The eighth Celtic Harmonies festival is upon us, October 5 to 13. The biennial nine-day celebration of music, culture and dance with the finest musicians from Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, United States, Quebec and our Atlantic East coast is set for multiple locations in Knowlton, plus single events in Mansonville and Waterloo. It begins at Theatre Lac Brome with The Winds of Erin, starring Ronan Browne, the original uilleann piper of Riverdance and Afro Celtic Sound System; Desi Wilkinson, a wizard of the traditional
Irish timber flute; and Séan Corcoran, Irish bouzouki player and one of the country’s greatest singers. They are joined by Quebec stepdancer Pierre Chartrand and musicians Alexis Chartrand and Timi Turmel.
It ends in the big hall at Waterloo’s Maison de la Culture with A World Without Borders, featuring 16 musicians from around the world, brought together by Montreal multi-talent Dave Gossage and performing both traditional and contemporary Celtic music with voices, fiddles, guitars, harp, flute, accordion, bodran, bones and old-fashioned foot stomp- ing, plus kora from Senegal, nyckelharpa from Sweden, Indian tabla and the elemental, fierce music of the Roma.
In between, practically everything, each and every night, with fascinating workshops during the day and an exhibit celebrating nature by local artists at England Hill.
Those who know and love this evocative music will recognize names like Richard Wood and Gordon Belsher from P.E.I.; Ryan McKasson, Eric McDonald and Jeremiah McLane, from the U.S.; Scotland’s Cathy Anne MacPhee and Tony McManus; Keith Murphy from Newfoundland; Genticorum from Quebec; Tony McManus from Scotland and Germany’s Julia Toaspern; and World Without Borders’ Dan Armeana from Roumania, Sergiu Popa from Moldavia and Zal Sissokho from Senegal.
These and many, many others have been brought together by festival co-ordinator April O’Donoughue, from her global headquarters in beautiful downtown Mansonville.
“The line-up is really exciting, and I hope I get to see some of it,” the exhausted organizer said recently. “More people are wanting lots of tickets. A man from Magog is bringing five relatives from France and musician Rowan Browne is bringing his family, and spending more money on airfare than he is making from his show.
And that’s because they don’t see this festival as just another gig. In the small world of Celtic music they see it as a gathering in a lovely part of the world with friends who have this magic music and culture in common.”
For more of everything about Celtic Harmonies, go to celticharmonies.ca and pick up the informative brochure wherever brochures can be found.