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Celtic Connections will celebrate Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters with a full day of special events all anchored to the maritime traditions that have shaped the country’s history.
Coastal Connections, a one-off festival within a festival, will take place in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on January 18, offering single-ticket access to a packed programme of ocean-themed music, talks, film, storytelling, exhibitions and workshops.
Funded through EventScotland’s International Programme supporting Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020, Coastal Connections will present musicians from more than 20 islands, coasts and peninsulas, including Tiree-based Skerryvore, Oban-founded Capercaillie, Hebridean super-group Daimh, North Uist-born Julie Fowlis, Gnoss from Shetland, Orkney roots group Fara, Fiddler Gillian Frame from Arran, and Ceol Nan Eilean from Benbecula. Cape Breton neighbours Anita MacDonald and Ben Miller appear, along with projects by Feis Rois, Lochaber-based Ingrid Henderson and award-winning duo Mairearad and Anna from The Black Isle/Wester Ross.
In keeping with the festival’s strong commitment to roots music from and inspired by the edge of the Atlantic, the event will celebrate the unique heritage and diverse culture of the coasts and waters of Scotland.
Given the rich seam of folklore that runs along our shorelines, myths, legends and storytelling will be a recurring theme of Coastal Connections and one of the highlights will be the first ever appearance of Vision Mechanics’ latest huge outdoor spectacular with support from EventScotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters and Creative Scotland. (Further details about the Vision Mechanics outdoor spectacular will be revealed at the full Year of Coasts and Waters programme launch in mid-November.)
The waters around Scotland and the shore-to-shore journeys made by residents and visitors will be celebrated with a musical contribution from Ferry Tales, a forthcoming production from the National Theatre of Scotland, with the support of Caledonian MacBrayne and their ferries.
Scotland’s seas can be treacherous, of course, and Coastal Connections will also present Launch!: an immersive performance combining footage from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s film archive with live music.
The event, created by award-winning film curator Shona Thomson and sound artist/beatboxer Jason Singh, will draw inspiration from the footage, sounds and stories they discovered within the archive of this 200-year-old organisation. It will also feature a guest performance by singer-songwriter Jenny Sturgeon of acclaimed alt-folk band, Salt House.
Announcing the Year of Coasts and Waters event, Celtic Connections creative producer Donald Shaw said: ‘Landscape and culture are very closely linked and since Celtic communities have often been island or shore-based, there’s a strong maritime element to many Celtic songs and legends.
‘Scotland’s Year of Coasts And Waters is a great opportunity to explore that rich heritage through music and drama, and we are delighted to be presenting Coastal Connections as a festival within a festival that already celebrates the very best of Celtic culture.’
Councillor David McDonald, depute leader of Glasgow City Council and chairman of Glasgow Life, said: ‘Coastal Connections adds a new and exciting element to a festival that is already a highlight of Scotland’s cultural year.
‘I’m particularly pleased that Songs Of The Clyde will feature alongside music from the furthest reaches of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands on a packed programme that looks set to be among the UK’s hottest tickets of 2020.’
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s director of events, said: ‘Coastal Connections will be one of the early events to herald the arrival of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 and we are delighted to be supporting it.
‘Scotland is the perfect stage for events and this gathering of musicians and performers will bring Scotland’s maritime traditions to the fore, immersing audiences in the culture of our coasts and waters while celebrating the treasured natural assets that are enjoyed year-round by visitors and local communities.’
Robbie Drummond, managing director of CalMac Ferries, said: ‘Celtic Connections helps brighten up Januarys in Glasgow so what better way to kick off the Year of Coasts and Waters than with an island festival in the city.’