On Saturday 15th October 2016, Celtic Connections played for the dancers at a charity Barn Dance in the Band Club in Cospicua.
Eleven of us turned up including our great friends Peter and Moira of Dampiers Round from England. Moira led the band with her fiddle and Peter called the dances. Below is a link to a short video take by one of the dancers. Later, we will post a video taken by a professional photographer who was visiting at the time - lucky for us.
More to come!
On January 23rd, Celtic Connections played for a Scottish themed night at Palazzo de Piro in Mdina. Not being held exactly on Burns night, the usual speeches were not done, but our own Scottish dance group was in attendance, led by Mark's wife Kate and ably assisted by a fellow dancer, our cajon player Juliet. Mark did a great job explaining the tradition to the Maltese guests who greeted the evening with gusto.
For the event we introduced a few well known songs from Scotland, and the audience sang lustily in the choruses.
The main object of the evening and the really fun part was to teach the audience the three dances: Gay Gordons, Dashing White Sergeant, and Strip the Willow, and to encourage everyone onto the floor. No-one held back and the initial mayhem resolved into a boisterous rendition of all three.
We were expecting an informal layout and were a bit taken aback when we saw the room beautifully laid out banquet style, complete with white chair covers. However, all went very well and both guests and band were very comfortable and well catered for. A big thank you to the staff who looked after us so well.
Below are a couple of photographs of the Band on the evening. More later once I get the dancing pictures!
On 20th June 2015, Celtic Connections played for the Malta Emerald Society's first ever barn dance. those who have attended one of these events know that the most important person is the Caller, who calls out the moves for the dancers. The next most important person is the leader of the band! We do not have a caller on the Island, so we asked our dear friends from Worcestershire, Peter and Moira Gutteridge to come over and fulfil these roles for us. Peter and Moira have their own group called Dampiers Round, and we met them originally when we played in their village folk band every Monday, in Drakes Broughton in UK. Moira is an accomplished fiddler who spends a lot of time fiddling in Shetland and they both play regularly at the English Country Dance headquarters at Halsway Manor.
For this occasion, Moira and Peter compiled a tunebook with some tunes we were familiar with and some new ones, and matched them to the dances. During the two weeks of their stay we had wonderful fun learning the tunes and bringing them up to speed for the dancers was a challenge! However, we succeeded. You can find the tunes and the names of the dances by clicking on "Our Music" in the left menu bar.
On the night it was blowing a gale and only 90 of the expected 110 turned up but as you can see from the picture below a good time was had by all. Clothes pegs were very necessary to keep our music on the stands. Loose leaves were lost for ever!
We did not manage to get through all the dances.and as usual the hilarity came from the bits that caused confusion.
However, despite the high wind which lifted the tablecloths, it was a really good night. Roll on the next one.
On 7th December, the Porters held their Christmas party in the playroom at Palazzo Promontorio, There were 100 guests and 10 band members. The evening took the form of a carol session with wordsheets handed out.The surprise for the friends attending was that each table of 10 had 10 pieces of assorted percussion waiting for them. Some were shy and initially were perturbed by the sight of tambourines, triangles, shakers, bells, tambours and some very odd items brought from the Porters' travels abroad! The majority, however soon started crashing and banging, and the band had to wrest control and bring some sort of order to the proceedings.
Celtic Connections play their carols at a medieval pace - quite speedy - and in a traditional rhythm with Good King Wenceslas played more like a polka than the sonorous renditions often heard. This is always our opening carol as everyone rises to the rhythm and in no time at all, everyone, including the doubters, were wielding their instruments with vigour! We play a few truly medieval carols, which usually go down well. We also sang a couple in Maltese for our numerous Maltese friends who were with us. Some of them complimented us on our pronunciation of what is a very difficult language, but others found it highly amusing.
After the carols, we dined on Christmas fare, and all the while folk were lubricating their vocal cords which had taken a bashing!
The band followed by our usual session (the party was on a scheduled session night), which was really just for the musicians, but most of the guests stayed to listen to us playing our traditional music for another hour or so.
These parties are great fun, but very hard work with rehearsals, learning new tunes, and general planning. So they don't happen every year, but we try to manage one every other year. The music is the element for a very different evening, and both guests and musicians went home happy.
Celtic Connections held a session at the Dubliner, St Julian's on Monday 24th February.
The Craic was Good!
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