The SFO in Concert in Inverurie

The SFO had a memorable concert in Inverurie Town Hall on 27 September 2019 as part of the town’s first In-Tune festival.

We were delighted to be joined by our good friends, Colette Ruddy, mezzo-soprano, and Dennis Haggerty, tenor, for the occasion.

The festival took place over 3 days and was organised by Inverurie Business Improvement District.

Our concert was one of a total of 16 events held across the weekend.

Unfortunately, the wet weather meant we could not do any outdoor pop-up concerts but we thoroughly enjoyed the main concert on Saturday evening, some of the highlights of which were:

  • The “Russian” section of the programme moving from “La Russe” set of reels to the wonderful air composed by Yla Steven (performed as a duet by Yla and Sarah Lynchehaun) – “Colin L. O’Riordan”. Colin was a founder member of the SFO and a regular player with the orchestra until his death in 2001. During his life, he developed and encouraged numerous musical links between Scotland and Russia.
The tune ‘La Russe’ which starts and finishes the set of SFO reels which bear its name.
  • Guest artistes, the local young fiddlers of Fiddle D Dee, who performed a varied set at the start of the second half, including a rousing set of Shetland Reels. There was a nod to the performance style of Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, who would have been impressed by how the young folk played the ‘Unnamed Shetland Reel’.

  • Tributes in tunes to former SFO comperes, Robbie Shepherd and Jim McColl. Jim lives locally and we were glad he could join us for the concert, help draw the raffle and then reminisce a bit about his SFO experiences over 20 years with the orchestra (more of which, below).

  • Dennis testing the audience with his ‘call and response’ versions of old favourites, The Wee Cooper o’ Fife, Campbeltown Loch and a final one – which only one lady near the front of the hall could complete, bringing the house down – which was unknown to this reporter. (Complete: “If you want excitement and you like to ha’e a go…”).

  • Being joined by the Highland Granite Pipes & Drums for ensemble pieces “St Magnus Way” and “The Sleeping Warrior”, which closed each half of the concert.

  • And our bucket collection raising £250 for St Andrew’s School, Inverurie.

Jim McColl explained that, the first time he MC’d an SFO concert in London – in the Royal Albert Hall – he stood in the spot occupied the previous week by Shirley Bassey.

Jim went on to talk about tours he had been on with the SFO.

He recalled a concert at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver, which is said to have a ghost (and which at least one member of the SFO claimed to have encountered). The concert at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto was memorable for being both out of doors and in front of an audience of 10,000 people – and because they could not coax John Mason to come off the stage and bring the concert to an end.

Jim picked up on an Orcadian theme running through the concert.

From Andy Cant of Kirkwall City Pipe Band’s ‘St Magnus Way’ (which the SFO premiered in St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, in July 2018 on our Northern Nights Tour, with Andy taking the lead) to the first prize in the raffle being a bottle of Highland Park to the next tune he was to introduce being ‘The Heroes of Longhope’ (for more on which see the SFO Newsletter of March 2019 – downloadable from this page on the SFO website).

Thanks again to Inverurie BID for having us.

The North East is the SFO’s spiritual home and it’s always fantastic for us to play in places where the fiddle tradition is strong and flourishing, with a bright future.

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