What a start to Cowal Music Club's first live concert of 2017 when the Bardic Trio, Jamie MacDougall, tenor, Sharron Griffiths, harp and Matthew McAllister, guitar, played to a packed Hanover Street Hall last Sunday afternoon. Their professionalism and musicianship certainly cheered the audience up on a dreach Sunday afternoon. They opened with three Burn's songs arranged by Scottish composer Eddie McGuire, who is no stranger to Cowal Music Club. He was the composer that the club commissioned to commemorate the club's 70 years a couple of years ago and he enjoys coming to be part of the audience whenever artists play his compositions.
The Trio started with 'The Winter It Is Past' which introduced the audience to Jamie's agile voice capable of seamless transitions from lower register to mellifluous high register. He then followed with 'The De'ils Awa Wi' The Exciseman' when his voice rang out with thrilling intensity and, finely, he finished with a heartfelt interpretation of 'Ae Fond Kiss' that displayed a variety of tone including singing of the finest delicacy showing richness and the ability to convey feelings. Eddie's arrangement, without a doubt, was melodic and so accomplished and the trio's playing flawless. Matthew's playing 'Farewell to Stromness' by Peter Maxwell Davies was mesmerising and riveting. Next it was Sharron's turn who introduced the audience to a selection of Welsh songs opening with a breathtaking harp performance of John Thomas's 'Watching The Wheat' The first half finished with a haunting interpretation of 'Ar Hyd Y Nos' ( All through the Night), again arranged by Edde McGuire, and sung by Jamie with elegant phrasing and haunting effects. The second half started with a selection of Irish pieces beginning with 'My Gentle Harp' played by Matthew and ending with Jamie's rendition of 'Minstrel Boy' by Thomas Moore. The concert finished with a selection of songs by Burns, again arranged by Eddie McGuire, starting with 'Rattlin' Roarin' Willie', 'The Slaves Lament' and the wonderful but highly emotional 'For All That An' All That' that produced a wonderful combination of harp, guitar and tenor. The ovation from the audience said it all as they stamped their feet and clapped refusing to let the Trio leave the stage.