HebCelt gig at international Celtic festival a sell-out

View of HebCelt. Picture: Colin Cameron/Supplied
View of HebCelt. Picture: Colin Cameron/Supplied
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INTERNATIONAL music fans have snapped up all tickets for a concert showcasing Hebridean music and culture at Europe’s biggest Celtic festival in France.

The islands’ language, culture and heritage will play a leading role when Scotland is celebrated at the annual Lorient Interceltic Festival being held from 4-13 August in Brittany.

Scotland is this year’s Guest Country of Honour at the gathering, and a team from the award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival is organising the opening concert on 5 August, which will kick start a number of events featuring Scottish artists throughout the ten days.

The sell-out show at the 1,038-seat venue, comes just two weeks after the end of this year’s HebCelt, which was one of the most successful in the event’s 22-year history.

READ MORE: Successful 2017 HebCelt injects economic boost to isles

Headlined by The Waterboys, Imelda May, Dougie MacLean and Lucy Spraggan, the festival featured more than 40 acts and over 70 hours of performances in the main arena, in Stornoway town centre and in sell-out community shows in Lewis and Harris, reaching nearly 16,000 attendances over its four-day run.

HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan said: “We are thrilled the opening show at Lorient is a sell-out. It is such a wonderful opportunity to promote the music and culture of the festival and the islands to a huge international audience.

“It is great news, coming on the back of such a successful HebCelt. It’s been a major challenge organising two events simultaneously, but it has also been very rewarding. And we could see the benefits of cultural tourism from this for years to come.”

More than 750,000 visitors and spectators will attend the Lorient festival, when Brittany meets other Celtic nations and regions including Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man, Galicia, Asturias, Acadia and Australia. It offers an unprecedented opportunity to highlight the diversity and quality of Scotland’s finest musical talent on the inter-national stage.

The largest showcase for traditional Scottish music in mainland Europe, the festival will see performances from over 220 Scottish artists. This accounts for more than 20 per cent of the festival programme, which is the largest share for one country of honour ever.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said: “For Scotland to be chosen as Guest Country of Honour by the Lorient Interceltic Festival further cements our important relationship with France. Our prominence at one of the world’s biggest Celtic festivals is an excellent opportunity to showcase the spirit of Scotland, as we celebrate our Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

READ MORE: HebCelt music festival boosts isles economy by £20m

“Over 220 of Scotland’s finest musicians are performing at this year’s festival – representing emerging young talent and firmly established acts – and are sure to delight existing fans and create new ones.

“I have no doubt that HebCelt will put on an exciting opening concert and the fact it’s already sold out is a sure sign that the Scots are firmly putting their stamp on Lorient Interceltic Festival 2017.”

Alan Morrison, Head of Music, Creative Scotland, added: “A sell-out show at Lorient Interceltic Festival is a brilliant way to carry forward the momentum from HebCelt’s success on Lewis and Harris just a few weeks ago.

“Energy levels will still be high, so there couldn’t be a better way to kickstart Scotland’s year as Guest Country of Honour than with this opening concert. French audiences will be talking about Scottish trad and folk talent for years to come.”

HebCelt was invited to take part and curate the opening Guest Country of Honour show by Showcase Scotland Expo, which promotes Scottish-based artists in folk, Gaelic, traditional, world and acoustic music to overseas music events. The show has a strong Gaelic focus and will feature a number of artists who took part in this year’s HebCelt.

The curtain-raising show will include an excerpt from the documentary ‘Hebrides - Islands on the Edge’, the music for which was composed by Capercaillie’s Donald Shaw.

Some of the leading Hebridean artists in the modern era will come together for ‘Blasta’ (Gaelic for tasty or delicious), a show specially commissioned for this year’s Lorient festival and featuring Gaelic singers Anna Murray, Mischa Macpherson, Ceitlin Smith and Josie Duncan, from the isle of Lewis.

Also performing during the opening show are the Mishca Macpherson Trio, Tide Lines and Elephant Sessions.

In addition, HebCelt has its own pavilion at Lorient. With assistance from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Outer Hebrides Tourism and An Lanntair arts centre, the stand will be used to promote HebCelt and its host area as a cultural and tourism destination and will offer festival goers the opportunity to enter a competition to win travel and accommodation to the Outer Hebrides.

Lisardo Lombardo, the Lorient festival’s artistic director, said: “Lorient will become in 2017 a window for the discovery of Scotland today, more involved and modern than ever. The whole city will be put in Scottish colours and all our capacity of media resonance will be made available to show that this great European nation will always have a place of honour at the Interceltic Festival of Lorient.

READ MORE: Future of Gaelic in Scotland is ‘in hands of parents’

“We are sure that the opening show will be a great event, very well organised, with artists representative of a living tradition and a new talented generation that will become a reference in Scotland and all over the world.”

HebCelt has grown from a small event attracting less than 1,000 fans, to an international showpiece for roots, Celtic and traditional music. It is estimated it has generated nearly £25 million for the local economy over 22 years.

Scotland’s presence at Lorient is curated and produced by Showcase Scotland Expo in partnership with Creative Scotland, VisitScotland, the Scottish Government, Hebridean Celtic Festival, Scottish Music Centre, Fèis Rois, British Council, Traditional Arts & Culture Scotland (TRACS)/Traditional Music Forum, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Traditional Music and Song Association.

The Gala Opening Concert will feature an all-Scottish line-up produced by the award winning Hebridean Celtic Festival, and a special Grand Night of Scotland concert is being curated by Artistic Director of Scotland’s premiere international music festival Celtic Connections, Donald Shaw.

Top pipers, Andrew Frater, Ian Duncan, Isle of Cumbrae Pipe Band and Methil & District Pipe Band will join The Grand Parade of Celtic.

Amy McDonald, Blazin’ Fiddles, Elephant Sessions, Fara and Talisk are amongst the many renowned musicians set to perform across the festival. Scotland’s emerging talent is also featured with performances from the TMSA Young Trad Tour and Fèis Rois Ceilidh Trail; and Gaelic language, music and culture is placed firmly at the heart of the festival with sets from Runrig, Capercaillie, Breabach, Hò-rò and Tide Lines, and many more.

The designated Scotland Pavilion will welcome visitors with a daily, live music programme, high quality Celtic influenced food, drink and crafts from across the country and ceilidh dancing! The Pavilion also provides the opportunity for music promoters, programmers, label bosses and agents to meet artists and their representatives.

See full programme details here: http://www.scotland.org/whats-on/celtic-festivals/lorient-festival

In addition to an exceptional programme of live music, festival-goers can enjoy a special Scottish film programme, including the stunning Scottish feature doc, From Scotland With Love by award winning director Virginia Heath and music by King Creosote, The Outer Hebrides, a documentary produced by arte, and Brave the Disney•Pixar’s Oscar-winning animated adventure by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman.