dick Lee, Duncan Lyall, Mary McMaster, Donald Hay, Daniel Thorpe, Griogair Labhruidh, Kathleen MacInnes and Rod Paterson, together with Stirling youth music groups.

The Elizabethan Session, a specially commissioned project inspired by the Elizabethan age, brings together eight leading folk musicians for the project. Martin Simpson, Nancy Kerr, Jim Moray, Bella Hardy, John Smith, Hannah James, Rachel Newton and Emily Askew form the group who wrote and recorded an album of work at the picturesque location of Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, the African stars include Songhoy Blues from Mali, Afro-beat godfather Tony Allen and Benin’s Angelique Kidjo with the RSNO.

US visitors include Punch Brothers, Jeff Tweedy, Rodney Crowell, Lambchop, Calexico and Grammy-winner Patty Griffin.

Donald Shaw, Artistic Director of Celtic Connections, said: "In recent years, the festival has grown into a celebration of musical genres from all corners of the globe and this will be just as prominent in 2015. At no other festival do musicians embrace the opportunity to collaborate with musicians from different countries and musical genres than they do at Celtic Connections.

"We will not only be celebrating world class music next year, but there will be a number of concerts that highlight the amazing stories behind the making of hand-made instruments from across the world. It is easy to forget about the love and care that goes into creating these personal and exceptional instruments and there is a connection to be drawn between the uniqueness of the musical collaborations we endeavour to showcase at the festival and the creative qualities of these individual instruments."

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