From Bede Williams challenging us with the question ‘New Music – Why Bother?’ at the dinner discussion opener, through to Roger Cull’s now traditional jazz party finale, this was a feast of concerts, recitals and gatherings. The new St Joseph’s Hall hosted not only a ceilidh with local band Sporrandipity – get to one of their gigs if you can! – but also recitals provided by local piano students, artistes from Balerno High School, Dean Park Primary and Harmeny Schools and well-loved local pianists, in a new series of lunchtime concerts at the Mill. Local musicians also appeared at the Young Musicians Concert in the Parish Church, and overall we estimate that over 100 local musicians and choristers were involved in performances at the 5th Festival.
The Church had already hosted Alba Brass with Pentland Singers (including Pentland Junior Singers) on Friday 5th, in a combination of new and better-known pieces, with Bede Williams and Alba showing exactly why we should bother with new music. Starting with Henry VIII’s ‘Pastime with Good Company’ we were treated to the ‘Pilgrims’ Chorus’ from Tannhäuser and Howard Goodall’s setting of ‘The Lord is My Shepherd’, before Alba Brass took us on a journey from Rodriguez (La Cumprasita) to ‘Libertango’ by Astor Piazzolla, via Martin Green’s ‘Souch’ and Quigley’s ‘Shorthand of Emotion’.
Grant Baynham and Jim Malcolm had feet stamping at the Bowling Club with the Balerno Folk Club Festival Concert, Jim playing his haunting ‘Battle of Waterloo’ along with many other favourites. All this, only a week after the same venue had hosted Motown Magic to rave reviews in the Bowling Club’s Festival Cabaret, and a week before Yvonne Lyon gave an absolutely stunning performance in the St Mungo’s Church Festival Concert.
The Folk Club also migrated to a packed Grey Horse for the Open Folk Session while at the sametime hosting their children’s festival event – Mr Boom – at the Bowling Club. Fun Time Harmonies ran a popular workshop for aspiring young musicians, and Fischy Music performed at St Joseph’s Hall in what some called the best event of the Festival. Others gave that accolade to the Tourie Band, making their secondvisit to the Balerno Music Festival with their unforgettable team: compere Jim McColl, singer Collette Ruddy and, new for 2012, spellbinding 15-year-old piper Andrew Brodlie, who went on the next day to win a Bronze Medal for Strathspey and Reel at the Royal National Mod in Dunoon.
Sunday 14th; the Festival Service at Balerno Parish Church brought Folk Club and other musicians together in traditional celebration, and was followed by a concert by Kailyard from South Leith with a mix of praise music and ’60’s classics, including the Kinks’ ‘Celluloid Star’, and ‘Amazing Grace’ to the tune of House of the Rising Sun. And then it was late on Sunday, and Roger Cull with his band – Alastair Burnett on double bass and Allen Skinner on drums – and with guests Nick Gould (tenor sax) and vocalist Sarah Barron played a barnstormer of a final concert, and it was time to go, reluctantly, out into the rain. Good Festival? Great festival.
Festivals don’t just happen, and this one couldn’t have happened without the absolutely vital crew of amazing volunteers catering, stewarding, decorating, manning the box office, printing programmes and everything else, making it all happen.
Everyone will have their own favourites, but in truth, all the events were brilliant. The great thing is that the Balerno Music Festival really does have something for everybody. Ticket sales of over 1000, not counting free concerts, tell their own tale. Roll on 2013 and the 6th Festival!