Nelson Mandela and Seamus Heaney to be celebrated at Celtic Connections International Burns Night, Saturday 25th January

Celtic Connections and Homecoming Scotland present International Burns ConcertNelson Mandela and Seamus Heaney to be celebrated at Celtic Connections International Burns Night
Celtic Connections 2014 will pay tribute to the late greats Nelson Mandela and Seamus Heaney at the Celtic Connections International Burns Night this Saturday, 25th January.
With 2014 headlined as the year that Scotland welcomes the world, there isn’t  a more fitting time or place for Celtic Connections to celebrate its coming of age than on Robert Burns’ birthday at Glasgow’s landmark new national arena, the SSE Hydro, thanks to support from Homecoming Scotland 2014.
Nelson Mandela had a very special relationship with the city of Glasgow. Mandela made clear how special it was to be a guest of the city of Glasgow when he visited in 1993. He maintained that Glasgow would always hold a distinguished place in the records of the international campaign against apartheid.

Mandela said during his visit here: “The people of Glasgow in 1981 were the first in the world to confer on me the freedom of the city at a time when I and my comrades were imprisoned on Robben Island serving life sentences, which in apartheid South Africa then meant imprisonment until death.”

One of Africa’s leading artists Bongani Tembe, who sang at Mandela’s funeral as the military officers accompanied the casket of the former South African President, will pay tribute to Mandela during the concert. The Mahotella Queens from South Africa will also be performing on the night.

Brian Filling, author of The Glasgow Mandela Story and honorary consul for South Africa in Scotland, said: “I’m delighted that we are remembering Nelson Mandela as part of the Celtic Connections International Burns Night. The fact that the Mahotella Queens will be performing at the concert alongside the amazing Bongani will be incredibly special.
“This is just the beginning though, there will be a number of events in Glasgow and Scotland that will celebrate Madiba’s life in the run up to Mandela Day on 18th July 2014.”
Cork musician and singer/songwriter John Spillane will pay tribute to Irish bard Seamus Heaney as part of the Celtic Connections International Burns Night.
Renowned as one of the most influential poets of the 20th century, Heaney wrote over 20 volumes of poetry and criticism and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. He has left behind a legacy of accessible poetry that many can relate to across the commonwealth.
The theme of homecoming has always been integral to the festival, via Celtic music’s myriad international journeys, past and present, as has the inspirational worldwide legacy of Burns’ poetry, songs and music. Ahead of the summer’s sporting highlights, this once-in-a-lifetime concert both encapsulates Celtic Connections’ expanding aspirations over its first 20 years, welcoming back a splendidly diverse but uniformly stellar array of artists who’ve previously graced the programme, while exploring Burns’ influence throughout the Commonwealth nations.
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra will be in residence for the night performing alongside an eclectic line-up who will help celebrate the national bard’s birthday.
South African vocal trio The Mahotella Queens will perform their close-harmony version of jazzy mbaqanga township music.
Scotland’s very own Capercaillie, who have just celebrated their 30th anniversary with a sell out gig at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall last weekend, will also be performing.
Greek-Cypriot Alkinoos Ioannidis, who is much loved in his homeland as an eloquent cultural and political commentator, will perform with Scotland’s own Karine Polwart.
Rising international star of India’s blossoming alternative music scene Raghu Dixit will combine classically inspired lyrics with folk, blues, rock, Sufi, funk, reggae, bhangra and Latin sounds. Raghu’s own dancers have also flown in especially from India to perform at this special performance.
The home-grown trailblazers Salsa Celtica will serve up their own unique cross-cultural fusion including a special guest appearance from Julie Fowlis.
This star-studded bill will also feature the outstanding Scottish voice of Rachel Sermanni. Australian band The Mae Trio (pictured) and Scottish legend Dougie MacLean will also be performing alongside other very special guests from home and abroad, ensuring a party that Rabbie himself would have relished.
The string section of the RSNO will also be performing alongside some selected guests from Feis Rois.
Donald Shaw, Artistic Director of Celtic Connections, said: “I am delighted that the amazing Bongani Tembe and John Spillane have agreed to come along and help Celtic Connections commemorate the life of Nelson Mandela and Seamus Heaney as part of the festival’s International Burns Night. Mandela and Heaney were both remarkable men who have made significant footprints on the life we all know now across the Commonwealth and beyond.
“The stellar line up of homegrown talent and international acts will also explore the cultural ties and influence Scotland’s traditional music and the work of Robert Burns has had on other Commonwealth countries.
“I can’t wait to see this celebratory show in the brand new SSE Hydro and I would like to say a huge thank you to Homecoming Scotland 2014 for their support.”
Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life and Executive Committee Member of the Commonwealth Games, said: “Celtic Connections will truly come of age in 2014 when it showcases one of the biggest concert ever in the history of the festival at the brand new SSE Hydro. It’s a lovely occasion to mark the lives of Nelson Mandela and Seamus Heaney.
“Celtic Connections has grown from humble beginnings to become the biggest and most important international fixture in its field. Celtic Connections International Burns Concert is the perfect platform to begin what is going to be a very exciting year showcasing to the world just what the City of Glasgow and Scotland is made of.”
Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport Shona Robison said: “The Year of Homecoming in 2014 will provide a unique opportunity to encourage more and more visitors, both international and domestic to come and enjoy Scotland and will position Scotland on the international stage as a dynamic and creative nation.
“The events within the Year of Homecoming 2014 culture programme, such as Celtic Connections, will be an inspiring showcase of the best of Scotland that reinforces our international image as a land of creativity and innovation.
“2014 is Scotland’s year to shine.  We are ready to host the greatest Commonwealth Games ever and will be the biggest sporting and cultural event Scotland has ever hosted.
“All those from across the globe with an affinity to Scotland are invited to join in the many celebrations of 2014 when Scotland Welcomes the World.”

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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