A new era in digital downloads for SFO music

Violin on its side with one F-hole visible

As we reported in December 2018, we have been going through the process of making the orchestra’s self-produced recordings available for digital download.

Historically, SFO recordings have been released through REL but – with the growth of digital downloads and online streaming – it has gradually become possible for us to consider releases which are more under our own control.

The two most recent SFO CDs are now available for purchase as downloads via iTunes or Amazon Music.

The flexibility of this format means you can either choose to download the whole album or you can select individual tracks, if you prefer. [Read more…]

Be part of and take home a little piece of the SFO (38 years of SFO recordings)

SFO Second Violin Section 2018

If you come to an SFO concert, you can’t miss our merchandise stall in the foyer.

You may have been in the audience at one of our live concert recordings before and, if you are coming to our Hogmanay Concert in the Usher Hall on 30 December 2018, we will be recording this concert live.

As half time approaches in the programme, you’ll get a gentle reminder from the compere that “CDs and DVDs are available”, and possibly how many shopping days there are left until Christmas.

It has also become an SFO tradition in ending a concert for Blair to see the orchestra off on a set of Swinging Reels, finishing with Caddam Woods. Beforehand, he explains that he’ll be in the foyer in a moment – to meet and greet the audience, and maybe sign a CD/DVD or two. [Read more…]

A Review of Scots Fiddle Festival 2018

The Scots Fiddle Festival (SFF) took place in Edinburgh on the weekend of 16-18 November 2018.

I’ve been at every SFF since 2008 and have seen it go through venues from the Assembly Rooms, Queen’s Hall / King’s Hall, Queen’s Hall / Summerhall and on to a new venue this year at the Pleasance.

The Assembly Rooms worked well because workshops, recitals, sessions and concerts were all under one roof. The Pleasance seems to represent an excellent change of venue primarily for the same reason – everything in one location. It also has a congenial café bar area which seemed to work well for the sessions and stalls. [Read more…]

SFO Members on Celtic Music Radio

Ahead of the SFO’s concert at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on 15 September 2018, on 23 August 2018, Celtic Music Radio broadcast a discussion their Sandy Weir had with Blair Parham (Conductor) and Bob Diament (Front of House Manager) of the SFO.

If you would like to listen to their segment in the show again, you can go to the following link and listen from about 11 minutes into the recording.

There’s a chance to win a pair of tickets for the Glasgow concert – open until 12 September.

The chat was interspersed with several tracks from the SFO’s Live CD “A Selection from the Caird and Usher Halls”.

Opening with the tune Fiddlers to the Fore from that CD, Bob and Blair explained that this was a composition of the late, great John Mason and was the first tune played by the SFO at its inaugural concert at Aberdeen Music Hall in 1980.  [Read more…]

The SFO’s Northern Nights Tour gets under way in Elgin

Elgin Town Hall, Elgin, Moray, with SFO in lights

The SFO’s Northern Nights Tour took place from 21 July to 27 July.

Our main concert points included venues in Moray, Orkney and Shetland.

We had planned some additional “pop-up” concerts along the way and the generally fantastic weather meant we could add in even more concerts than we had originally intended.

This is the first of a series of articles detailing the different parts of the tour.

We hope these posts will give you a taste of what we got up to on our travels. And the story begins in Troon, Ayrshire… [Read more…]

Blair Parham – World Peace Tartan Ambassador

Our dynamic Conductor, Blair Parham, is renowned for his swinging kilt during concerts.

The SFO is proud that Blair is also a World Peace Tartan Ambassador.

It’s a tartan he often wears when on stage with the SFO.

We asked Blair to explain how he came to be involved in the project and what it hopes to achieve. This is what he told us:

A little over a year ago I was contacted by Victor Spence, Founder of the World Peace Tartan Initiative asking if we could perhaps meet to discuss the initiative and how I could become part of it.

I met with Victor and listened to the history of the initiative and its aims and objectives, before giving him the history of the SFO and my involvement with it. Victor had clearly done his homework as he knew most of what I had to say! The culmination of the meeting was when Victor asked if I would become a World Peace Tartan Ambassador – something I was honoured to be asked to do.

The World Peace Tartan Initiative was created in 2011 as a message of peace.

