By Liam O’Heanai
Celtic Connections is to put Scotland’s rich oral traditions in the spotlight this January as part of a specially commissioned strand of events for the Year of Stories 2022.
Whisper the Song will see a week of five captivating shows featuring storytellers, poets, writers and 20 high-profile musicians, exploring the oral tradition of passing stories down through generations, alongside the creation of exciting new tales.
Inspired by Scotland’s people, places, tales, legends and outstanding natural beauty, the activity is supported by EventScotland as part of the Year of Stories 2022 and will be a whole new chapter in the programme for Europe’s premiere winter festival.
Whisper the Song will allow audiences to immerse themselves in the tradition of storytelling
within music and explore the places, people and cultures connected to these stories.The shows join an already jam-packed and dynamic line up of performances at Celtic
Connections 2022 covering traditional folk, roots, Americana, jazz, soul, indie and world music, taking place in Glasgow from Thursday 20 January to Sunday 6 February 2022.
Scotland’s Year of Stories spotlights, celebrate s and promotes the wealth of stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland.
The following shows will be part of Whisper the Song:
● The Scottish World will look at how tales of Scotland travelled with and were
reimagined by the Diaspora and the influence they had around the world. Taking to
the stage of the Mitchell Theatre, housed within one of Europe’s largest public
libraries the Mitchell Library, writer, performer and broadcaster Billy Kay, singers
Siobhan Miller and Robyn Stapleton and guests, will perform stories, music, poetry
and song. Taking place on Saturday 5 February, the performance will explore
Scotland’s contribution to the world through its greatest export – its people.
● Breathe will highlight global climate change concerns through a collection of stories
from Scotland’s natural world. Following the success of Strathspey Stories at the
Scottish International Storytelling Centre in 2020, this family-friendly show sees
Strathspey composer and multi-instrumentalist Hamish Napier and Scottish
storyteller David Francis team up to explore the differing and developing attitudes to
land management over the centuries. Another show to be held at the Mitchell Theatre
on Saturday 22 January, Hamish and David will be accompanied by a stellar trio of
musicians as they uncover songs and traditional tunes rooted in the land by their
stories and folklore.
● Homage to Home will explore how traditional folk tales, stories and songs are the
last link to the homeland of some new Scots. Scotland-based Jamaican singersongwriter iBrina will be joined by a world-class ensemble of musical friends,
including Gambian kora player Jally Kebba Susso, Ghanaian-born British hybrid
guitarist Nathan Somevi and contemporary Scottish Nigerian singer-songwriter
Bumi Thomas, for a night of dynamism and transcultural expression as she explores
her tale of making Scotland her home. Taking place at Tramway on Saturday 22
January, this event is staged in partnership with BEMIS.
● Sing Me a Story – Cuir Seinn ri Seanchas will see the storytelling tradition of the
Gàidhealtachd championed. Stories, myths and tales of the Gaels passed through
generations that capture their sense of the world and Scotland’s place in it, will be
celebrated in the iconic Mitchell Theatre on Friday 4 February. Allan Henderson,
Margaret Stewart, Ewen Henderson, Sileas Sinclair, Ewan Robertson and
Duncan Chisholm will revisit both humorous and tragic tales of hidden treasure,
fairies, bòcain and more.
● Shetland 550: A Peerie Foy was the first show to be announced as part of the Year
of Stories 2022 and will see acclaimed storytellers and musicians from the Shetland
islands gather at The Old Fruitmarket on Sunday 23 January for a contemporary
concert version of a traditional house ceilidh – or “peerie foy”, in Shetland dialect –
incorporating music, stories and poetry. Part of the festival’s Shetland 550 series of
events marking 550 years since it became part of Scotland, audiences will be able to
delve into tales of the island’s diverse culture, languages, landscapes and ways of
life. Participating artists include Shetland poets Christie Williamson and Christine
de Luca, top island fiddlers Maurice Henderson, Margaret Robertson, Catriona
Macdonald and Chris Stout, young jazz saxophonist Norman Willmore and
audacious harp innovator Catriona McKay, of Fiddlers’ Bid fame.
