14 May 2015

A Message from the SFO President, Bill Cook

Hello folks.

This is a quick update, following our AGM (05 April 2015), on what has been a very exciting year for the orchestra.

Concerts, personnel, programmes and plans

From a presidential standpoint, it’s great to see so many enthusiastic younger players coming into the orchestra and the standard of playing just seems to get better and better. This is reflected in the attendances at our concerts, which are showing very positive signs of improvement. The Hogmanay concert in Edinburgh was a virtual sell-out, as was Perth, and this was followed by excellent concerts in Aberdeen and Nottingham. This was our first visit to Nottingham and, with the vibrant atmosphere and the welcome we received, it is more than likely it won’t be our last. All round, the feedback is very encouraging.

In the course of the last year we introduced Jamie McDougall, the well-known broadcaster and tenor, into our singing team. Jamie is an old friend, from the famous Australian tour by the SFO with Caledon, the Three Tenors, which forged many lasting friendships, so it’s grand to have him back with us.

On a more sombre note we lost the services of Jim McColl, our compère for many years, who has decided to stand down. This left a huge gap, but we are fortunate in finding Robert Lovie, a well-known broadcaster and musician from the North East who has stepped into the breach and done a wonderful job. He joined us for his first concert at Perth in February and has since appeared with us again in Aberdeen and Nottingham.

On the musical side, the new programme reflects information gleaned from the last series of concerts. The most obvious change is the introduction of the SFO Folk Session, led by Julie Carrie, which has replaced the Glee Club. It was clear that our audience want to see younger players featuring and the session achieves this, being very well received, and it will no doubt thrive over our coming concerts. Being a “session”, I think we can expect the introduction of faster and faster pieces!

Also, this year we will be working closely with STV, supporting the STV Appeal as our charity partner. We are keen to help raise as much as possible for this most worthy of causes.

We look forward to playing the Alhambra Theatre in Dunfermline on 3rd October. This fine old theatre is most enthusiastic about our playing there again. This should strengthen our core audiences around Fife, Stirlingshire, Falkirk and North Edinburgh.

We are currently investigating a trip to Orkney and we will keep you informed of progress on this matter.

Board changes

Our administration and marketing teams continue to develop and we have a strong board, working well together. We welcomed new administrators Susie Donlevy and Catriona McLean, who have embraced the Edinburgh Concerts with great gusto.

We also are introducing Jim Kerr and John Wallace into the Treasurer’s department, taking over from Graham Brown, who is standing down. Many of you won’t have met Graham, but he has been a tower of strength since taking over from Willie Johnstone and the orchestra are most grateful to him for his outstanding contribution.

Also standing down are Sara MacDoka, now a mum of twins, and David Lunt, who has been Administrator South for the past twenty concerts in England. Nottingham was his last one. We thank both Sara and David for all their hard work on behalf the orchestra.


Blackadders Solicitors (Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Perth) have kindly agreed to come on board as a sponsor of the orchestra, joining our main sponsor, Edradour Whisky, and Walkers Shortbread. We are most appreciative of the support provided by these companies towards the running of the SFO.

To sum up, it is a very interesting time for the SFO. The future looks bright and, with your help and support, we will continue to develop as Scotland ’s National Fiddle Orchestra.

I look forward to meeting you at our upcoming concerts.

Bill Cook