It also helps to generate funds to aid charitable work through the licensing of its brand, design and products. As it grows, the World Peace Tartan Foundation invests in education initiatives intended to build a culture of peace and address child poverty. [Read more…]

The SFO’s Compliments to Edradour Whisky

The grounds of Edradour Distillery, Pitlochry

The SFO’s concert in Edinburgh on 9 June 2018 will again feature Edradour Distillery as a sponsor of the orchestra.

The sponsorship, which started in 2013, has brought the name of Edradour and the quality of its whisky to a much wider audience.

Edradour is to be found hidden away in Pitlochry, in the heart of Perthshire, and it can trace its handmade production of malt whisky back to 1825. [Read more…]

How wonderful it would be to be sitting in the audience!

Isle of Arran viewed from Fairlie Moor, near Largs, Ayrshire

The title is a comment from the SFO’s Facebook page.

It’s one of 431 comments under a video we put up of the orchestra and Davidson’s Mains Pipe Band playing The Sleeping Warrior at our concert in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh, on 30 December 2017.

You can view the video here.

At the time of writing, the video has 41,000 views, 779 likes and 582 shares.

Composed by Mike Gill, the title refers to the outline of the Isle of Arran, viewed from the Ayrshire coast, which looks like a Warrior in profile. John Mason arranged the tune for orchestra, pipes and drums. [Read more…]

SFO thrilled by the prospect of Northern Nights of Music and Song

Shetland road verge in Summer

The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra’s Northern Nights Tour will see us visit Moray, Orkney and Shetland over the course of a week in July 2018.

For details of ticket sales and prices, please scroll to the bottom of this article.

The tour commences with a concert in Elgin Town Hall on Saturday 21 July 2018 at 7.30pm.

After spending that night in Moray, our tour bus will then take us west along the A96 and north up the A9 to Scrabster for the ferry transfer to Stromness in Orkney on 22 July.

The following evening, we play a concert at the Pickaquoy Centre in Kirkwall (Monday, 23 July at 7.30pm). Tuesday evening – 24 July at 7.30pm – sees us perform in the town’s St Magnus Cathedral and we’ll then catch the 11pm ferry from Kirkwall to Lerwick.

Arriving in Shetland at breakfast time on 25 July, our concert at Clickimin Complex Main Hall is at 7.30pm that (Wednesday) evening.

We depart Shetland on the evening ferry on 26 July and head back to mainland Scotland at Aberdeen. We plan to play a free concert on board the MV Hjaltland on this return journey, partly as a “thank you” to NorthLink for sponsoring our tour. [Read more…]

When you discover you have a personal connection to a historic fiddle tune

Mansion House Hotel (formerly The Haugh), Elgin, Moray, viewed across the River Lossie

(SFO Member, Peter Brash, explains how he discovered he had a surprising “personal” connection to a tune by Scottish Fiddle Music legend, James Scott Skinner).

Though it’s a few years since it featured in the SFO’s regular programme, Scott Skinner’s Cradle Song has often been played at SFO concerts.

Here’s what one concert programme said about the melody:

“James Scott Skinner was arguably the greatest Scottish Violinist / composer of all time.

Classically trained from an early age, he was conscious of the wealth of Scottish music and its popularity. He taught violin and dance throughout the north-east of Scotland and as a performer shared the stage with our greatest entertainers. Both he and Sir Harry Lauder took part in the opening of the London Pavilion Theatre.

His excellent compositions are a lasting testimony to his creative abilities.

Whilst teaching in Forres and staying in the local hotel he was returning to his room when he heard and saw a lovely young lady endeavouring to console to sleep her young child. The experience so moved him to write this simple and yet beautifully formed melody which has been used not only by performers but also as the music for more than one set of charming lyrics.”

When John Mason used to introduce the Cradle Song to audiences, he told an interesting story about it.

He would explain that the “young child” in the story had grown up to have a child of her own and he now played in the First Violin section of the orchestra – retired SFO member, Gordon MacGregor.

Gordon provides an interesting link back to a Scott Skinner tune which was first published in his Logie Collection of 1888.

Another of Skinner’s over-600 published tunes is Talisker, named after the distillery on the Isle of Skye.

Of course, the vast majority of fiddle tunes are named after people, places and events.

The tune, Talisker, appears as a reel and then a Strathspey, both published around 1882.  The link here is to the wonderfully stereotypical artwork which accompanied one published version of the tune. [Read more…]