The Barra MacNeils join forces with Symphony Nova Scotia for two blockbuster concerts of symphonic Celtic music

Concerts combine the Barras’ step-dancing, sibling harmonies, and multi-instrumental chops with lush symphonic arrangements

Halifax, NS – The Barra MacNeils join Symphony Nova Scotia for two high-stepping nights of symphonic East Coast music on Friday, September 30 and Saturday, October 1 at 7:30 pm at Halifax’s Rebecca Cohn Auditorium.

From their roots in Cape Breton’s Sydney Mines, the five MacNeil siblings are famed worldwide for their tight harmonies, fleet-footed step-dancing, and deft multi-instrumental prowess. Their 30-year career has resulted in 17 recordings, as well as numerous tours across Canada, the U.S., the U.K., and Europe.

The Barras’ last appearance with Symphony Nova Scotia, back in 2011, was an audience favourite that also led to the award-winning album The Barra MacNeils with Symphony Nova Scotia: Live in Concert. Praise for the recording included:

  • “Cape Breton’s Barra MacNeils are like an orchestra unto themselves… so imagine their fiery reels and poignant ballads amplified by Symphony Nova Scotia. It’s like James Cameron adding 3-D to his blockbuster Titanic, taking something majestic and raising it to the realm of spectacle, in this case an extra-dimensional feast for the ears instead of the eyes.The Barra MacNeils with Symphony Nova Scotia: Live in Concert finds the common ground between the orchestra’s grandeur and the family band’s kitchen-party enthusiasm, and preserves an event that only gets heard by a lucky few.” – Steve Cooke, in the Chronicle Herald

Conducted by Symphony Nova Scotia’s Associate Conductor (and Cape Bretoner) Martin MacDonald, both concerts will feature highlights from the Barras’ 30-year career. Tunes will run the gamut from new songs to traditional reels and jigs – all featuring the Barras’ signature step-dancing, vocal harmonies, and performance chops on well over a dozen stringed, wind, and percussion instruments.

The concert lineup includes:

  • Longest Day of the Year
  • One Misty Moisty Morning
  • My Heart’s in the Highlands
  • The Island
  • Caledonia
  • Horses, Geese and One Old Man
  • Dougie Mac
  • Darling Be Home Soon
  • The Underachiever
  • By Northern Light

“The Barra MacNeils are thrilled to be back in Halifax as guests of Symphony Nova Scotia,” says Stewart MacNeil.

“We will be featuring much of the music from our award-winning The Barra MacNeils with Symphony Nova Scotia: Live in Concert recording as well as some new arrangements. We’ve been performing our symphony shows with most of Canada’s finest orchestras, and these very popular shows have become favourites for fans of the band, and also have earned us many new fans as well.”

Orchestral arrangements for these concerts are by Scott Macmillan, Stewart MacNeil, James Mark, Eric Robertson, and Symphony Nova Scotia’s own Chris Palmer.

After both concerts, the Barras will be available for a meet and greet in the lobby, just outside the concert hall.

Tickets for both concerts begin at $30 (HST included), and you can save up to 35% by purchasing a ticket package. Tickets are available at the Dalhousie Arts Centre box office (6101 University Avenue, Halifax), at 902.494.3820, or online at

About the Barra MacNeils

Barra-MacNeils-776x4002016 marks 30 years for the Barra MacNeils in an outstanding recording and touring career.

Their recent releases have covered the span of their entire career, as well as live concerts reflecting their musical course, from humble family beginnings to worldwide acclaim. The concert touring in support of these projects has taken the group to theatre and festival stages coast to coast across Canada, and has had them jetting across America from festival stage to theatre stages and beyond, as well as sending them to Ireland and Scotland for prestigious events across the Atlantic.

As a group, the MacNeil siblings are widely regarded as one of the greatest live concert acts in the Celtic world. Hailing from Sydney Mines, Cape Breton, the family group is deeply rooted in Celtic music, culture, dance, language, and history. Their numerous critically-acclaimed recordings have included their own original songs as well as tried and true standards, both instrumental and vocal.

The Barra MacNeils’ live concert experience brings so much to the stage. Multiple lead vocalists, beautiful sibling harmonies, and top-drawer instrumental prowess on a wide variety of acoustic, stringed, percussion, and wind instruments, blended with dancing, storytelling, Gaelic songs, and a journey through an ancient culture; it is family entertainment at its best.

Steeped in Cape Breton tradition with strong Celtic roots and musical artistry, this diverse and talented family group continues to wow audiences around the world with their captivating vocals and harmonies, and extraordinary musicianship.

As Canada’s Celtic ambassadors, the Barra MacNeils continue to perform to sold-out audiences throughout Canada, the U.S., the Caribbean, the U.K., and Europe. They headline major festivals, perform concerts including their annual Christmas tour, make special guest appearances, and appear on television and in film.

The Barra MacNeils will continue to do what they love best – play their music for the fans. In tours across Canada, the U.S., and Europe, they spread their distinctive brand of Celtic flavour around the world.

About Symphony Nova Scotia

Symphony Nova Scotia is Nova Scotia’s orchestra. Each year more than 50,000 audience members (including 15,000 young music lovers) join us in communities across Nova Scotia for performances of the music they love – from baroque and classical to pop and rock and folk. Under the inspirational leadership of Music Director Bernhard Gueller, Symphony Nova Scotia is one of the most broadcast orchestras in the country, with over 20 commercial releases and multiple East Coast Music Awards. Visit to learn more, listen online, or get tickets today!


For more information, please contact:
Heidi MacPhee
Director of Communications and Marketing, Symphony Nova Scotia