The Ironworks, Inverness
A night that celebrated trad’s history and its future, this collaborative effort between Rant and Fèis Rois offered a chance to watch some of the region’s most promising musicians be put through their paces.
In the intimate surroundings of an Ironworks set up especially for the evening – the stage set up changed to close in the venue’s cavernous space, cabaret seating set up – a brief introduction by Fèis chief executive Fiona Dalgetty precluded an evening split into two halves.
Its first half saw Rant up by themselves, the four fiddlers – Shetland sisters Jenna and Bethany Reid, and Fortrose locals Lauren MacColl and Anna Massie – play through a set that splits between compositions from their two albums and old tunes dredged up from the traditional songbooks.
Stripping trad of all other instrumentation – no percussion, no guitar – other than these four fiddles, it’s impossible not to admire the playing – the lightning fast finger work through the Shetland reels, or the way the bows skip along the strings for James Scott Skinner’s Strathspeys and hornpipes.
There’s a rush and a drama to the sound as the four fiddle players’ parts swoop and cross and dovetail – a sound that only amplifies in the second half, as the 12 young Fèis fiddlers join Rant on stage.
That sound is huge, as you would imagine from 16 fiddlers playing four parts – each note combining to fill every square inch of space in the city venue.
And Fèis Rois’s young musicians were put through their paces, as they performed through 5/4 time signatures and lightning reels and kept perfect time through plucking pizzicato strings.
Watching them keep up with every note of each Rant member’s virtuousic playing, the thought occurred that the future of traditional music is in very safe hands indeed.
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