Celtic visual arts were well represented with two exhibitions in 1997. This strand is now prominently featured in the festival today with the introduction in 2004 of our art trail which features the best in Scottish art in venues across the city.
Faces on the Edge was the work of photographer Craig McKay from Sutherland. Shown in the lower foyers of The Concert Hall for the duration of the festival, the exhibition depicted well known people who live and work in Scotland. 35 musicians, writers, artists and personalities were involved in the project.
La Bottine Sourainte
Billy Bragg and Dick Gaughan
Old Blind Dogs
Iris De Ment
Waterson and Carthy
Celtic Connections, from the modest beginnings, has become a runaway success on its patch because it is sharply focused and well marketed…The Herald
Celtic Connections… a festival which combined international artists with the profoundly local variety, which builds audiences year on year, which married imaginative billing to cultural accessibility but which still reflected the informality and lack of pretension which is Glasgow's signature.The Herald
Celtic Connections has the reputation for commissioning brand new pieces of work and giving artists the chance to present their own music to an audience. This was apparent in 1997 with the opening concert.
The 1997 Celtic Connections Festival opened with a specially commissioned piece of music by Phil Cunningham. The Highlands and Islands Suite was a major musical work combining traditional, classical and contemporary elements performed by a 73 piece orchestra, 40 strong choir, 30 highland fiddlers and many of traditional music's leading lights. Work on the project started in May 1990 and was finally finished in the summer months of 1996.
The festival in 1997 was originally due to finish on the 2nd February. But that year it was extended by a day to include a performance by the legendary Emmylou Harris.
Emmylou was quoted in our brochure that year: "When you basically interpret songs it’s important to find ways to reinvent them, to discover all the emotion and layers hidden in the music and the words."