On Saturday, 11th February in St Mary’s Church, Inverurie Music presented the Bardic Trio in its first concert of the New Year. Jamie MacDougall (tenor), Sharron Griffiths (harp) and Matthew McAllister (guitar) entertained a capacity audience with a medleyof songs, pieces and poetry from the British Isles with a Celtic flavour.
Jamie MacDougall is well known in broadcasting circles. He presents ‘Grace Notes’ and ‘Classics Unwrapped’ and has anchored the BBC Proms in the Park as part of the Last Night of the Proms Festivities. Three songs by Alasdair Nicolson (b 1961) were a suitable launching pad for his singing in terms of compass, expression and communication with the audience.
Matthew is widely appreciated as a classical guitarist throughout Europe. As an effective contrast, he held the audience spellbound with his rendition of ‘Farewell to Stromness’ by Peter Maxwell Davies (1934-2016). This was originally written for piano. In the arrangement he delighted the audience with his mastery of his instrument and his sensuous and lingering evocation of the emotions of the title.
Another change of mood came as we were led by Sharron Griffiths from the calm and grey tides of Orkney to the lush landscape of the Welsh valleys. In a cascade of arpeggios, she displayed the powerand brilliance of her concert pedal harp with an introductory piece, “Watching the Wheat”, by John Thomas (1826-1913). This was followed by a selection of traditional melodies and songs, two of which were arranged by Eddie McGuire. Jamie gave a splendid rendition of an extract from the well-loved ‘Under Milk Wood.’
Thomas Moore (1779-1852) was a poet, singer and satirist that can lay claim to being the Irish counterpart of Robert Burns. His best-known songs were, like Burns, traditional songs fashioned with his own lyrics, but he also wrote his own material and was a very popular singer in and around London. Smiles were noticed on many a face when Jamie “unearthed” three familiar songs in his cheerful style, especially “Minstrel Boy”.
The Eddie McGuire arrangements of Burns songs were a fitting end to the concert. As the instruments were tuned up between numbers, Jamie made some wistful observations about a nearby village (which shall remain nameless) in his Glaswegian off-the- cuff style of humour. By this time the audience knew what to expect in terms of musicality: beautiful contrasts of colour, from the delicate caress of ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ to the racing triplets of ‘The De’il’s awa’ wi’ th’ exciseman.’ It concluded with a stalwart ‘For a’that an a’ that’ and as an encore ‘Castle Gordon.’ A standing ovation gave them top marks but it has to be said that every mark should be doubled for the Trio’s interaction with the audience, injecting life into live music.
Finally, thanks are due to the volunteers of St Mary’s Church for providing teas and cakes at the interval.