THE SCOTCH CONCERT.
[By SOUTHESK.] Not every day does the Caledonian Society bulk in the public eye, but when it does make a public appeararide it is usually one worth mentioning, if it be for nothing but the stir it causes. We have hitherto known the Caledonian Societies of the Colonies chiefly as being the organising bodies of meetings for athletic contests, and the public seem naturally to look to the Caledonian Societies to provide such meetings. It is not often that in-door entertainments are essayed by them, and when these are undertaken they are always of a character that is essentially Scotch. Recently, however, the Caledonians have taken another departure, and 'during the last two months or so Scotch entertainments have not been uncommon in various parts of the colony. , The Ashburon Society saw their way to pull off a successful entertainment of a purely Scotch character, and essayed the task of getting it up. Thursday brought round the consummation of their work, and to witness it the largest audience eVey crowded together in Ashburton attended. For a fortnight previously the country people had been securing tickets, afict at a very early period after the first announcement of the. concert, front: seat: tickets were difficult to obtain, ,while the second and back seat tickets were at a discount. An arrangement was made' by which ticket holders, if they attended at the hall before half-past seven, would he able to secure seats, and quite a crowd profited by the arrangement and were there in time. At half-past seven tickets began to be sold at the door., and long before eight o’clock, all the scanty seat room in the hall was appropriated. “A nod is as good as a wink,” &c;, and the Town Hall Company ought fo take the,hint. After introductory addresses by-the President and Vice-President of the. Society—Mr ' M. Stitt and Dr been delivered, in which ,the objects of the Caledonian; Society were detailed by the one, and the ’ characteristics of the Scottish people by the other, }Piper Murdoch Elder struck up a lively quickstep, on the pipes with all. the “ virr” of which lie is so well known to be possessed. Then the clans’ dancers (Messrs Kidd, Reid, M‘Rae and M‘Duff) took the stage to Murdoch’s strain and performed a rousing, reef wjith all the needful go. Then Mißs Kidd,;in perfect Scottish style, poured. from' the piano a shower . of .lively reels and; strathspeys, ' that seemed to find out all the soft places in the Scottish hearts amongst the audience,‘and drew forth hearty,.'applause. The clans, with their claymores l , heading a party of 1 singers, ’made the usual •claymore salute, after which “ Scots wha hae” was l sung. We ‘ got into the marrow of the entertainment when Mrs Craighead feelingly warbled * Auld Robin Gray,’ and got the applause she deserved. A thoroughly Scotch song, and. always popular was then sung by Mr. Craighead, “ Scotland yet,” better known, however, by its first line “ gae bring may guidauld harp ance mair. ” Mr. Craighead was very successful with this song, !as its, hearty reception proved. : V Tam 6’ Shanter” should have been read here, but wasn’t—no great mistake, seeing how time was flying. Then came the gem of the evening, as it is the gem of Scotland’s warlike minstrelsy;—•“ The 1 -Macgregors’ Gathering.” Had . Ashburton County been canvassed for a Celt, with voice and power sufficient to assay this ‘song, he could not have been found, and Mr. G. D. Branson merits the Society’s, thanks for undertaking the best bit of Scotch music to he found from the Spey to the Nith. He glided through tile softer passages with the, voice of a seraph, . and declaimed the angry defiance of the Mac-, gregors with the tones of an archangel. The “ house came dbwri,” as it must, and he had to sing his song again. Mr Branson sings the Macgregors in a stylo that John Wilson and Kennedy themselves could not have surpassed even in their best days. Mr. Donald Campbell was the next performer, with a Song in the native Gaelic. There were not a. great many ih the audience who understood what he sang, those who didn’t will accept the assurance that it was a very well sung song indeed.JFol-. lowing the Gaelic lilt > came ■ the; “ I|amik’: ,0’ oor Door,” an old humorous; Scotch ballad with a barbarous' chorus.; After this-pawky tale in song had been‘told, and caused its share of amusement, Mr J. W. M‘Rao danced “ Ghiiie Galium,” the sword dance, with grace and; accuracy, having only once palpably touched the hilts. After the interval Miss Kidd played.,the well known piece entitled “Jessie’s Dream,” descriptive of the relief of . Lucknow., Then the dancers intro,duped, their comrade,: Pelviu' M‘Duff, who. danced the Highland , fling. Mr Macduff is a fine, specimen of a “ Highland laddie,” and is a .most graceful daqcer. It is not.too much to say that if he appears on. the Society’s platform on Boxing day, they will come from far awa’ hills that will beat.him. Mrs. Dunn was a little nervous,’ but was able to throw a considerable. amount of feeling into “ The Auld Scotch sangs,” and “The Land o’the Leal,” both of which gongs she sang in the second, part. Mr. jGraighead. substituted, ,the . ‘‘ Braes .0’ Mar ”, for the “ Cameron; Men,” a fair exchange which was .certainly no., robbery. After him came Mr. Branson, in quite a new role, but he trolled out to perfection the old Jacobite ditty “ Wha.wadna fecht for Charlie,” and the most rabid Highlander in Ashburton is quite willing to believe that Mr. Branson' is a Scotchman, and will be only too proud to be told so. Mr. Branson, of course, had to sing of Charlie again. At a later period he enforced upon, the dense crowd an intense stillness by his rendering of the
sweetly pathetic “ Rowan Tree,” a song that, in the hands of a fair singer, cannot fail to call up memories of “hameand infancy,” and the up-turned faces of those in the hall while Mr. Branson sang told their own-Hale. After Mr. Branson’s touching song came 'something of another kind. Two ladies entered in the costume of the Ncwhaven fishivives. As they entered imitation of the ’ caller nerrin’cry, which was the signal for a burst of applause, that was vociferously renewed between every verse of “ Caller Herrin’ ” which song they gave in a style that would have pleased old Neil Cow himself. Of -course the song was encored, and kindly repeated. The ladies have,to be complimented on their costume, which was a ,fair copy of the.picturesque dress of the ’’Newhaveri vendors herrings, only the >‘ r creels” were a little out, but the makeshifts were as near an approach to the originals as the district can produce. Burns’ roystering song, ‘‘ Willie Brewed a Peck o’ Maut,” was done in trio by Messrs Caird, Craighead, and Dunn, the picture they produced of the “ three merry boys ” in hodden gray, “ boosing at the nappy till the moon gaed harae ” was complete. Mr. Caird gave as an encore song the “ Tinklers’ wedding,” which drew forth shrieks of laughter and a storm of applause. The reel o’ Tulloch by the clans, and “ Auld lang syne ” by the company, preceded the National Anthem and the largest crowd that ever assembled in Ashburton dispersed, only, however, to re-assemble in great part at least for the dance that took place afterwards. This notice cannot, be closed without a Learty compliment to the Highlanders on their reel dancing. Pour smarter fellows, more neatly put in tartan could not have been brought to-' jgether. i
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