A feast of Scottish culture – York

York Evening Press 25th April 2005

A Feast of Scottish culture was served with great flair by members of the acclaimed Scottish Fiddle orchestra (SFO) which celebrates its Silver Jubilee this year. Saturday night’s St. George’s Day audience responded with tremendous warmth to the scores of tartan-clad musicians playing fiddles, cellos, double basses, accordions, keyboards, flutes, drums and the inevitable bagpipes.

The jigs, reels and polkas got the feet tapping and the hands clapping, while lyrical slow airs tugged at the heart-strings.

SFO founder John Mason was inspired by the famous landmark on the Orkney islands to compose “The Old Man of Hoy” (Homeward Bound). It is a poem of great intensity, climaxing with drums, cymbals and bagpipes. His fellow-conductor, Andrew McGarva, wrote “Takashi’s Dawn”, a beautiful slow air to mark the birth of his first nephew, who has a Japanese mother.

The SFO invited nearly 40 young musicians from the York area to share its stage. The children responded magnificently, winning the hearts of the audience. Mezzo soprano Colette Ruddy and tenor James Nicol added their dulcet tones, while the SFO Glee Club’s singing had a more earthy flavour more suited to the pub. Great fun.

This concert may be the SFO’s swansong, as uncertainty surrounding the city’s Barbican Centre has compelled the orchestra to book The Sage Gateshead concert hall on the Tyne for next year’s spring concert. Gateshead’s gain is York’s loss.

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