The Next Generation,
Celtic Colours 2002
at Strathspey Place
in Mabou, Cape Breton, NS
(19 October 2002)

I wonder how organizers ever decide what young talent will perform here. There turned out to be almost 20 entertainers this year; ages ranged from 9 to 21 years, with most of the players in their mid-teens.

Like most variety and Scottish concerts on the island, the Next Generation was truly special because of the ages of the participants. From the large stage at Strathspey Place, Whycocomagh's Burt MacIntyre, an energetic man who is well-known for his love of community culture, emceed the concert and commended the performers throughout the show.

The Rankin children from Mabou -- Tara, Brittany, David and Christine -- stepped out under the bright lights to sing "Fear na Bata" as brother John Clayton played piano. Then they sang Allister MacGillvary's "Dream a Dream" and John Clayton showed excellent timing on his piano solo, "Miss Waterburn's Reel."

If you ever get a chance to hear 21-year-old Cynthia MacLeod from Prince Edward Island play, do so. Her Head Over Heels CD sold like hotcakes at the intermission. Live, she has a comfortable stage presence, a warm interaction with the audience, and her rich tones and gracing would let her keep musical company with Winston and Buddy any day. Rankin MacInnis, in his piping kilt, did a great job of accompaniment on the piano. "The Dusky Meadow Strathspey" and "St. Anne's Reel" pleased the crowd.

In the second half, the Celtic Crew took over the stage in groups or duos. The students, who attend Dalbrae Academy, took turns piping, singing, dancing and playing guitar, piano and fiddles. Everything was Celtic and strong on Cape Breton style. What I'm going to remember with the most pleasure from this event is Stephanie MacDonald's step-dancing; she was one of the best dancers I've ever seen. Thanks to Burt MacIntyre, this Celtic Crew had the pleasure of opening for Natalie MacMaster at her show in Whycocomagh this past summer.

Another of my favorites of the afternoon was Stephanie MacDonald and Margie Beaton playing "MacDougall's Pride," a tune written by Ashley MacIsaac and Gordie Sampson. Their fiddles just sang. I had been taking pictures and was sorry to find myself out of film by this point. The traditional material held everyone's attention and the students took obvious pride in presenting their culture to a more diverse audience than usual.

Celtic Colours was drawing to a close and there had been some memorable moments in all of the concerts I'd seen. In my mind, I keep comparing these concerts to the summer festivals on the island and I need to jolt myself back to the present with the words "international festival," which has a different focus and a different purpose. Consider me enlightened after this, my sixth concert in the series.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 8 February 2003