String stars take a bow at their stand-in home – Edinburgh

Edinburgh Evening News 16th June 2008

Normally the annual concert of the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra would take place in the Usher Hall, but since that venue is currently undergoing restoration the Festival Theatre makes a great home from home.

As ever, the show was a celebration of the best of Scottish traditional music, but it wasn’t limited to just that. The SFO Glee Club – several of the male musicians with decent singing voices – sang a collection of well-known Irish songs, and there were a number of original compositions by musical director and conductor, John Mason.

Unlike last year, Mason took the baton for the entire concert, while Andrew McGarva and his dancing kilt were in Tokyo. In the meantime, Mason showed that his kilt had many a birl left in it, as he animatedly took charge of the orchestra.

Once again, the ever-reliable Jim McColl kept the show moving, indulging his fondness for cheeky and colourful gags. McColl has become such a part of this gathering, that it wouldn’t feel like an SFO concert without him.

Among the outstanding, the very young Andrew Brodlie on pipes accompanying young highland dancers, Catriona and Marnie Clark stood out alongside excellent solos from the show’s guest singers. Tenor Dennis Haggerty and Mezzo Soprano Colette Ruddy each sang several numbers, including a duet, to the obvious delight of the audience.

Orkney provided inspiration for much of the evening. The Old Man of Hoy and Orkney Sunset Song, both written by Mason, concluded the first and second half respectively, and prompted loud and enthusiastic responses. The venue may have changed, but the quality remained as high as ever.
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