WHILE it is understandable that Scotland's national orchestra was chosen to open Scotland's newest concert hall, let's hope that Saturday's gala is a more accurate statement of intent. Rarely have I attended an event with a clearer message. Here was music presented and played as the one true global language - with all the possibilities for hope and reconciliation that contains - by musicians of the very highest calibre.
Usually when we refer to “world music” it refers to sounds from elsewhere in the world. Not here. Directed by virtuoso percussionist Trilok Gurtu, it was firmly rooted in the traditions of the new building's local area. As embodied by, for example, singer Sheila Stewart and the Aberfeldy Gaelic Choir, but spanned the globe. The programme built almost imperceptibly from Stewart's solo Queen Among The Heather, via a sextet fronted by Mridula Desai that swapped eight-bar solos across continents to music for 18 musicians that included a glorious funked-up Killiecrankie before a pipe tune from Rajasthan arranged for an alternative 18, including Tunder Jegede's Kora, a samba band from Perth College and two members of the Herald Angel-winning Vale of Atholl Pipe Band.
There were smaller delights too: Margaret Bennett's unaccompanied Gaelic waulking songs sparring with Gurtu's own native mouth music; Pete Clark's Repertoire of Niel Gow fiddle tunes spiced with Kora and Carlo Cantini's electric violin; Fraser Anderson's specially-written The Fair Maid Smiles given wider resonances by an obligato from Desai, the Indian singer proving to be a superb musician.
That, of course, was what made this concert truly great: the consummate skill of everyone on stage and the complete absence of tokenism in the involvement of the non-professional performers. This was a one-off, a truly special occasion it was a privilege to attend. Let's have more of them.