International music fans have snapped up all tickets for a concert showcasing Hebridean music and culture at Europe’s biggest Celtic festival in France this week.
The islands’ language, culture and heritage will play a leading role when Scotland is celebrated at the annual Lorient Interceltic Festival being held from 4-13 August in Brittany.
Scotland is this year’s Guest Country of Honour at the gathering, and a team from the award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival is organising the opening concert on 5 August, which will kick start a number of events featuring Scottish artists throughout the ten days.
The sell-out show at the 1,038-seat venue, comes just two weeks after the end of this year’s HebCelt, which was one of the most successful in the event’s 22-year history.
HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan said: “We are thrilled the opening show at Lorient is a sell-out. It is such a wonderful opportunity to promote the music and culture of the festival and the islands to a huge international audience.
“It is great news, coming on the back of such a successful HebCelt. It’s been a major challenge organising two events simultaneously, but it has also been very rewarding. And we could see the benefits of cultural tourism from this for years to come.”
More than 750,000 visitors and spectators will attend the Lorient festival, when Brittany meets other Celtic nations and regions including Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man, Galicia, Asturias, Acadia and Australia.
It offers an unprecedented opportunity to highlight the diversity and quality of Scotland’s finest musical talent on the inter-national stage.
The largest showcase for traditional Scottish music in mainland Europe, the festival will see performances from over 220 Scottish artists.
This accounts for more than 20 per cent of the festival programme, which is the largest share for one country of honour ever.
HebCelt was invited to take part and curate the opening Guest Country of Honour show by Showcase Scotland Expo, which promotes Scottish-based artists in folk, Gaelic, traditional, world and acoustic music to overseas music events. The show has a strong Gaelic focus and will feature a number of artists who took part in this year’s HebCelt.
The curtain-raising show will include an excerpt from the documentary ‘Hebrides - Islands on the Edge’, the music for which was composed by Capercaillie’s Donald Shaw.
Some of the leading Hebridean artists in the modern era will come together for ‘Blasta’ (Gaelic for tasty or delicious), a show specially commissioned for this year’s Lorient festival and featuring Gaelic singers Anna Murray, Mischa Macpherson, Ceitlin Smith and Josie Duncan, from the isle of Lewis.
Also performing during the opening show are the Mishca Macpherson Trio, Tide Lines and Elephant Sessions.
In addition, HebCelt has its own pavilion at Lorient. With assistance from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Outer Hebrides Tourism and An Lanntair arts centre, the stand will be used to promote HebCelt and its host area as a cultural and tourism destination and will offer festival goers the opportunity to enter a competition to win travel and accommodation to the Outer Hebrides.