Margaret Stewart surveyed the stage with a long-suffering air and remarked that she didn't know what her minstrels were going to come out with next.
It did seem at times as if Stewart was presiding over some school of misrule as she presented her well-researched programme of music and songs relating to Highland wedding rituals. But the novelty of having wifely observations about her then husband-to-be's hopes for her dowry's cattle content and a minor verbal skirmish between Lochaber and Eriskay forces during a commissioned work's performance only added to the already high entertainment value.
Stewart compiled and part-composed The Highland Wedding, to give A'Bhanais Ghaidhealach its English title, for last year's Blas! festival of Highland culture, adding melodies of her own to existing songs and dance music to carry the narrative from courtship to feasting. In fact, her story goes from cradle to boudoir, beginning with her own gorgeous singing of a lullaby telling a new-born heir about the glorious wedding that's foreseen for him and incorporating a film of the happy couple's, er coupling – all done in the best possible taste, of course.
Loading article content
Along the way there was superb singing, from an offstage Murdo MacDonald as well as Stewart, and high order playing from Allan Henderson (fiddle and keyboard), Ingrid Henderson (harp), Iain MacFarlane (fiddle, melodeon and whistles) and Angus Nicolson (pipes). Stewart's own pibroch representing yearning, sung in tandem with Nicolson's piping, was especially memorable, showing both real feeling and admirable command immediately following the hilarity caused by the preceding night visit sequence's intentionally mirthful slides and spontaneously irreverent minstrel asides.