Photo courtesy of Joyce Beaton Celtic Chaos will be performing an original piece about the Highland Clearances at the Rotary Hall on Sept. 21. From left: Gordon Lafleur, John Beaton, Joyce Beaton, Joe Spinelli and Dave Barta.

Qualicum Beach group retells Scottish history through song

Celtic Chaos blends rhyming story, poetry and song in new piece

Qualicum Beach musical group Celtic Chaos is set to perform a new original piece at the Rotary Hall on Sept. 21.

For the Highlanders tells the story of the Highland Clearances, where people from the Scottish Highlands were forced off their land and onto ships, beginning in the late 1700s and stretching into the 1800s.

Many Canadians of Scottish ancestry have their roots in these events.

Joyce Beaton is a member of Celtic Chaos. She says the group was inspired to write the piece after hearing about a project in Scotland called The Hector.

The original piece uses instrumental music to tell the story of one of the first ships that brought Scottish settlers to Canada in 1773. This new performance by Celtic Chaos uses some of the instrumental work in The Hector, and expands on it.

For The Highlanders uses rhyming story, poetry, rhyming song and tunes. The words were written by spoken word poet John Beaton. The performance piece is split into two 45-minute acts.

“The first half tells the story of the highlanders being forced off the land, onto the boats, landing in Pictou, Nova Scotia and it not being what they thought it would be,” said Beaton.

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“The second half looks at the whole concept of the spread of Celts through the world, and about immigration and emigration. Both halves end in a very positive musical note.”

The group has performed excerpts from the piece, but this will be the first time it’s performed in entirety. Joyce Beaton says the small bits they have performed have been very well received.

The show in Qualicum Beach is close to selling out, but any tickets left are available at Covet in Qualicum Beach.

For those who won’t be able to make this show, the group will be performing the piece again on Gabriola Island in November and in Ladysmith in February.

Beaton is excited about the prospect of sharing the work with others.

“Some of them are going to bring people to tears. Because they’re bringing me to tears,” said Beaton.

“It’s that rollercoaster of there’s tough times, but there’s also good times. There’s joy, and there’s hope, and there’s looking forward. I think it’s super cool. We’re very proud of what we’ve created at this point and we hope other people will feel the same way.”

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