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30 Glorious Years




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CD1   1980-1990
The year 2010 celebrates the 30th anniversary of The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra. Neil Ross, our recording expert at REL Records, Edinburgh, suggested that it would be appropriate to bring out a 3 set CD package to commemorate the event, each CD to be drawn from our recordings over each of the 10 years since 1980. Neil asked if I would prepare a commentary for each of the CDs highlighting items of interest for each period. The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra evolved from the popular "Fiddlers' Rallies" of the 1970s. Although discussions had taken place during the late 1970s the Orchestra really only took to the stage in the Music Hall, Aberdeen on 22nd March, 1980. This inaugural concert was kindly supported by Aberdeen City Council and was recorded by Neil Ross for an LP "A Toast to Bon Accord". The original management team comprised me as Director of Music and Conductor, Sandy Cook of Bankfoot (Deputy Conductor), Dr Gerry Crean of Kilmacolm (Secretary), Grace Pratt of Aberdeen (Treasurer), Willie Dunlop of Prestwick (Leader) and Administrators Leslie Pratt of Aberdeen, Bob Willox of Fife, Robert Clyde of Glasgow together with Andrew Cousar and David Paton both of Troon. Over the years this format changed and amongst these changes our "Father Figure" Gerry Crean became our long-serving President, Dr David Martin our Secretary and Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal our Royal Patron. Being to some extent at the height of the fiddle popularity our first 10 years were very exciting from a "home-front" point of view. Firstly we established a concert format for annual performances in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Royal Albert Hall, London together with other less frequent concerts in other locations capable of staging an orchestra in excess of 100 members. A smaller group took part in a tour to Dallas in Texas in 1982. The Royal Albert Hall Show was a superb weekend event. Starting in Glasgow often in a specially chartered train made up entirely of our musicians, friends and supporters. We set off to the sound of fiddles and pipes. Self-catering was the norm but what self-catering it was! The ladies covered the tables with linen and set out china, wine glasses etc. and luxurious banquets were enjoyed as we sped South. Groups of fiddlers and accordionists would then "Play the Train" providing entertainment the full length of the occupied carriages and it was like a huge Hogmanay party with refreshments being provided to the participants as they went along. This period also attracted the TV and Radio Companies to us culminating in live Hogmanay shows on STV, radio shows on BBC Scotland and a series of one hour shows for Channel 4 TV which had to be recorded two at a time before a studio audience. It was all great fun although strenuous. We worked with the great names in Scottish entertainment both vocal and instrumental. On one occasion our transport had to have a police escort to ensure we got from a live BBC Radio Show down to Cowcaddens in Glasgow where we were the Orchestra for Scottish Television's "Hogmanay". During our first 10 years we maintained strong traditional music links but extended also into more expansive pieces such as "Prince of the Mists" tracing in Scottish music the 1745 Rebellion and the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie.
John M Mason MBE
Director of Music and Principal Conductor
The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra

1  Fiddlers To The Fore (2:31)
2   Bluebell Polka (Medley) (4:09)
3   The Flower O' The Quern (3:07)
4   Salute To J Scott Skinner (Medley) (4:11)
5   The Strings Of Bon Accord (2:40)
6   The Heroes Of Longhope (3:27)
7   Petronella (Medley) (4:03)
8   The Hen's March O'er The Midden (2:00)
9   Eva Three-Step (Medley) (3:35)
10   Reel Of The 51st Division (Medley) (3:14)
11   Canadian Barn Dance (Medley) (3:29)
12   Am Muileann-Uisge - The Old Water-Mill (4:31)
13   Fiddle Duet - The Hardanger (4:04)
14   Pipe Marches (Medley) (4:06)
15   Music O' The Spey (3:26)
16   Dumbarton Castle (Medley) (3:47)
17   The Blackthorn Stick (Medley) (2:25)
18   The Northlands (Medley) (3:01)

