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Arts / Glasgow Concert Hall to shine a light on isles’ musical heritage

Fiddlers' Bid will reprise their collaboration with Finnish group Frigg at the Royal Concert Hall.
Fiddlers' Bid.

SHETLAND will take centre stage at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall for a show dedicated to the islands’ social and musical heritage on the opening weekend of the returning Celtic Connections festival in January.

Acts confirmed for the show on Saturday 22 January so far include Fiddlers’ Bid, Nordic Fiddlers Bloc and singers Freda Leask and Inge Thomson, who will perform as part of Shetland 550: Norn Voices.

“Celebrating Shetland” will mark 550 years since the realisation of Shetland, with some of the isles’ best-known performers delivering a showcase and celebration of its heritage.

It is part of the return of the popular annual festival, running from Thursday 20 January until Sunday 6 February, after Covid-19 restrictions meant the 2021 event was online-only.

The dedicated concert is not the only contribution Shetland artists will make to the 18-day festival, which will feature over 1,000 musicians in total.

Levenwick-based singer Jenny Sturgeon is among the names taking part in this year’s opening concert, ‘Neath the Gloamin’ Star’, alongside singers including Hannah Rarity and Amythyst Kiah.

The virtuosic fiddle talents of RANT, featuring Shetlander Bethany Reid, will team up with The Ledger (Gillian Frame, Findlay Napier and Mike Vass) in a special collaboration offering a nod to the 25th anniversary of the Celtic Colours festival in Cape Breton.

Fiddler Ross Couper, meanwhile, will present a new piece of work as part of the festival’s Sunday afternoon New Voices strand.

Celtic Connections creative producer Donald Show said: “There’s no doubt that this year’s festival has an added significance to it, and in the context of the last couple of years, we’re eager to capture the collective human experience that is at the heart of what’s been missing for people – the sharing of experiences, songs, music and stories.”

This is the 29th year of Celtic Connections and as usual a host of big names from both sides of the Atlantic will feature.

Scottish indie band The Twilight Sad will play a stripped-back show at the Old Fruitmarket, while Malian musical royalty Amadou & Mariam, Alabama’s St. Paul and the Broken Bones and Yorkshire folk stalwart Kate Rubsy also feature.

This year’s Transatlantic Sessions features Irish folk legend Paul Brady, Dirk Powel, Siobhan Miller and Leyla McCalla, while Tuesday 25 January will see the Royal Concert Hall host a tribute to late country great Nanci Griffith.

Other big collaborations will see Capercaillie joined by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestara joining British-Indian sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar 50 years on from her father Ravi Shankar writing his genre-defining symphony for sitar and orchestra.