New visitors to Nottingham Royal Concert Hall in April include Scotland’s top Fiddle Orchestra, making its first appearance in the County on Saturday 25th April.

The Orchestra will be joined by the Nottinghamshire Police Pipe Band.

Pipers, dancers and singers will complement the players in an extravaganza of lively music, in a range of traditional Scottish styles. The Orchestra promises that the infectious rhythms will make the audience want to dance in their seats, and that they will have the whole audience standing and singing by the end of the evening!

Even traditionally reserved audiences in China got up and danced in the aisles when the Orchestra played there a couple of years ago!

The SFO, which is a highly talented amateur organisation, has performed in major concert halls of the UK and overseas, including London’s Royal Albert Hall, Symphony Hall Birmingham and the major concert halls of Australia and New Zealand, including Sydney Opera House. If has also toured in China and Canada. It is a registered charity which has generated over £1m for other charities in the last 30 years, and it currently gives half a dozen concerts per year in the UK.

The event represents a popular tradition in Scotland of players gathering together from far and wide for the enjoyment of themselves and their audience. Members of the SFO will have travelled from areas as far apart as the north of Scotland and the south west of England for the event. Some of their regular audience are expected to travel similar distances to hear them. This is a unique event for Nottingham.

Although in traditional styles, much of the Orchestra’s music has been written or arranged in recent years. Items of note in the programme for 25th April include:

A heart-rending slow air, played by soloist and Golden Fiddle winner Yla Steven, entitled “The Flower of Portencross.” It relates to a small port in Ayrshire where the bodies of former kings of Scotland were embarked for burial on the island of Iona. The emotive music was composed by the Orchestra’s founder, John Mason MBE, who is well known in traditional circles for his slow airs.

The Frank Jamieson Two-Step celebrates a well known composer of fiddle tunes from Shetland, and is characteristic of some of the energetic music of that area.

The SFO will be joined by the Pipe Band for the “Keltic Odyssey”. This piece blends two traditional tunes “O Waly Waly” and “Carrickfergus” better known as “The Water is Wide”. These pieces are both Celtic, and have similar origins. John Mason’s arrangement weaves strands of them together between the pipes and Orchestra. Another piece for Pipe Band and Orchestra is “Rose of Galloway”, also composed by John Mason, which celebrates the beautiful scenery of the area and the romance which inspired writers such as Robert Burns.

“The Drummers” features the percussion section of the Orchestra. Based on a traditional 16 bar reel the torrents of notes from the fiddles are linked with an exciting solo break for kit and bass drum players.

“Inisheer” was written in the 1970’s on the smallest of the Aran Islands in Galway bay. The arrangement features the orchestra’s flute section and recalls the peace and tranquillity of the area.

These pieces are complemented with music based on Scottish dance rhythms, songs from soloists Dennis Haggerty (tenor) and Colette Ruddy (soprano), and a solo spot from our Scottish dancers. Conductor Blair Parham has directed and performed with Scottish ensembles in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, China and North America, including a concert at The White House.

Sponsored by Edradour Whisky, The SFO promises an evening of joy and entertainment. Audiences in areas visited regularly by the SFO come back year after year. For anyone who is not familiar with this branch of Scottish music it promises to be an eye-opening and delightful evening.

There will be a retiring collection for Maggie’s Centre Nottingham. Maggie’s is a Scottish charity which supports people living with cancer, and it has recently opened centres throughout the UK.