CD2  1990-2000
This was a period of expansion for The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra. Willie Dunlop, our first Leader, had died and his place taken by Bill Cook. Robbie Shepherd M.B.E. of BBC Aberdeen had taken over as Compere following the sudden demise of the Reverend James Currie our original Master of Ceremonies. As well as maintaining our annual concert series at home our President, Dr Gerry Crean secured for us three concerts in Ireland. These were firstly in The Ulster Hall, Belfast then the National Concert Hall, Dublin and finally Gerry's original home town of Courtown, Co.Wexford. We were joined on the tour by The Garrykennedy Heritage Players from North Tipperary and the whole tour was captured (by Neil Ross of REL Records, Edinburgh) and issued in video format under the title "Over the Water". Neil has throughout our performances been able to record both in vision and sound many exciting events which we were able to use for tapes, CDs etc. He was also able to convert many of the shows for potential TV use. An interest was shown in those by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the USA and Canada where the shows became extremely popular and led to our first Canadian Tour. I was astonished, visiting Toronto in advance of the Tour to be treated as "Star" material with personal appearances and TV interviews. The tour itself, organised by Charlie Meek of Terrace, British Columbia (a native of Clackmannan!) took in shows in Victoria, Courtnay, Orpheum Theatre Vancouver, Terrace, Prince George, Kamloops culminating in an open air performance in The Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto to an audience of over 10,000. Andrew McGarva of Ayr and I shared conducting and our artistes were Mary Sandeman, James Nicol, Piper Keith Easdale and Compere Jim McColl, M.B.E. Neil was also with us on the tour and following a full filming at the "Molson" and Neil's additional footage of the tour, video recordings were released called, "The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra plays Toronto" and "Canada O Canada". Such was the popularity of The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra that we returned to Canada two years later to play Lethbridge, Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Kamloops, Kelowna and Vancouver. In addition to these major tours smaller groups of the Orchestra took part in musical visits virtually world-wide. I personally had the pleasure (following an SFO performance in Blenheim Palace) of organising music and artistes for Burns' Suppers in India! These provided a unique opportunity for some of us to see the sights of that great country over a number of years. Other venues included Bahrain, Portugal, Reid's Palace Madeira, Israel and so on each event providing for the musicians an experience he or she might never otherwise enjoy. The decade drew to its close with an invitation from Her Majesty The Queen for Gerry and I to be guests at HRH The Princess Royal's 50th Birthday Party at Windsor Castle. This was coupled with a request for a small group of the Orchestra to play within the Castle itself, Bill Cook, Stewart McCreath, Andrew McGarva and Willie Kidd all took part and we all enjoyed wonderful hospitality, were introduced to Her Majesty and Her Royal Highness and experienced something of the "behind-the-scenes" proceedings which are seldom seen at these events.
John M Mason MBE
Director of Music and Principal Conductor
The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra

1   Ceud Mile Failte (Medley) (4:14)
2   Auld Rants (Medley) (3:00)
3   Whistling Rufus (Medley) (2:45)
4   The Flower Of Portencross (4:46)
5   Swinging Reels (Medley) (2:30)
6   Rosebud Of Allanvale (2:21)
7   When The Battle Is Over (Medley) (5:21)
8   Scented Fairy Bower (4:10)
9   The Musical Flea (2:44)
10   Irish Fantasia (Medley) (2:31)
11   Gentle Annie (3:31)
12   March Of the Cellos (2:24)
13   Scotland The Brave (2:52)
14   Highland Scottische (Medley) (3:16)
15   Dance Of The Basses (2:43)
16   Ontario Swing (Medley) (2:59)
17   Jigs From The Gow Collection (1784-1822) (3:24)
18   Flying Fiddles Reels (Medley) (2:43)

