The Strathspey Fiddle Orchestra

The Strathspey Fiddle Orchestra

Call for billets proves to be just the ticket

Strathspey Fiddle Orchestra will perform at White Rock Elks Hall July 14 thanks to generous residents who opened up their homes.

A call for billets for the Strathspey Fiddle Orchestra – which performs at White Rock Elks Hall (1469 George St.) July 14 at 7:30 p.m. – couldn’t have been more successful.

Within three days, generous White Rock residents had responded with offers of one night’s accommodation for all members of the group, young musicians, singers and dancers from Moray and West Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

There was just one problem, concert organizer Cheryl Jorgensen reports, with some chagrin. The accommodations weren’t needed after all, as the orchestra already had hotel space paid for.

The problem, it appears, was due to a miscommunication based on cultural differences. When their Canadian contact, Bruce Coughlan of Tiller’s Folly, asked Gary Coull, director of the orchestra, if they wanted billeting, he believed Coughlan was referring to tickets and advertising, rather than roofs over their heads.

“In the Scottish dialect, which has some roots in the old alliance which existed  in the 17th to 19th centuries between Scotland and France, various words have still survived today,” Jorgensen explained.

“One of these is ‘billet,’ which means ticket in France, and still in Scotland – only in the military sense does it mean accommodation!”

All’s well that ends well, as the saying goes. While Jorgensen had to make hurried cancellation calls,  the good news is that the concert is going ahead with all of the orchestra’s 16 fiddlers, plus piano player, cajon (box drum) player and piper.

While some of the group sing and do highland dancing the major part of the performance is fiddle music, played by members whose ages range from 14 to over 60 – although most are in their teens and twenties.

The orchestra was formed to showcase the the talents of some of the best young musicians in their home area, and they play regularly at concerts, ceilidhs and festivals in the region.

The group has also represented Scotland at Celtic festivals and corporate events throughout Britain, the Republic of Ireland, and as far away as Frankfurt in Germany, Kronach in Bavaria, and Texas.

The current two-week tour of the west coast will include performances in Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle.

Tickets ($12.50, seniors and students $10, children $5) are available from 604-538-4016.


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