By Donna Faye
Get in touch with your inner Celt and step dance into the summer solstice with traditional Scottish, Irish, French Canadian, and Cape Breton music at the Canadian Celtic Celebration. Organizers Pierre Schryer and Merrie Klazek promise a fresh take on this annual event, now in its 14th year, featuring new guest artists including Celtic singer Emily Flack, Quebec guitarist Colin Savoie-Levac, Cape Breton fiddler Mairi Rankin, Highland piper Ross Griffiths, and multi-instrumentalist Duncan Cameron.
The guests will join Schryer, internationally renowned fiddler, and Klazek, principal trumpet with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, for three days of dancing, singing, workshops, and a feature concert performance on Sunday. “The performance on Sunday is unique,” says Klazek. “We have these individual artists from across Canada performing together on stage. It’s literally a one-time opportunity to see this particular group collaborate and perform together.”
The festival kicks off on Friday with a Ceilidh Dance. A master caller teaches the steps so beginners are encouraged to join in and you don’t even need a partner. “It’s great to see everyone from 5 to 85 laughing and dancing together,” says Klazek. On Saturday, the festival offers a comprehensive array of workshops on everything from Cape Breton and Ottawa Valley step dance to playing Celtic instruments like the uilleann pipes and the bodhrán, and Cameron will lead a discussion on how traditional ballads reflect social issues from the times they were written, as well as today. Saturday night features a jam session, a free event that is open to community musicians. “It’s a good vibe,” says Klazek. “It’s kind of a rehearsal for the feature concert on Sunday.”
Klazek explains the appeal of Celtic music here and across the country. “The feel-good instrumental music of traditional Celtic jigs and reels is so uplifting. People are transported to a place where they feel happy. And then the melancholy, beautiful, haunting, sweet ballads evoke the landscapes and the vastness of the British Isles, Eastern Canada, and really all of Canada.”
The Walleye is proud to sponsor the Canadian Celtic Celebration. For more information, visit canadiancelticcelebration.com.