Opening Concert: Common Ground
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Wed 16 Jan
Celtic Connections will launch this year with what artistic consultant Donald Shaw likens to a giant session. Common Ground will be led on stage by John McCusker, and will feature a host of big name Scottish and Irish musicians, including the likes of Karine Polwart, Kris Drever, Mike Scott, Sharon Shannon, Karan Casey, Luka Bloom and Michael McGoldrick.
The concert follows last year’s similarly conceived Hands Across the Water project. Donald Shaw explained his reasons for choosing this model rather than another of the large-scale commissions that have opened the festival in past years, with mixed results.
‘Although we didn’t want to make a big deal of the fact that the festival is 15 years old this year, we did fancy the idea of making the opening night at least partly a kind of big birthday bash. We felt this was a bit more in keeping with the spirit of the festival than a posh night with an orchestra and so on.
‘That’s not to say that we won’t do that again, but I felt that the sense of camaraderie and collaboration in Hands Across the Water worked really well, and all of the players are used to entering into the spirit of a session, which is what we are after on a grand scale here.’
The focus on Scottish and Irish artists ensures the common ground of the title, and the fact that everyone on the stage will know each other, and have probably worked together at some point, should make for a highly compatible night. John McCusker was an obvious candidate to co-direct the project with Donald, and will be responsible for keeping order on what promises to be a busy night for on stage traffic.