To celebrate Scottish music and Scotland's patron saint, the RSNO provided the perfect backdrop and accompaniment for traditional musicians Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain on Friday night. Although the audience was not in party mode from the outset, after a couple of more jig-like tempos the toes were tapping and the hands were – almost – clapping along.
Special guests were frequent and ranged from the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland (who majestically opened the show) to four female students Cunningham teaches at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The rapport he has with his students is visible, with nods, smiles and encouragement on full show.
Julie Fowlis added an ethereal quality with her singing and playing. Wearing silver heels and a St Andrew's tartan fitted coat, the Scottish Gaelic folk singer, now forever associated with the film Brave, gave her finest moment singing My Love Is On the High Seas.
Fiddler Bain had a harder time than his more talkative counterpart, with both bow and a broken violin string working against him on the night, but even that was turned into an excuse for a bit of banter.
Conductor John Logan's own haunting composition Tiree was another musical highlight and the RSNO's Katy MacKintosh's oboe playing for Herr Roloff's Farewell was both tender and heartbreaking – with the tune providing a pleasing trip into the 25-year-plus musical archive of Phil and Aly.