The opening concert for Celtic Connections 2016 celebrated the 50th anniversary of Scotland’s Traditional Music and Song Association. An early TMSA statement was outlined the organisation's desire to champion Scotland’s authentic tradition-bearers against over-commercialism and dilution, to keep the thread of Scottish traditional music flowing and secure traditional song’s place in Scottish music. Their mission 'To promote, present and preserve the traditional music & song of Scotland' was certainly acknowledged in the concert.
The show began with the uplifting pipes of the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland and it included an impressive array of stars and greats of the Scottish music scene: Barbara Dickson, Sheena Wellington, Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham. Unaccompanied traditional songs were performed by Adam McNaughton, Thomas McCarthy, Arthur Johnston, Brian Miller, Pete Shepherd, Tom Spiers, Arthur Watson, Jim Taylor, Joe Aitkin, Geordie Murison and Jimmy Hutchison.
Up-and-coming stars also took part – they included the Gaelic singer Misha Macpherson, Shona Donaldson, the American story-teller Rayna Gilbert, Kris Drever and the show's musical director Sioban Miller.
With such a high calibre of performers it is hard to select only a few highlights – it certainly ended on some high notes with Sheena Wellington's 'A Man's a Man for a' That', the poignant fiddle playing of Aly Bain and a powerful performance by Malinky. For the rousing finale with all the singers onstage, we were treated to Hamish Henderson's 'Freedom Come All Ye'.
The concert was very much about tradition with wonderful models of the stalwarts of Scottish traditional music scene - Davy Stewart, Hamish Henderson, Sheila Stewart – in the concert hall foyer.
However the concert also embraced future stars and a special mention should go to the fantastic house band comprising: Euan Burton, Anna Massie, Aaron Jones, Tom Gibbs, John Blease and Megan Henderson.
Celtic Connections will showcase some of the world's leading trad, folk and world music artists. It's great to have the festival back once more.
Photos and Review Pauline Keightley - http://pkimage.co.uk/