Below is a write up I did for a blog dedicated to the partnership I was involved in. It contains a little info on this partnership, my experience over there and a few photos. For more check out: www.ncf-fr-cc.blogspot.com.au/
As a harpist in Australia my opportunities to learn from and perform with other 'folk harpists' is limited. The harp is a rare instrument, while there are many positives associated with this, performers of such instruments must be persistence and have a thirst to search out knowledge. Consequently, finding a project that brings wonderful clarsach players to your front door is gold! I have learnt much from these one week yearly encounters.
Feis Rois 2014 collaboration was exceptional. Another four talented young musicians came over from Scotland, representing Feis Rois, along with two musicians from Canada sponsored by Celtic Colours International Festival. Fiona Dalgety commissioned the composer and accordionist John Somerville to write The Hector Suite, a piece inspired by the Hector's journey from Scotland to Nova Scotia in 1773. I had the privilege of learning this beautiful 40 minute piece from John and performing it with my fellow Australians, Scots and Canadians at the National Celtic Festival.
A few months later the project and piece was taken to Celtic Colours in Cape Breton; it was now their turn to host the project. To my surprise and excitement I was asked to attend the festival and work on the project again. Now I was representing the National Celtic Festival and Australia. It was quite a surreal experience.
Celtic Colours is located in Cape Breton, an island on the east coast of Nova Scotia. The festival is like nothing I'd experienced before. It ran for 8 days and was spread across the whole of Cape Breton with venues in many of the towns. It takes about 3 hours to drive around Cape Breton, so most days involved a long car ride to attend concerts. With little or no public transport, the festival has tackled the geographical logistics with an amazing transport service for performers. The drivers' enthusiasm was infectious, as was that of the entire community whose support is the heart of Celtic Colours.
It was amazing to experience the richness of Celtic culture and traditions on this tiny island off the east coast of Canada, where Scottish culture has grown and developed over 200 years from the initial settlers who risked everything in search of a better life. The journey to a new world is the inspiration behind The Hector Suite..
The eight-day trip was a wonderful opportunity to reunite with past collaborators and meet an amazing bunch of new Canadian collaborators.. We had a number of performances, but the highlight for me was performing The Hector Suite at Pictou – the birthplace of New Scotland where the Hector landed in 1773. Just before the concert, we were taken on a backstage tour of the Hector Heritage Museum and replica. This gave a new vitality to the story and made me realise its significance to Pictou and Nova Scotia.
I feel very fortunate to be involved in this project and the cultural exchange it facilitates. I especially loved The Hector Suite and am grateful for the opportunity to perform with amazing musicians in Australia and Canada. These partnerships are important for the continuation and growth of Celtic music and culture, especially among Scottish diasporas. The National Celtic Festival, Feis Rois and Celtic Colours are exceptional cultural ambassadors that perform an essential role in forging and maintaining a partnership that gives young musicians fantastic experiences and global connections.