Something for all ages in festival

Falkirk Festival Chorus
Falkirk Festival Chorus

From adventurous polar bears to top class sopranos, this year’s Tryst Festival is promising a ‘feast of creativity’ for all ages.

In February, the festival organisers in Falkirk’s Arts and Civic Council attended a civic reception in the municipal buildings to mark the 50th anniversary of the festival.

But after celebrating that milestone, this year is about looking forward to what they promise will be one of the biggest and most diverse Tryst Festivals in recent years.

The fortnight of culture kicked off last Saturday with a parade of entertainers, and runs until May 29 when Tryst Orchestra brings it to a close.

While much has changed over the decades, its core aim is still the same.

The festival is organised by local arts groups coming together to provide a platform for the arts in the Falkirk area.

“It’s all about the creativity of Falkirk groups. There’s a very strong creative base here,” says festival organiser Stuart Miller.

This year, among the hugely varied programme are events aimed at taking the festival to the heart of the community.

For older children and adults alike, one of Scotland’s finest storytellers comes to the Howgate as Andy Cannon performs the superb Tales Of A Grandson.

This is one man’s re-telling of Scotland’s history – but it is no straight and dusty history lesson and his skills are complemented by the accompaniment of musician Wendy Weatherby.

This event is free, so it’s well worth dropping by for and the shopping centre will also be music and clay workshops, all bringing the arts to a wider audience.

Another free event that is well worth a look is the Arts and Civic Council’s exhibition of paintings it has collected over the years.

Stuart explained: “Every year Falkirk Art Club holds an exhibition and sale and every year the Arts and Civic Forum buys one or two.

“This year, for the first, time they will be showing them. Many of them are lovely images of Falkirk, so it should be of great local interest.”

Stuart is a familiar face on the local arts scene as one of the driving forces behind the success of Falkirk Folk Club, so it’s no surprise that the Folk Club’s contribution is a very strong one.

They have invited one of Scotland’s best female vocalists, Karen Matheson of Celtic super-group Capercaillie, to perform at Falkirk Town Hall on Friday, May 20.

Sharing the bill with her are members of Carroncast, local musicians who are thrilled to have the opportunity to play alongside such a well established professional.

The folk club also welcomes one of the most exciting new bands to emerge on the traditional music scene.

Dallahan play Falkirk Town Hall in the company of two of Falkirk’s own music projects – the brilliant young musicians in The Falkirk Trad Group and Carroncast

It’s this blend of amateurs and professionals that is marking this year’s festival out as bigger and better than ever.

Said Stuart: “The groups involved operate with a level of professionalism. The shows they put on are high calibre and high quality.”

He points to Falkirk Festival Chorus, who will open the festival with a rousing performance of Carl Orff’s famous Carmina Burana.

“Falkirk Festival Chorus will be performing with amazing professional singers and it will be a fantastic night,” said Stuart.

Joining the local singers in the chorus will be pianists Jean Hutchison and Peter Alexander as well as soprano Alison McNeill, tenor Kenneth Reid and baritone Phil Gault.

“It’s a real mixture of stuff we have and we hope everyone will find something they can enjoy,” said Stuart.

“We’ve got a show called The Polar Bears Go Up’, which is for ages two to five as well as some great amateur youth theatre.

“We’ve got jazz, folk, classical and blues – and we’ve also got Barbara Bryceland, who’s got a cabaret style .

“We’ve even got a Scotch & Wry night at the town hall! And the Magic Circle night with Elliot Bibby is always great entertainment.”

The youth drama offering includes Project Theatre, who present the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, while Sunny Stars will perform An Evening of Fairy Tales.

Central Scotland Ballet School bring their innovative dance routines to Falkirk with a new show, It’s Time To Shine.

And the stalwarts of Falkirk’s local arts scene will also take the chance to showcase their work.

Falkirk Writers Circle will set some of their writing to music, with the help of the musicians of Chapter Four. They are teaming up again for a one-day writers seminar at the Park Hotel.

Bringing the fortnight to a close is Tryst Orchestra who will perform their annual spring concert at the town hall, with a mixture of light classics and Scottish music.

Meanwhile, in the Tolbooth Tavern, the Folk Club has a closing session to mark the end of a busy fortnight.