Glasgow Letter with Robert Robertson week 05

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Burns at Celtic Connections

Last Thursday, I sang on the BBC Radio Scotland Burns night celebration in the CCA on Sauchiehall Street. Also performing that night were Rachel Newton, and MG Alba Folk Band of the Year, Talisk.

It was a really nice night to celebrate our national bard – hosted by Scottish tenor Jamie MacDougall, and BBC Scotland poet in residence Stuart Paterson.

Òran Nan Gàidheal

The scale of Celtic Connections, built up over the past 25 years, makes certain events achievable that (under most normal circumstances) would be outwith the realms of possibility.

One such event was Òran Nan Gàidheal last Friday night, which saw a host of Gaelic singers perform alongside the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

At the end of the evening, all the singers were in agreement that this was one of the most special concerts we had been involved in. We each sang two songs, and then came together at the end for a couple of singalongs.

Most of the night, however, had been spent with all the artists at the side of the stage watching on and marvelling at the power of the orchestra as one another went on to sing their songs.

The audience were incredibly appreciative and a standing ovation was received after the encore. Needless to say, a second encore was beyond us as you can’t spontaneously throw something together when there is a full orchestra involved.

What gratitude we all have for Donald Shaw for having dreamed up and organised this concert, as well as doing a lot of the orchestral arrangements, and, of course, for Steve Bell for getting such a stunning sound out of his orchestra.

The concert was recorded for BBC Radio 3 and filmed for BBC Alba and, as soon as I know the transmission dates, I will note them here.

Enlightening Tiree Burns supper

For 10,000 people in the Hydro last Saturday night, Bothy Culture and Beyond (featuring Niteworks, Danny MacAskill, and the GRIT orchestra) was a breathtaking evening.

I attended a slightly smaller scale but no less enjoyable evening that night – the Tiree Association Burns supper.

Highlights included a very interesting, light-hearted, and informative Immortal Memory speech and toast by writer Mike Hughes, who spoke about Burns’s history and poetry and drew comparisons with Sir Walter Scott – while also tying everything in nicely to Tiree itself.

Kenneth MacLeod performed a flawless rendition of the satirical Death and Doctor Hornbook, complete with walking stick and half bottle!

The singing of DI Brown, Catherine Lees, and the playing of myself and John Omand completed the evening; not forgetting the competitive table singing which was absolutely hilarious.

It was a very enjoyable evening in great company.

Take the Floor!

Sunday night was a great evening of dancing as Take the Floor recorded live from Celtic Connections – to be broadcast this Saturday.

I was delighted, honoured and nervous in equal measure to play my first Take the Floor broadcast with the hastily thrown together Robert Robertson Dance Band. I say hastily thrown together on account of the fact I had only played with fiddler Graham MacKenzie for the first time that morning!

Alasdair MacCuish and his group were the other band and Gary Innes did a wonderful job in steering things along.