Donald Shaw, Creative Producer of Celtic Connections, said: “Stories have long been at the heart of traditional music – the word Celt comes from the Germanic word Keltoi meaning ‘secret’, referencing how the Celts never wrote their stories down.
“It seems only fitting that we kick off Scotland’s Year of Stories with a special series of Celtic Connections events celebrating these rich oral traditions, exploring the many tales and legends that formed Scotland’s diverse culture, languages and ways of life.
“We’re proud to be part of such a diverse programme of Scottish events putting storytelling in the spotlight in 2022 and to present our strand, Whisper the Song, for audiences in Glasgow this January. We invite audiences to share in this oral tradition and enjoy stories, old and new, with us.”
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events said: “We are delighted to be supporting Celtic Connections as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022. From icons of literature to local tales, Scotland’s Year of Stories encourages locals and visitors to experience a diversity of voices, take part in events and explore the places, people and cultures connected to all forms of our stories, past and present.
“Celtic Connections will be at the heart of an engaging, celebratory nationwide events programme with their newly commissioned events celebrating Scotland’s rich tradition of stories, interwoven with music, song and film.”
Tickets for Celtic Connections 2022 are on sale now at http://www.celticconnections.com.
The festival will run from Thursday 20 January to Sunday 6 February 2022. Follow the conversation at @ccfest. For the programme line-up and to purchase tickets please go to: http://www.celticconnections.com
The harbour at Oban in Argyll, gateway to the Islands and West Highlands. Picture by Bill Heaney
Celtic Connections began in 1994, when it offered 66 events at one venue. Since then it’s grown more adventurous, experimental and diverse each year and now offers thousands of events in locations across Glasgow.
Celtic Connections is delivered with funding from Glasgow City Council through Glasgow Life. Creative Scotland and The Scottish Government Festivals Expo Fund continue to provide invaluable support to Celtic Connections. A strand of this year’s event – Whisper the Song – is supported by EventScotland as part of the Year of Stories 2022.
The festival is delighted to be sponsored by Caledonian MacBrayne, La Bonne Auberge and Holiday Inn Glasgow Theatreland, Drygate, CalMac and Rathbones. The BBC has supported
Celtic Connections since its first year and the festival is pleased to collaborate once again with them
Glasgow Life is a charity working for the benefit of the people of Glasgow. They believe everyone deserves a great Glasgow life and we find innovative ways to make this happen across the city’s diverse communities.
Their programmes, experiences and events range from grassroots community activities to large-scale cultural, artistic and sporting events which present Glasgow on an international stage.
Their work is designed to promote inclusion, happiness and health, as well as support the city’s visitor
economy, in order to enhance Glasgow’s mental, physical and economic wellbeing. For more information on their work, see http://www.glasgowlife.org.uk
Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland distributing funding provided by the Scottish Government and The National Lottery. Further information at creativescotland.com. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Learn more about the value of art and creativity in Scotland and join in at http://www.ourcreativevoice.scot
Scotland’ s Year of Storie s 2022 will spotlight, celebr ate and promote the wealth of
stories inspired by, written, or create d in Scotland.
Led by VisitScotland, the Year of Stories 2022 will sustain and build upon the momentu m of preceding Themed Years, showcasing a nationwide progra m m e of major events and community celebrations.
From icons of literature to local tales, Scotland’s Year of Stories encourage s locals and visitors to experienc e a diversity of voices, take part in events and explore the places, people and culture s connecte d to all forms of our stories, past and present.
Scotland’s Year of Stories will encoura g e responsible engage m e n t and inclusive participation from the people of Scotland and our visitors.
Join the conversation using #YS2022 and #TalesOfScotland. Following an industry consultation, Themed Years will take place every second year.