Next weekend is Big Guitar Weekend, Scotland’s guitar event of the year. Housed in the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (map here) and directed by Allan Neave, it comprises courses, master classes and concerts.
The artists involved can be seen on the event’s dedicated website. Those involved include, Paul Galbraith, Pavel Steidl and Haddington’s own Malcolm MacFarlane. You can see a photo-stream of some of the people and places involved here.
Sadly, I’m going to miss most of this as I’ll be preparing for the launch of this:
The attendant website, www.loveburns.co.uk goes live on 5 Nov.
I’m just back from what has now become an annual East Lothian charity event, organised by our very own Maxine Wilson on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support. Instrumental Instructors in East Lothian schools put forward soloists and small groups for two (different) programmes. Tonight’s – the first of two – was sold out. I had two hats this evening: one as accompanist for former NBHS singer, Zoe Moskal-Guy, and the other directing a small group of MGS guitarists.
By coincidence, I sent off today the master of Love Burns – an album featuring Zoe and me, along with some very special guests. In a few weeks 1,000 copies will be delivered and the website www.loveburns.co.uk will go live. Watch this space…
Playing with the small MGS group (7 pupils) was a treat. We played a piece which we aired in 2010’s East Lothian Showcase Concert – that time with a much bigger group – around 40 players. With only 7, everyone can hear one another and it’s possible to play in a much freer way, without the necessity of a rigid beat to keep together. I was extremely proud of their sensitive performance – and grateful to all for cheerfully giving up their evening for this worthy cause. Many thanks to all involved.
This was the 2nd nice event of the week, coming a few days after Sunday’s ELjam Showcase Concert in the Brunton Theatre. It’s nice to see pupils (and staff) from across the county coming together in such positive settings.
Yesterday I accompanied a small group of NBHS pupils to the 18th Commonwealth Forestry Conference held in the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC). This short promotional video gives some idea of what the conference is about:
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Our remit was to round the opening ceremony with some culture of the host country and we performed four songs by Robert Burns. As a result of various trips we were reduced to a skeleton crew (4 missing from a group of 7 seniors) and I was really impressed with the pupils’ ability to cope with the extra pressure – not the least of which was the jetlag experienced by one pupils who had returned from a school trip to China the previous evening! This pressure was in no small way reduced by the quiet, friendly and assured professionalism of the EICC team who were fantastic. The sound in the venue was clear as a bell and it was a pleasure to play there.
The Lea Rig:
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John Anderson My Jo; Ca’ The Yowes; The Deil’s Awa’ Wi’ The Excise Man:
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Many thanks to Libby Jones for inviting us to play and to Caroline Davis for minibus driving, filming, recording and general joie de vivre.
Thanks also to Zoë (vocals) who, in her last two years of life at NBHS, transformed the life of the senior Guitar Ensemble members. In that time we’ve done more gigs in and out of school than one could ever have imagined. We’d all like to wish her luck with her musical future.
Although the end of term finished, somewhat frustratingly, with the Knox Spring Concert having to be postponed* due to weather conditions, the NBHS Spring Concert was a great success.
The Guitar Ensemble opened their set with Choro: choro (right-click red link to download)
Then Zoe, who has worked with us extensively over the last two years, joined us for two songs by Robert Burns:
The Lea Rig (some mic noise interrupted Verse 1 and so this fades in at Verse 2): the-lea-rig1 (right-click red link to download)
The Deil’s Awa’: the-deils-awa (right-click red link to download)
Although public, in-school engagements are pretty much over for NBHS pupils this term, we are hoping to represent the school at the 18th Commonwealth Forestry Conference on 28 June. Performing music of the host country at this event would be a great honour for us in addition to being a great end to the school year.
* the Knox Spring Concert has been rescheduled and will take place at 19:00 on Tuesday 20 Apr – the day we return to school
My friend Martyn McQuade, whom I met in P1 at St. Mary’s Primary School in 1965, runs a studio near Longniddry. He recently offered me some free recording time. I thought it would be nice to capture a few of the songs in which I’d recently accompanied Zoe, of NBHS, in various public appearances.
She Moved Through The Fair she-moved-through-the-fair-2010-01-0
Ca’ The Yowes ca-the-yowes-2010-01-04
Ae Fond Kiss ae-fond-kiss-2010-01-04
John Anderson My Jo john-anderson-2010-01-04
Zoe will be appearing, along with seven guitar pupils, in two further Burns’ Songs at the NBHS PTA Burns Supper this coming Friday (29 Jan). Featuring the Robert Black Ceilidh Band, speeches from senior pupils, piping and highland dancing, this is always a great night.
Thanks to Martyn for his recording and mixing savoir faire. Having a pair of trustworthy ears at the desk is priceless.
I was honoured to be able to take part in Sunday’s Saltire celebrations in the fantastic acoustic of St. Mary’s Parish Church, Haddington.
My role was that of accompanist in a performance of Robert Burns’ Ca’ The Yowes sung by Zoe from North Berwick High School (pictured below with performer and MC for the evening, Phil Cunningham).
Zoe shared the bill with very distinguished company: Dougie Maclean; Karen Matheson & Fish. The warmth and encouragement of these seasoned performers was very touching and, I couldn’t help noticing in the afternoon’s sound check, that they seemed to be very impressed as Zoe brought the song to this moving climax: ca-the-yowes-last-3-verses-homecoming-2009-11-29
Judging from the reception, the evening’s audience was similarly moved.