CD3  2000-2010
This particular decade saw even further expansion in all directions, recordings, tours and venue changes. The Orchestra adopted a role of encouraging young players to join in certain parts of the shows to allow them to enjoy the experience of concert performances. These young players included violinists, cellists, accordionists etc. as well as pipes and drums. This augmented the repertoire with pieces such as "The Old Man of Hoy", "Orkney Sunset", "Carol of the Bagpipers", "Rose of Galloway" and the ever-popular "Highland Cathedral". It also featured the wonderful duet playing of Yla Steven and Stewart McCreath and introduced the Myra Shuttleworth Dancers from Castle Douglas and young piper, Andrew Brodlie of Troon. We gave special performances for our Royal Patron in Glasgow, Troon and Ayr and undertook at least three major tours. Our first was for performances in Derry in the new Millennium Theatre as part of the Maiden City Festival. The second was a unique opportunity to tour Australia and New Zealand giving concerts in Perth, Mandurah, Brisbane, Toowoomba, Newcastle, Melbourne and Canberra in Australia and Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland in New Zealand. Our final concert was given in Sydney's prestigious Opera House. Over all we gave 13 concerts, had 16 flights and covered a total of 27,760 miles! This was followed a year later by our third tour of Canada visiting Victoria, Nanaimo on Vancouver Island and then Surrey, Terrace, Prince George, Kelowna, Regina and the famous "Hummingbird" in Toronto. We were privileged to be invited to take part in the opening of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood on 9th October, 2004. This was a day of history in the making and our musicians did us proud. The Earl of Elgin (Chieftain of the Clan Bruce) requested a group to play in St John's Church, Perth and thereafter at Scone Palace on 26th March, 2006 to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the crowning of King Robert the Bruce as King of Scots, his forebear. The Church Service was complete with heraldry and pageantry and the repast at Scone was accompanied by drummers and pipers. Barons of beef were carried into the marquee in which the guests were seated and we provided a more light hearted programme there with Myra Shuttleworth and Caroline Lambie dancers and Dennis Haggerty tenor, Keith Easdale, piper and we even persuaded the venerable Earl to sing which he did to everyone's delight. We also took in a trip "North" to the Orkney Music Festival giving shows in the Pickaquoy Centre and St Magnus Cathedral where we performed, with Kirkwall City Pipe Band "Highland Cathedral" to unforgettable effect. The decade also saw the 80th Birthday celebration for HM The Queen and we took part in an outdoor concert with amongst others Katherine Jenkins at Balmoral Castle in honour of her Majesty. The film "The Wicker Man" made in the early 1970s was, and still is, immensely popular. I had the good fortune to have met actor Edward Woodward and the cast during filming in Wigtownshire and much enjoyed their social company. I was surprised and delighted when our orchestra Piper Keith Easdale told me he was Musical Director of a new film to be entitled "The Wicker Tree" by the same Director. He asked if a group of the SFO would provide part of the music and also take part in the film! This was organised and with some trepidation undertaken. It involved two days of recording in studios in the Glasgow area and a day of filming at a lovely old church in Dalkeith. I don't think we are in line for "Oscars" but it was great fun and quite an experience. Throughout the decade we maintained our annual concert schedule although modifications were made to include Perth, a Hogmanay-type concert in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh as well as Edinburgh's Festival Theatre, Dumfries DGI, The Sage at Gateshead, Harrogate's International Hall, Birmingham Town Hall and a unique experience for us - the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, home of the Hallé Orchestra. This is now a beautiful modern concert hall and in an historical context it was from the then leader of the Hallé that our most famous fiddler/ composer, J. Scott Skinner, received tuition as a member of "Dr Mark's Little Men" in the mid 1800s. In 2008 we were awarded the MG Alba Scots Traditional Music Award sponsored by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society and presented at a BBC Television evening in Glasgow. 2009 was the 250th anniversary of the birth of our National Bard, Robert Burns. I had previously written the Overture "Tam o' Shanter and Cutty Sark" and Sam Gaw of Irvine (a past Burns' Federation President) and I have collaborated on a Cantata on the life and works of the Bard. The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra decided to commemorate the Anniversary by bringing out both of these in DVD and CD format. In the Cantata we were joined by Mary Sandeman and James Nicol with Piper, David Low, but for the DVD of the Overture we were privileged to use some of the magnificent Goudie paintings currently housed in Rozelle in Ayr. As part of our on-going commitment to our National Heritage and to youth we donated a DVD to every secondary school in Scotland, thus providing pupils with not only the life and loves of the Bard but also, in musical form, the greatest narrative poem in the English language. At the close of the decade The Princess Royal invited a number of the Orchestra Board and their partners as guests to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace to celebrate her 60th birthday. This invitation was then extended to include a group of orchestra members to play within the Palace itself for a special lunch hosted by Her Royal Highness and welcoming music to all guests attending the Garden Party (about 3,000!) and then for the strings to join the Band of the Blues and Royals (who were providing the music in the Garden) for a ceilidh type finale. There was even a "Dashing White Sergeant" performed on the sun drenched lawn. What a great time they all had as the photograph shows. It has been a wonderful 30 years and I am very proud to have been at the helm. Supporting, have been every member of the enthusiastic Board and Conductors Sandy Cook, Andrew McGarva and now Blair Parham. There have been times of great joy and sadness. There really has been every emotion experienced by a family. To a great extent The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra is a great family in music each member giving, without financial reward, his or her time and effort for the benefit of The Orchestra and Scottish music in general. Long may this continue.
John M Mason MBE
Director of Music and Principal Conductor
The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra

1   Hamilton House (Medley) (3:26)
2   Dancie Shuttleworth (Medley) (3:50)
3   Gay Gordons (Medley) (4:18)
4   Tribute To Sir Jimmy Shand (Medley) (8:08)
5   La Russe (32 x Bar Reels Medley) (2:54)
6   Our Princess Royal (3:53)
7   Colin L O'Riordan (5:17)
8   Lady Gethin (3:04)
9   Eamonn Gilmartin's Eclipse (Medley) (2:37)
10   Echoes In The Glen (5:50)
11   The Flowers Of Edinburgh (Medley) (2:47)
12   The Old Man Of Hoy (5:47)
13   The Drummers (Reel Variations) (2:29)
14   The Horticulturist (2:03)
15   Concert Finale (Medley) (3:20)


 +44 (0)131 668 3366
CD BARCODE: 722932057425

A fantastic 3 CD set.....
30 Glorious Years of The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra
Each CD features music drawn from one decade as we celebrate the wide range and repetoire of this wonderful orchestra formed in 1980 and still going strong in to the next century.
fantastic new Scottish music from :: The Music Kitchen :: now available here


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