Low numbers but high spirits as Lorient marks its 50th

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By Tom Johnstone, Scottish Delegate of the Lorient Interceltique Festival

The 50th Lorient Interceltique Festival has gone ahead despite COVID-19. Strict measures have been put in place whereby anyone entering the festival area or venues must produce a certificate – a ‘Pass Sanitaire’ – to prove the person is COVID-free. There are long queues at the test centre for these free tests.

The Scottish delegation this year has no pipe bands, dancers, solo pipers or folk groups. One folk group was scheduled to come but had to pull out due to vaccination status.

The Grande Parade, held on the first Sunday, took place but was confined to the Stade du Moustoir rather than the town’s main boulevard. The previous day saw the bagadoù show in which many bagads partipated. This year, all concerts are taking place in just two venues: the Espace Marine and a large stage behind the Palais de Congres.

Tom Johnstone piping for his daughter, Alice, during a reception held in Lorient Town Hall on Monday.

On Monday evening a new composition in honour of the festival was played by a full orchestra. It featured Ross Ainslie and two Spanish pipers. The climax of the piece featured a full bagad playing along with the orchestra.

On Tuesday evening Sharon Shannon performed followed by two Scots, Calum Stewart on uillean pipes and Ross Ainslie on whistle.

Although numbers are down to under 50%, the spirit is still there – and the music and dance are still present at a high level!

Ross Ainsli and Calum Stewart back stage on Tuesday night.