The Bruce 700 / Daimh

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

28th Jan

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I love the skirl of the pipes and that is what was delivered by Allan MacDonald in his landmark orchestral piece The Bruce 700. It is a sound-picture, commissioned originally to mark the 700 anniversary of Bannockburn. It begins by celebrating the life of Robert the Bruce, features the Battle of Bannockburn with vivid evocation of the action, then moves to the lamenting of the after conflict keening and finally expands into the growing realisation that a great battle has been won and a new Scotland forged.

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Emotionally supercharged especially when a young troop of pipers and drummers, from Stirling youth music groups, take the stage. It is a fantastic work let down by only two things, the audience participative song at the end which should be a rousing call to freedom, but it doesn’t have enough oomph! and the words are simply not anthemic. This brings me to the other problem the piece finishes with this paean, and, when the last note sounded, there was a considerable pause before the audience realised the work was completed and we should clap. About half the audience gave a standing ovation (including me), but it could have been so much better with a rousing ending.

The support act was a Gaelic named group ‘Daimh’ pronounced ‘dive’, comprising four super-talented traditional musicians on mandolin, fiddle, guitar and pipes. Twice nominated for Folk Band of the Year at the Scots Traditional Music Awards, they regaled a foot-tapping audience, with reels, songs and tunes written for each other or commemorating places dear to them.
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Gaelic champion, Griogair Labhruidh, who also featured as one of the soloists in The Bruce 700, complimented the lineup by both singing and then reciting some of his poetic work to the background of stirring new/traditional music. Prefacing their music with humour and anecdotes it was a pleasure to listen to them.

Reviewer : Marc Sherland

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