15 April 2016

The SFO Returns to Nottingham

The SFO returned to Nottingham for a concert in the Royal Concert Hall on 09 April 2016. Orchestra members arrived from all over the UK by car, bus, train and plane.

A novel feature of our promotion of the concert was the use of advertising space on East Midlands buses – as illustrated here by the SFO’s own left-handed fiddler, Campbell Smith.


For the concert, we were joined by Robert Lovie as compere, Colette Ruddy and Dennis Haggerty as singers, the Nottinghamshire Police Pipe Band and, within the orchestra, by 11-year-old Yla Lloyd from Leicester.

The programme highlights featured the perennial favourite for orchestra and pipes, “Highland Cathedral” as well as “Macpherson’s Farewell”, which was apt in the circumstances given that the notorious outlaw, James Macpherson, has (among other things) been described as “The Robin Hood of the North”.

Our dancers, Catriona and Marnie Clark, assisted by SFO piper (and fiddler), Martin Duncan, were as energetic and entertaining as ever. The SFO Session’s set paired the relaxed “Minstrel Boy” with the driving reel “Toss the Feathers” to great effect.

The raffle, featuring fantastic prizes of “Fairy Flag” Malt Whisky, donated by our sponsors, Edradour Distillery, was possibly unique in SFO history in that it included 2 unclaimed prizes. Blair (Parham, our conductor) and Robert assured the audience that unclaimed prizes are customarily shared between the compere and the conductor.

Dennis and Colette sang a duet as their final solo contribution to the concert, breathing new life into an old favourite – “The Crookit Bawbee” – and illustrating their infectious sense of fun.

The concert closed with Auld Lang Syne and the audience seemed reluctant to leave before hearing all of the orchestra’s outro set of Swinging Reels.

The bucket collection at the end of the concert was in aid of Maggie’s, Nottingham.

Ceilidh and beyond

Orchestra members were staying at the nearby Crowne Plaza Hotel and we went on to have a very enjoyable ceilidh, under the direction of the SFO’s Ceilidh Master, Jim Brodlie. There was a packed floor for each dance and the breaks featured turns from Marnie and Catriona, and Dennis and Colette. Uniquely, we also had magical entertainment from magician, Magic Mike, and a variation on The Proclaimers’ “Letter from America” from orchestra members Susie, Catriona and Bob.

The music session continued in the bar afterwards and members of the orchestra were playing tunes and singing songs until well after 3am.

Special thanks are due to Jim Brodlie, as SFO Administrator for the concert.

Thank you to everyone who came to the concert and for being such a fantastic audience. It may be a couple of years before the SFO returns to Nottingham but we will definitely be back sometime.