Watch: Music and dance returns to Glasgow's iconic Hydro arena for the first time since closure for Celtic Connections farewell

Performers have returned to Glasgow’s iconic indoor arena for the first time since it was closed to the public in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The SSE Hydro was reopened for the filming of a special music and dance sequence to mark the end of an online edition of the city’s world-famous Celtic Connections festival.

Hazel Whyte, a member of the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland. became the first musician to perform again in the 14,300-capacity arena, which was forced to shut down last March just months after being named the world’s second busiest venue.

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Whyte, who played the tunes Hector the Hero and The Bloody Fields of Flanders, was joined by dancers Jamiel Laurence and Katie Miller for a sequence filmed on the floor of the venue’s main auditorium.

Their performance was broadcast on the final night of the “digital first” version of the festival, which was funded by the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland and Glasgow City Council.

The SSE Hydro is the biggest venue at the Scottish Event Campus, part of which has been transformed into the NHS Louisa Jordan complex during the pandemic.

Peter Duthie, the SEC’s chief executive officer, said: “We were delighted to support Celtic Connections’ digital programme this year and pleased to play our part in the continued success of such a fantastic event.”

The City Chambers, the Royal Concert Hall, the Old Fruitmarket, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the City Halls and St Luke’s were all used for filming performances.

More than 30 different performances were broadcast by the festival across its 19 days, including several overseas locations, such as Mali, Sudan, Nashville and Rajasthan.

Organisers said 27,000 tickets and full-festival passes were sold to fans in more than 60 countries.

Creative producer Donald Shaw said: “The last 19 days have instilled in us all a renewed sense of hope and optimism.

“Sharing our music and our culture will continue to be an essential part of our human existence and it has been incredible to be able to facilitate this, despite the challenges.

Piper Hazel Whyte is the first musician to perform at the Hydro arena in Glasgow since the venue was closed to the public last March.

“The feedback we have had really shows just how important music is to people and we are delighted to have been able to help in some way brighten up the darkest January in recent history.”

Depute council leader David McDonald said: “Night after night we were reminded about what makes Celtic Connections unique and even though we weren’t physically together to enjoy it, everyone who watched or performed or worked to deliver the festival was a crucial part of its success.

“That so many people around the world wanted to watch demonstrates again just how important and popular it is.”

Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “All of the musicians who have performed this year have brought joy and brightness to many through the dark winter, giving audiences the chance to enjoy the sheer talent of their music and performances.

Hazel Whyte performs with the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland.

“It is fantastic to see the festival reach many more audiences, with viewers tuning in from 60 countries, and also getting the opportunity to see iconic parts of Glasgow and the rest of Scotland in the films on show.

“This digital innovation, combined with responsible remote filming, allowed for the safe international exchanges and collaborations that continue to put Celtic Connections high up on the international music festival scene.”

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Joy Yates

Jamiel Laurence and Katie Miller joined piper Hazel Whyte in a specially created performance at the SSE Hydro to mark the end of the digital edition of Celtic Connections.

Editorial Director

The SSE Hydro in Glasgow normally attracts more than 1.1 million visitors a year.
The Royal Concert Hall was among the venues reopened for the digital incarnation of Celtic Connections.
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