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Celtic Harmonies: Putting Down Deep Roots in the Townships


For ten days this October, 40 of the world’s best Celtic musicians will move in to the Eastern Townships of Québec to play in churches and small halls, to mingle in cafés, and to share their passion for Celtic music, history and song with the local communities and visiting aficionados.

Celtic Harmonies International Festival will take place October 4 – 13, 2013, in seven municipalities in the Eastern Townships, with a special Pre-Festival Concert at L’Olympia in Montréal. In its second edition in the Townships, the Festival is the rebirth of the highly successful Montréal International Celtic Festival which took place from 2000 to 2002 and attracted 90,000 people over three weekends.

“Overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants of the first edition has convinced us that the Eastern Townships, an area with deep-seated Celtic roots, is the perfect place for this Festival.” says April O’Donoughue, Director of the festival.  “Since the Celts venerated nature, and Celtic music is rooted in small, close-knit communities around the world that have kept this music going, the Townships – with their small, more intimate venues in this gorgeous natural setting – provide an ambiance that reflects much of the essence of Celtic music, and allows people to slow down and re-discover the Art of living.”

“Nothing comes close to experiencing world-class Celtic musicians in such intimate and incredible settings.  Picture yourself sitting in a quaint 150-year-old church sipping a local wine and listening to one of the best Celtic guitarists in the world, while the sun setting over the Autumn-coloured mountains streams in through stained glass windows… It’s awe-inspiring!” says O’Donoughue.

Musicians from Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, the US, and Canada, will showcase the entire range of Celtic music, from the very traditional to the newest tendencies, demonstrating the deep connections between these cultures, and celebrating our common roots.  Festival-goers can expect to hear everything from traditional fiddling and bagpipes, to haunting Gaelic laments, to incredible Afro-Celtic fusions.

Among the artists expected:

  • Dermot Byrne, winner of this year’s Irish television’s “Gradam Ceoil TG4 Traditional Musician of the Year” award, and a long-standing member of the Irish super group Altan;
  • Liz Carroll, Irish-American fiddler, recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship – presented by First Lady Hillary Clinton – for her great influence on Irish music in America, as a performer and a composer;
  • Dáithí Sproule, also a member of Altan and a seminal figure in Irish music;
  • Mary Jane Lamond, Cape Breton’s best known Gaelic voice (think Ashley MacIsaac’s “Sleepy Maggie”), and master fiddlerWendy MacIsaac;
  • Tony McManus, arguably the best Celtic guitarist in the world;
  • and 34 others.


Daytime activities will include lectures and workshops, school visits by the invited musicians, a Celtic Marketplace, Celtic food and drink, traditional Irish Sessions, as well as activities to help people to rediscover their sense of wonder for the natural environment in this spectacularly beautiful region with the autumn colours at their peak.

The organizers believe that this event will have a significant economic impact on the local communities while enhancing the cultural offerings of the region.  A similar festival (Celtic Colours) in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, generates over $15 million per year in economic benefits for that small island.

The festival’s mission is to celebrate nature through music, dance and the arts, and to celebrate the close historical ties that exist between Québec, Ireland, Scotland and Brittany. Celtic Harmonies is all about rediscovering the art of living. As their motto says: Let nature soothe your soul, Let the music feed your imagination.”

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