Magnificent Seven pay tribute to a legend

Robyn Stapleton and the Feral Choir.
Robyn Stapleton and the Feral Choir.

A small piece of history was written when an extraordinary song project, featuring seven of Galloway’s most respected musicians, premiered at Stranraer’s Ryan Centre.

Macmath: The Silent Page is a special project commissioned by the Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival which resurrected a number of little known Scottish songs and ballads as well as the man who meticulously recorded them over 100 years ago: William Macmath.

Tuesday’s performance was the culmination of months of work by this group of award-winning musicians who have come to be known as the “Magnificent Seven”: Ali Burns, Emily Smith, Robyn Stapleton, Jamie McClennan, Aaron Jones, Claire Mann and Wendy Stewart.

From the performance, it was difficult to believe that this merry band of busy musicians had very little practice together. From the lively opening number, The Corbie and the Craw, to some truly touching ballads, Johnie Scot and Queen Jeanie, the instruments of Wendy on harp and button accordion; Claire on flute, tin whistle and violin; Jamie on guitar and fiddle; and Aaron on sitar, accompanied the beautiful and melodious voices of Emily and Robyn, who happen to be two of Scotland’s top traditional singers.

Together they produced a slick and seamless concert to the delight of their appreciative crowd.

Helping to create a ‘rousing’ feel to the performance were the concerted voices of the Feral Choir and Swallow Theatre’s David Sumner ably provided the narrative to this truly outstanding and pioneering production.

Programme director, Peter Renwick, said: “It was an amazing, unforgettable evening. It is down to the remarkable talent of these prominent Dumfries and Galloway musicians and the effortless way in which they approach their profession that has made the Macmath project so successful.

“Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival is delighted and privileged to have played a small part in this project and we hope that you will join us for the festival’s grand finale at the Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries, on Sunday to hear this ground-breaking, wonderful performance for the final time with the festival.”

Tickets to the Easterbrook Hall performance are available from the Midsteeple Box Office, Dumfries, on 01387 253383.

The album of Macmath: The Silent Page is in the throes of being recorded and may be pre-ordered from the project website: