18 Jan - 4 Feb 2024

Education at the heart of world-renowned festival

The Celtic Connections’ Education Programme is back with an array of in-person opportunities for all ages.

Celtic Connections, Europe's premier folk and roots music festival, presents its renowned education programme in person for the first time since January 2020. With school concerts, a special 30th edition gig and an array of workshops, the festival’s education programme continues to inspire the next generation of musicians and music lovers alike.

Since it started in 1999 over 200,000 children from all over Scotland have benefited from the programme, including some of the professional musicians we see on stages across the festival today.

Over 6000 children from across Scotland will attend three free schools concerts at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall this winter.

The incredible Peat & Diesel showcase their award-winning live performance to thousands of school children on Friday 20th January. The Stornoway 3-piece have gone from playing sessions at their local pub to becoming world-famous across social media and on the UK touring circuit. Opening for Peat & Diesel are Ron Jappy and Rachel Hair who perform an exciting array of traditional tunes on clarsach and guitar.

Québec’s Le Vent Du Nord entertain the young crowds with their high energy and rocking performance. Although rooted in the Celtic diaspora, Le Vent Du Nord’s sound has a vast range of global influences and their incomparable live performance at previous school concerts has had teachers and pupils dancing in the aisles. Opening this show are the St Roch’s Céilí Band. Formed over 40 years ago by Frank McArdle as a lunchtime club in a Royston secondary school, this organisation is now responsible for teaching traditional music to hundreds of children across Glasgow.

The third and final schools concert is a joint celebration that marks Celtic Connections’ 30th edition but also its pioneering education programme. Over 30 young musicians come together from regions across Scotland, showcasing their home traditions before premièring a brand-new ensemble composition by Treacherous Orchestra co-founder John Somerville.

John Somerville, said: “The Celtic Connections education programme has always been the jewel in the crown of the festival, not only does it inspire future generations of musicians but it also gives young people the opportunity to experience live music in an incredible setting like the Glasgow Royal Concert hall - an opportunity they may not have had otherwise.

“Playing a Celtic Connections schools concert to thousands of kids is absolutely unforgettable, you will never hear cheers like it or feel an energy similar, you literally feel how Ed Sheeran must feel walking out onto that stage and I can’t wait for the thirty young musicians with me on this bill to feel the same.”

Joining John and the young musicians on the final schools concert are Scottish super group Session A9 who delight young audiences with their high-energy, rocking performance.

In addition to this series of concerts, there are also a series of taster workshops taking place in schools across Glasgow. Professional Celtic musicians introduce a variety of traditional means of expression to children, including Scots and Gaelic song, piping demonstrations and workshops, Scottish step dance, alongside instrumental tuition featuring the tin whistle, bodhran, fiddle and clarsach. These workshops are all delivered free of charge and are completely inclusive.

There are also a host of weekend workshops for the whole family to enjoy throughout the festival, these include Gaelic, Gospel and Scots song, as well as a family ceilidh that takes place in the beautiful surroundings of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall also host weekend workshops for all ages, including music workshops for guitar, strings, ukulele, mandolin, accordion and banjo.

For pre-school ages and babies, there are the very special Moon Dragon classes. These interactive workshops carry their young audience on a journey of discovery as they watch and interact with Bertie the Moon Dragon, Mrs Unicorn, the Owls and Frogs all trying to find the Moon and to get him to rise in time for the night. Rachel Huggins and Corrina Hewat bring live music together with catchy tunes, magical storytelling and the simple but effective story of Bertie the Moon Dragon to young audiences.

Celtic Connections takes place between Thursday 19th January – Sunday 5th February 2023. The internationally renowned event marks its 30th edition with an exciting and varied programme of music. Over the course of the 18-day event, thousands of musicians perform at venues across the city with concerts and performances spanning traditional folk, roots, Americana, jazz, soul and world music.

Tickets for Celtic Connections 2023 are available from www.celticconnections.com.