Showing posts with label martyr bennett. Show all posts
Showing posts with label martyr bennett. Show all posts

Monday 23 February 2015

Celtic Connections music 2015!

Every year at Celtic I am astonished by the musical talent in Scotland and beyond. I wish the festival might not end (!) while I know it must!  It is intense, challenging, rewarding, varied, colourful with packed out halls and venues all over Glasgow.

Some GREAT Celtic Connections concerts this year and even better than last year!  How can they top things year on year!  The high quality of the sound, lighting, great audiences, quality musicianship, exciting new younger musicians, the collaborations, beautiful singing. The festival is so enriching and obvious the care and thought  that goes into bringing it all together.  
Transatlantic Sessions
The opening concert this year was just epic and a premier one off!  The Concert hall concerts are at 7.30 and if I'm doing photos I need to be there before 7, so I go into the open mic for some nice live music beforehand. There are also very fun ceilidh bands at the wonderful Old Fruitmarket venue, which are usually later on and start about 9.30 or 10pm - I sat beside Eddi Reader at one!  It is fun to pass all the familiar faces each year - Donald Shaw, Rab Noakes, Phil Cunningham, Roddy Hart and others.  

-Thankfully I did not miss the awesome Opening Concert Nae Regrets - We were treated to an outstanding opening concert!  Highly innovative. Multi-talented, multi-layered orchestra. Put a smile on my face. -The Martin Bennett epic one off opening concert - so worth watching in BBC iplayer.  Martyn Bennett's 2003 GRIT was given its live premier with a colourful score by composer Greg Lawson and the concert proved one of the best events I've been to at Celtic Connections music festival.
Bennett was a Scottish musician and composer and the concert marked the tenth anniversary of his untimely death at the age of thirty-three - poignantly he wrote the album while he was dying of cancer. The album offers a musical journey - producing pounding bass rhythms, hesitant strings, gradual and also unexpected crescendos, brass epic grandeur, haunting Gaelic voices, thematic stirring pipes and also humour. The Grit album is about pushing the boundaries and limitations. The orchestra of over 80 musicians on the Glasgow concert hall stage tonight consisted of mostly younger folk, jazz and classical musicians. I expect they enjoyed playing a new piece that felt contemporary yet drawing strongly on past traditions. Conductor Greg appeared overcome as he reached the summit tonight, after years in the planning and he commented that he needed a crash helmet as it felt like his head might explode!

ALSO...The festival always ensures such a high standard of concerts. When the brochure arrives it is always a challenge to select which concerts to attend - especially over the busy weekends when there are often several events on on the same evenings. Also this year there was such a heavy snowfall on the first Friday that I missed my first Old Fruitmarket gig, Horizons, with Kate Rusby and Karine Polwart and others. I made up for it though by enjoying the wonderful Fruitmarket venue on the Thursday for the fun ceilidh bands - the highly accomplished and entertaining Alan Kelly Gang and Braebach,  alongside the soothing New Zealand sounds of Horomana Horo.

Punch Brothers
Top events for me this year included  -  The Craig Armstrong concert of his film music with full orchestra was incredible - he wrote music for Romeo and Juliet and the Great Gatsby and more. New album out, wrote this -
The Punch Brothers were delightful with their high tempo banjos, quality acapella vocal harmonies. They are a contemporary American bluegrass band and they sang on the Coen Brothers 2013 film Inside LLewyn Davis (cool movie). The concert for the life-affirming songs of folk revivalist Ewan MacColl, with Martin Carthy, Jarvis Cocker and Paul Buchanan. On top of all this it was a huge treat to hear live the powerhouse voice and music of legend Van Morrison. Mind-blowing. And not to forget the perfect concert with the Transatlantic band. 
Concert for Ewan MacColls songs

Celtic Connections 2016! will be announced in October 2015 when the popular concert hall concerts sell out quite fast. Much depends what kind of concert you prefer - dancing ceilidh, singer songwriters, traditional, indie, world music, Americana or other... Karine Polwart, Eddi Reader and Julie Fowlis are all great singers.

There are pure traditionalist who believe in keeping traditions alive (such as Ewan MacColl, Dick Gaughan). There are folk musicians who believe the genre needs to be taken forward - such as the incomparable Martyn Bennett (what a loss of talent). I believe there is a need for both strands to run side by side, for the roots and traditions to build on but also the need for creativity and inspirations. This festival is for those who don't want their music brought to them by big media outlets or by Radio One. 
Sara Watkins

A massive thanks to all the welcoming media and artists who come together to make this such a vibrant festival. Back a couple of decades ago it would have been unthinkable and only a dream that folk musicians might one day play to packed out concert halls. In no small part all this is thanks to those who worked for the folk revival both here and in the US - including Ewan MacColl, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Dick Gaughan and others. 

This is my eight year (where does time go!) covering Celtic and the festival gets better year on year. it's culturally a great boost for Glasgow.
All in all yet another wonderful 18 days of Celtic music to warm the days and the soul..
Carthy Family
McCrary Sisters
Patty Griffith
*Another note. Celtic Connections festival is also run by a Scot, Donald Shaw, who is from south of Oban, which is unusual (or rather unique!) in itself, as most major creative arts post in Scotland are held by non-Scots.  No Scot has been head of the Scottish National theatre or Creative Scotland.