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What is tradition? The great Scottish folksinger Jean Redpath recalled that the tradition in her family was to cut the Sunday joint in half before cooking - on inquiring how this 'family tradition' came about, her mother told her that it was simply that at one time they didn't have a big enough pot!
So after ten years the annual Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, which starts this week (15 January - 2 February 2003), must now be considered as 'traditional'. 2003 marks the tenth anniversary of Celtic Connections which has grown into a major event - last year the attendance figures reached 94,000 and the expenditure by festival-goers and organisers was valued at some 3 million. A substantial boost to the Glasgow economy at a traditionally quiet time of year.
Celtic Connections 2003 takes place across Glasgow. The focal point of the festival is The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, where performances take place in every space - from workshops in the foyers, to performances by world- class artistes (such as Sinead O'Connor and Tom Paxton) in the Main Auditorium. The Old Fruitmarket plays host to some of the biggest names in Celtic music including Shane McGowan, formerly of The Pogues. More traditional music is performed at The Piping Centre whilst Celtic-influenced jazz, dance and fusion is performed at The Arches. After the success of last year, more atmospheric performances will take place in Glasgow Cathedral including fiddler Aly Bain and the BT Scottish Ensemble.The City Halls is the home of Scottish Highland Dance during Celtic Connections and other venues are The Barrowlands, The Tron Theatre and the Tramway. Children across the city experience Celtic Connections in the community venues that are an integral part of the festival. In addition, unscheduled performances take place at the legendary Festival Club.
Celtic Connections plays a vital role encouraging and fostering new and young talent. Two new projects for the tenth anniversary, 'The Young Tradition' and 'Inspired Apprentices' aim to showcase existing young talent working in the Scottish traditional Music scene. 'Danny Kyle's Open Stage' is an integral part giving talented newcomers an opportunity to get up and have a go. The late folksinger Danny Kyle would have approved of this type of tribute to his memory. In its third year at the festival the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician exists to encourage young musicians to keep their tradition alive and to maximise their musical potential of a career in traditional music.
Celtic Connections has been awarded Scottish Arts Council Lottery funding for a new Education Programme under the children's and young people's scheme to increase understanding of performance of traditional music in schools. This essential work takes place not only during Celtic Connections but all year round, thus ensuring that the tradition is kept alive.
A strong line-up of 'Scottish Women' singers including Sheena Wellington, who sang a 'A Man's A Man' at the official opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, start off the proceedings in the Concert Hall's Main Auditorium on 15 January. For more details please visit
At some folk nights back in the 60s and 70s it was the habit to have one of Scotland's National Dishes - Stovies - during the interval. We don't know if Stovies will be available during Celtic Connections 2003 but you can always enjoy a plateful in the comfort of your own home, whilst playing Scottish Traditional Music and Song in the background. Gaberlunzies 'Independent Scots' CD would be ideal.
Ingredients : 1 oz (25 g ) butter, dripping or margarine; 2 lbs (1 Kg) potatoes; 8 oz (225 g ) onions; 1/2 pint ( 300 ml) hot water or mutton stock; salt and pepper to taste
Melt fat in saucepan. Wash, peel and slice potatoes into pan. Peel, slice and add onions. Toss in saucepan for about a minute, then add water or stock and salt and pepper. Cover. bring slowly to boil. Simmer gently for fully 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. When ready, the potatoes should be tinged here and there with brown. Serve with cold, boiled or roast mutton or cold roast lamb. A meal fit for a Celtic Festival.

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