Celtic Connections 2021: Dreamers Circus with Kathleen Maclinnes, Imar, Rajasthan

Various venues
23rd Jan

This evening’s Celtic Connections kicked off with a film from Copenhagen with Dreamer Circus, a Band from Denmark & Sweden. This three-man ensemble (accordion, fiddle and lute) set the stage for something really interesting with a soft expression of music of century’s old style classical blended with traditional folk.

In the aesthetics alone the wood of the instruments set a rich tone, especially in their phenomenally capable hands. They went straight into their second set which was called ‘Pentamime’, when they swapped guitar for piano. Capturing the sounds again and again as they took to a little experimentation with the themes of traditional music. Striking with the violin to delve deeper into its creative sounds. The bass piano tumbled on into a riff to catch our attention.

They went on to play five or so songs, all worthy of our attention and leaving us with a song called ‘A Room in Paris’; the City of Romance, it took all of the evening’s entertainment and put it all together in a short song that resembled mixed genres of music, this act was loveable.

Then the wonderful tones of Kathleen Macinnes paved the way for another outreaching moment of Gaelic splendour in the City Halls. Her song ‘Mo Renl Geal Chioin’ needed only 3 performers of vocals, piano and violin. In a flowery black dress set off in front of the large Celtic Connections banner the performance began softly and slowly with a sprinkling of sadness in her voice, her 3-song set of all Gaelic language lyrics had a poise to it even in its simplicity of numbers. In her 2nd number called ‘Mary weep no more/Till an Crodh’ we knew a little of what she was singing about.

Glasgow University Chapel came to life for the performance of Imar’s ‘Deep Blue’. We were entertained with a purely instrumental set performed by this 5-man band on the bodhran, pipes and guitar… Steeped in the Celtic traditional music of the hour, it felt beyond any kind of restrictive emotions rather transcending such living things while in-depth interactions were key. Making stories run thick and fast.

We were then transported to a great Eastern city (not sure which one) where a group of eight performers sat cross legged in a semi-circle, dressed in magnificent Indian attire of white or bright colours and plenty of jewellery. The sky behind them was the dark before dawn.

A lone female vocal immediately took hold of us and began singing as dawn appeared on the horizon. Then Asin Khan performed on a sindi sarangi, a bow stringed instrument sounding a little like a violin, as the sunrise revealed the city behind their rugs and fineries. The music played on regardless in a 25-minute meditation, exploring amazing and compelling interactions between the artist, writer and audience.

All so rich and powerful and inclusive, in the true spirit in which Celtic Connections thrives – the writing and sharing of glorious music that remains a universal worldwide language.

Daniel Donnolly



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