There’s nothing quite so woefully beautiful as the call of a lonely bagpiper. It’s also not something you’d expect to hear on a Thursday evening in Mowbray. This wasn’t just any Thursday, though. This was the night of the Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra performance, in collaboration with the Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
The lone bagpiper called us to the school hall at Rhodes High School, in from a chilly winter’s night. Youngsters flitted by, all in kilts, carrying fiddles of varying sizes, gorgeous Scottish accents filling the spaces. They settled themselves on the stage, and in front of it (there are over a hundred of them, all aged between 10 and 18!) Amongst them, members of the CPYO settled too.
A hundred-plus fiddles and a bagpiper make a spectacular sound, I can now tell you. Opening with Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika and moving onto Pata Pata, conductor David Moore had the audience enthralled. His enthusiasm is entirely infectious.
My Scottish blood stirred as they twirled through marches, jigs and reels, getting the audience tapping their toes and on their feet dancing through the aisles. The Scottish contingent led the South Africans faultlessly, hair flying, whirling around.
Ayrshire is Robert Burns’ country. The beloved Scots poet was a lover of Scottish music and – few people know this – was also a lyricist and composer. His waltzes were brought to life by the AFO (and the audience). Nelson Mandela’s Welcome to Glasgow City also had toes tapping and feet stomping. It’s easy to see why Robbie loved his country’s music so dearly.
A final whirl of music, with the CYPO joining in again, sent us all back out into the winter’s night with our blood rushing, hearts full and cheeks flushed – just like good Scottish lads and lasses.
The Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra performed in collaboration with the Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra at Rhodes High School on 9 July 2015.