Tribute night for Celtic music star

A CONCERT celebrating the life and work of Celtic music star Martyn Bennett is set to be held in the Capital.

Musicians from around the world are expected to flock to the Queen’s Hall to pay tribute to the gifted Edinburgh multi-instrumentalist, who died last month aged 33 after a four-year battle with cancer.

Bennett’s friends and family, including his wife Kirsten, have organised the event, proceeds from which will go to Edinburgh’s Marie Curie Hospital, where he died in January, and a cancer hospice on the Isle of Lewis.

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They also unveiled plans today for a major trust fund set up in Bennett’s memory to help young musicians, composers and producers further their careers.

All 800 tickets for the tribute concert, which will also feature archive video footage of Bennett performing, are being predicted to sell out well in advance.

Details of who will be appearing at the April 15 show are expected to be unveiled in the next few weeks, although tickets priced 15 will go on sale within days.

The concert is set to feature some of Bennett’s favourite musicians, as well as acts inspired by his own talents as a performer, producer and composer.

Already confirmed are Fred Morrison, one of Scotland’s top-rated pipers and a close friend of Bennett, the young Celtic band Croft No. Five, who cite him as one of their biggest influences, and Edinburgh DJ Dolphin Boy.

The BBC presenter and musician Mary Anne Kennedy has agreed to act as a compere and pupils from the specialist music school at Edinburgh’s Broughton High School, where Bennett studied as a youngster, will be appearing.

Peter Gabriel’s Real World record label, which released Bennett’s last album, is expected to be heavily represented at the event, which will also feature performances from Bennett’s mother, Margaret, a renowned folk singer, and his wife, who performed on stage with him in his band Cuillin.

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A spokeswoman for the Queen’s Hall said: "The evening will celebrate the music of the innovative multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer who was considered one of Scotland’s brightest, most inspired and original artists.

"Musicians from every genre will gather to perform his work and, through a range of new and eclectic collaborations, interpret both the music which inspired Martyn and that which he influenced."

Bennett shot to fame in the mid-1990s for his fusion of traditional folk with house, hip-hop and dance music. Born in Newfoundland, Canada, he spent much of his life in Edinburgh.

Career highlights included performing at the world premiere of Braveheart at Stirling Castle, and a gig in front of 10,000 people on the Castle Esplanade during Edinburgh’s Millennium Hogmanay celebrations.

Bennett, dubbed Scotland’s "techno piper", was diagnosed with the cancer Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2000, but he still released two critically-acclaimed albums, Glen Lyon and Grit.

Chris McCulloch, a close friend of Bennett and one of the organisers of both the concert and trust fund, said:

"The whole night has been put together by Martyn’s friends and family and we hope the programme that is being put together will capture his spirit.

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"Martyn spent an awful lot of time working with young people over the years and that’s why we wanted to set up the trust fund." The trust fund will see grants of several thousand pounds made available to help 12 to 25-year-olds across Scotland pursue their studies, buy musical instruments, compose new music, and take part in international exchanges.

Lisa Whytock, Bennett’s agent, said: "There’s going to be a multitude of performers on the night, including many special guests.

It’s going to be an absolutely fantastic night. I don’t think there’s any doubt it’ll sell out."