Island talents on Celtic Connections stage

Miss Irenie Rose performs at Celtic Connections 2014
Miss Irenie Rose performs at Celtic Connections 2014

Pslam singing takes centre stage at Celtic Connections 2014 as the Lewis Psalm Singers join with India’s KM Hindustani Ensemble.

Starting today (Thursday, January 16th) and running until February 2nd, the Glasgow based festival – the UK’s premier celebration of Celtic music – will see 2,100 artist perform 300 events in 20 venues around the city.

And on February 1st it’s the turn of the Lewis Psalm Singers, lead by long-term precentor Calum Martin.

The choir, made up of singers from both the Islands and Highlands, share their performance with the KM Hindustani Ensemble, a group founded by world-renowned Indian composer and musician AR Rahman, responsible for the music of hit-film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.

Selected from the KM Music Conservatory in Chennai, the Hindustani Ensemble, featuring up to 20 singers, seeks to revive ancient choral styles of raag singing, vibrantly interwoven with instrumentation, including piano and violin.

Raag uses a series of five or more musical notes upon which a melody is constructed, but the way the notes are approached and rendered in musical phrases and the mood they convey are more important in defining the style than the notes themselves.

Indian classical music is always set in raag and much Indian music, as with Scottish Gaelic Psalm singing, remains, at its heart, a mode of worship rather than performance.

Looking forward to the combination of cultures is Lewis Psalm Singers precentor Calum, who said: “It’s going to be good fun.

“The Psalm singing is such a unique things and its seems ironic that while people up here are turning away from it, there’s a huge appreciation and interest in it outside church life elsewhere.”

Calum added that he will be travelling a few days earlier to Glasgow to collaborate with the Hindustani Ensemble and teach choir members a Gaelic Psalm as, although both choirs will give separate performance on the night (Saturday, February 1st), members will join for a Gaelic Psalm finale.

Lewis Psalm Singers collective came together around 10 years ago to produce an album as a fundraiser for Bethesda Care Home and Hospice in Stornoway. There have since been three albums in total and the group have toured in Ireland amongst other places over the past few years.

Any monies raised by CD sales are passed onto Bethesda, and any performance fee – as will the Celtic Connections payment – is also donated to the local care home.

Also performing at this year’s festival are island talents Colin Macleod and Miss Irenie Rose, with a joint gig in St Andrew’s in the Square on January 23rd.

Having returned to music last year with the launch of his well received ‘Anchor’ EP and since been signed to Highlands-based Middle of Nowhere Recordings – home to Rachel Sermanni and Pete Roe amongst others – and completed his first tour of Sweden, Colin is excited to be given the Celtic Connection platform.

And having moved to Glasgow a year ago to concentrate on her music, Miss Irenie Rose feels the same, as she said: “I’m definitely pleased to have been asked to be part of Celtic Connections, it feels like I’m honoured to be included.

“And I’m very much looking forward to share the stage with Colin, he’d a great musician and part of the island music scene that’s very much feels like my musical family.”

There will also be a variety of performances from a number of Western Isles talents at Celtic Connections 2014, including Julie Fowlis, Alyth McCormak, Ceitlin LR Smith, Face the West, Gillebride Macmillan; Kathleen MacInnes; Norrie Maciver; Mairi MacInnes; Mischa Macpherson; Cathy Ann MacPhee; Seonaidh MacIntyre and James Duncan Mackenzie.
To find out more about Celtic Connections 2014, visit