Long-awaited Falkirk Music Pot

Brian McNeill oversees the final Falkirk Music Pot rehearsal''Picture: Michael Gillen
Brian McNeill oversees the final Falkirk Music Pot rehearsal''Picture: Michael Gillen

Stirring was a word used a lot at last week’s world premiere of the long-awaited Falkirk Music Pot.

Whether it was to stir the imaginary pot that storyteller Yvonne Manning conjured up at the start of the proceedings or the effect the musical performances by Falkirk Bairns – of all ages – had on the appreciative audience, it was definitely the word of the moment.

Last Wednesday’s event in Falkirk Town Hall was the culmination of over 12 months planning, writing and rehearsing.

The catalyst for all the work was the area securing a Creative Places Award in 2014. The Falkirk Music Pot was one of three projects created as part of the programme from that entitled ‘Acts of Discovery’ which all look at culturally engaging people, whether it be those who live here, those passing through or engaging with the world.

The name of the project comes from the three-legged iron cooking pots produced in local foundries in the 1800s and exported to Africa and around the world.

It also draws parallels with the sharing of songs, music and stories that historically marked the end of the Falkirk Trysts, the area’s cattle markets in the 18th and 19th centuries.

With this in mind it seemed fitting that the first song performed on the night was ‘Lads ‘O The Fair’ by Brian McNeill. The multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter had thrown himself wholeheartedly into the Music Pot project, including writing The Kelpies Suite, six pieces of music inspired by the district’s new iconic landmarks.

A Falkirk Bairn, Brian has spent most of his working life away from the town, initially with The Battlefield Band and more recently as a solo artist travelling the world performing to appreciative audiences.

However, there could be few more responsive than this hometown crowd last week. But who could fail to be amazed at the depth of the talent on display.

As well as Brian and adult performers including Sylvia Barnes, Willy Thomson and Marc Duff, Falkirk’s talented youngsters were also given their chance in the spotlight.

From the schools ensemble to pipers Emma Buchan and Amy Low they enthralled the audience with their performances, some of which they had written themselves. Special mention to the members of the Falkirk Traditional Musical Project who composed and performed a soundtrack to silent films.

There were also stirring performances from Falkirk Fiddle Workshops and the Sing Forth Community Choir, which only reinforced the message that this area has a plethora of talented individuals and, when they all come together, they make amazing music.

Speaking after the performance, Brian said: “This was definitely one of my musical highlights. From the electric atmosphere backstage to watching the young members of the orchestra play their socks off, it was a great night.”

While praising all the youngsters involved, he singled out drummer Jack Gibson, a Graeme High pupil, for special mention.

He played the djembe, an African drum, an instrument far removed from the drum kit he usually played with his rock band.

Brian added: “Young people often get a bad name but this young man worked hard and I’m sure has a future in the music business.

“I walked out of the town hall a happy man and Falkirk is walking a little bit taller after this.”