Enora Morice.
Enora Morice.

Female pipers are to be showcased at next year’s Celtic Connections festival. Among those taking part in the ‘Celebration of Women in Piping’ concert are highland pipers Enora Morice from Brittany (ex-Shotts), Robyn Ada McKay (SLoT), and South Uist’s Alana MacInnes.

McKay is recent graduate from the Piping Degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland while Morice completed a Masters in Music – Piping from the RCS. MacInnes recently finished a Gàidhlig and Music degree at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on the Isle of Skye.

Also taking part in the cross cultural first – on the evening of January 19 in the Strathclyde Suite of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall – are Uillean pipers Louise Mulcahy from Co. Limerick, Síle Friel from Glasgow, Cork-born Máire Ní Ghráda and Marion McCarthy from Co. Clare.

James Duncan MacKenzie of Breabach.
James Duncan MacKenzie of Breabach.

The festival also includes the multi-award-winning Scottish folk band, Breabach, which features James Duncan MacKenzie, this year’s Northern Meeting Silver Medal winner. The band commands prime billing in the Main Auditorium of Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on January 17 at 7.30pm.

The opening concert also takes place in the Main Auditorium (7.30pm on January 16) and sees the world premiere of a new orchestral symphony inspired by the Declaration of Arbroath. Comprised of six brand new pieces by leading Scottish composers, it was commissioned for the 2020 festival with backing from the Scottish Government’s Festival Expo Fund to mark next year’s 700th anniversary of the 1320 declaration of Scottish independence. All six pieces will be performed by the Grit Orchestra, a now legendary ensemble of folk, jazz and classical musicians led by conductor/arranger Greg Lawson.

Grit Orchestra conductor/arranger Greg Lawson said the new work would interpret the concept of freedom expressed in the declaration within a modern context. “To be really free we need to be equal, we need to be diverse, we need to be open, we need to care. You could say we are taking the declaration and turning it into an appeal: for tolerance, diversity, openness, respect. That’s what freedom actually means.”

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The Grit Orchestra was founded to continue the legacy of the late Scots-Canadian piper and multi-instrumentalist, Martyn Bennett. Edinburgh-based piper Fraser Fifield has composed one of the six pieces.

In addition, Jarlath Henderson, the piper and multi-instrumentalist from Tyrone, features in Celtic Connections’ Burns Night concert on January 23.

The festival will run from Thursday, January 16 to Sunday, February 2, 2020.

The full programme can be found at: www.celticconnections.com

Members of the Grit Orchestra with, centre, Greg Lawson.
Members of the Grit Orchestra with, centre, Greg Lawson, yesterday.