Freelance writer specialising in music, film, travel, sustainability and human rights. @Jas_Crittenden
An extravaganza of Scottish songs, dance and humour
For over a decade now, Scotland The Brave has been bringing an annual spectacle of Scottish music, dance and humour to Australia, New Zealand and the US. Despite such a long run, the show has lost none of its freshness or verve.
Central to this is the repertoire. Classics, including 'Go, Lassie, Go', 'Ye Banks and Braes' and 'Auld Lang Syne', have been sung around roaring fires and in pub rooms for decades, if not, centuries. On a formal stage, they gain in grandeur, yet maintain their warmth and familiarity.
In Sydney, where the show appeared at the Opera House on 26 August 2017, tenor Gregory Moore (Ten Tenors, La Forza) and soprano Cheryl Barker (English National Opera, Hamburg State Opera) took the leads. It isn't always easy for vocalists steeped in the formalities of classical training to deliver folk songs authentically, yet both Moore and Barker did so, underpinning their exceptional technical facility with the expressiveness and earthiness necessary to convincing storytelling. In Brisbane, where the show takes place at QPAC on Saturday 21 October, Barker's role will be performed by Mirusia (Andre Rieu).
Adding humour and charm to the mix was fiddler Marcus Holden. At various moments, with apparent spontaneity, he wandered on stage, made a joke or two, then launched into a fierce instrumental. Meanwhile, pipe major Andrew Fuller's (four-time Australian pipe band champion) powerful tone transported listeners immediately to some far-off, misty highland.
Providing context and depth, as well as joining the audience in several rousing sing-alongs, was the Willoughby Symphony Choir, accompanied by the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sean O'Boyle. The Scots College contributed an impressive marching band, while the OzScot Australia Highland Dancers (eight-time performers at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo) delivered energetic interpretations of traditional dances.
The Brisbane shows will feature the QPAC Choir, the Queensland Pops Orchestra and the Emmanuel College Highlanders.
Scotland The Brave is produced by Andrew McKinnon. Tickets for the QPAC shows are available online.