2023 marked a welcome return. with long queues at the Danny Kyle open mic stage, packed venues and an excitement to have the popular festival back, after the restricted lockdown years of the Covid. (2021, 2022): and showcasing performances from some of the world’s most celebrated artists Europe’s premier folk, roots and world music festival Celtic Connections drew to a close after 18 days of spectacular concerts, unique and powerful collaborations and captivating screenings.
Celtic Connections, one of the world’s largest winter music festivals and this year saw its 30th year, celebrated with an exciting line-up for its Opening concert – The Big Band plus - Sierra Hull’s mandolin, Hebridean Peat and Diesel folk rock; Maeve Gilchrist harp melodies; Mali’s duo Dre Cali, Liam O Maonial’s band Hot House Flowers, singers Karine Polwart, Kim Carnie, Rachel Sermann, and Fergus McCreadie’s jazz piano.
The concert included musicians who have been involve since its beginning, as well as providing a platform for future talent, everything from contemporary dance to punk-inspired folk rock.
The world-renowned festival,19th January to 5th February, was held without restrictions for the first time since 2020, staging more than 300 events with more than 100,000 attendances at 25 venues across Glasgow, from the famous Glasgow Royal Concert Hall to the Mackintosh Church in the west end and Tramway in the southside.(There was also over 10,000 attendances at free events).
Irish Celtic Music. Róisín Reimagined with award-winning Irish singer Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh and Irish Chamber Orchestra teamed up for a new project that combined exceptional vocals with fresh orchestral arrangements of sean nós songs, breathing new life into the noble, classical music of 16th-19th century Gaelic Ireland.
Another notable performance was Rise Kagona, lead guitarist and only remaining member of the mega-successful Zimbabwean rock band The Bhundu Boys. One of the most successful contemporary folk musicians from Finland, Maija Kauhanen, combined her expressive voice with Finnish kantele when she performed with composer Andrew Waite. Rozi Plain performed tracks from her upcoming fifth LP, Prize and local musician Terra Kin presented their debut EP Too Far Gone.
Other highlights - Malian duo Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia, with their rich and radiant blend of desert blues, Afro-pop, rock and hip-hop. Hen Hoose, a songwriting collective, brought together artists with ground-breaking music. Man of the Minch, at the forefront of Scottish folk music performed tracks from his debut album, The Tide is at the Turning. One of Mali’s most dynamic artists Rokia Koné gave her first live performance in the UK of her debut album Bamanan, which was named one of the New York Times Best Albums of 2022.
The popular Cherish the Ladies, all-female American supergroup, champions of Celtic music, captivated with soulful singing, uplifting traditional Irish tunes and energetic dancing, as they celebrated 38 years.
The sold out Transatlantic sessions brought together accomplished musicians and talented solo performers and went on tour to six UK venues. My personal highlights were Danny Kyle open stage, Vent du Nord, Duncan Chisholm, Kim Carnie and TS concerts
**Showcase Scotland, highlighted international partners Brittany and Wales during the six-day programme. The music industry event, which returned for the first time in two years, introduced delegates from across the world to the Scottish music sector, featuring this year’s partners Spectacle vivant en Bretagne - EPCC, and Wales Arts International - Celfyddydau Rhyngwladol Cymru.
Donald Shaw, Creative Producer for Celtic Connections, said: “It has been incredible to celebrate the 30th edition of Celtic Connections and showcase folk, roots and world music, bringing communities from across the globe together in Glasgow. This year’s festival was a huge success and the calibre of the artists was incredible.
“We are honoured to have brought Europe's largest winter music festival to audiences from all over the world for the last 30 years. This year, we paid homage to all the musicians and artists who have contributed to Celtic Connections over the past three decades. We can’t wait to return in 2024 and once again bring music from around the world to the heart of Glasgow.”
|Vent du Nord|
**New Talent at Celtic Connections - Lewis McLaughlin, who won the Glastonbury emerging talent
Kim Carnie, award winning Gaelic singer and composer, Mercury nominated Fergus McCreadie jazz pianist,
*Danny Kyle Stage, 24th year – Binky Blue – Carnan – Chloe Matharu – Falasgair – Tem and Will Boyd-Wallis
*Winner Young Trad Musician 2023 – pianist Amy Laurence, who mixes traditions from Shetland
This year’s winner of the prestigious award joins a list which recently has included amongst others the 2022 winner fiddler Eryn Rae, pianist Michael Biggins, piper Ali Levack, fiddler Benedict Morris and singer Hannah Rarity. Amy said: “I am stunned and delighted to be the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician for 2023 and to follow in the footsteps of past winners, who are such an inspiration.”
Originally from Shetland, Amy began her journey through traditional music at the age of 16 when she began attending lessons from Violet Tulloch, who she still considers a large influence. In 2017 she made the move to Glasgow to study Classical Piano at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland before making the switch, in 2019, to the traditional department where she was awarded a first-class honours degree in traditional music. As part of the 2023 award, Amy wins a recording session with BBC Scotland, an opportunity to perform at the Scots Trad Music Awards later in the year, plus a one-year membership to the Musicians Union.