The History of Leith

October 7, 2004


Thousands of spectators are expected to line the Royal Mile and congregate around the Parliament and its neighbour Our Dynamic Earth, for Saturday’s Opening of the new Scottish Parliament building by Her Majesty The Queen.


The streets around Holyrood in Edinburgh will come alive with entertainment from a range of colourful top performers – including fire eaters, stilt walkers, pipers and drummers.

The packed cultural programme of events unveiled by the Scottish Parliament has something to appeal to all ages, mixing traditional Scottish entertainment with performances which draw inspiration from across the globe.

The entertainment will get under way at 9.15am on the Royal Mile with the Scottish Youth Theatre’s re-enactment of pre-1707 Scotland outside St Giles Cathedral at Parliament Square , and will continue throughout the day, culminating with a pyrotechnics performance in Holyrood’s landscaped gardens just after 5pm. (See full entertainment programme attached).

Bands entertaining the crowds prior to the start of the Riding event down the Royal Mile – an event which will bring together 1,000 people from communities across the country – will include C lan An Drumma, an energetic and rhythmic band from Glasgow who have recently toured America, and Clan Wallace, best known for their mixture of Scottish contemporary and tribal music.

Also on the Royal Mile, there will be poetry recitals by members of the World Burns Federation and street performances by the Edinburgh-based arts company Te Pooka.

Once the Riding event has made its way down to the Parliament, the focus of the entertainment will shift to the Holyrood end of the Royal Mile, where a host of performances will continue from midday to 5pm .

The Chamber Ceremony itself will feature performances by Young Musician of the Year Nicola Benedetti and singer-songwriter Eddi Reader.

Commenting on the cultural programme of events, Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer George Reid MSP said: “We were inundated with offers from a wide range of Scottish entertainers wanting to perform on opening day and this has allowed us to put together a truly diverse programme of events.

“There will be something to suit all tastes, from musicians to fire-eaters, and the acts range from professional entertainers to representatives from amateur community groups

“We are hoping that this multi-cultural programme will encourage people from all walks of life to travel to Edinburgh to enjoy the unique atmosphere of this day.”

During Saturday afternoon, a diverse range of entertainers will perform for the crowds in three outdoor venues – the amphitheatre outside Our Dynamic Earth and in the Parliament’s landscaped gardens and amphitheatre.

The entertainment will come to a close at 5pm when Te Pooka will give a pyrotechnics performance, including a Saltire fire sculpture, on the water feature outside the public entrance to Holyrood.

The afternoon programme of entertainment for the public comprises of the following:

Landscaped Stage within Gardens of the New Scottish Parliament
The popular Lathallan School Pipe Band, which regularly takes part in parades at Balmoral Castle , Scone Palace , Blair Castle and Highland Games, will be among those providing entertainment at Holyrood’s landscaped gardens.

Lathallan School , based in Johnshaven in the North-East of Scotland , has had a reputation for piping and drumming spanning more than 50 years.

The crowds will also be able to enjoy performances from the Edinburgh Military Tattoo Dancers, singer and Celtic harpist Katie Targett Adams and Blazin Fiddles, a group of seven musicians whose aim is to celebrate Highland and Island fiddle music.

Amphitheatre within Gardens of the New Scottish Parliament
The Scottish Youth Theatre, which will be performing on the Royal Mile earlier in the day, will begin the entertainment at the amphitheatre.

There will also be poetry and recitals from the World Burns Federation (North of Scotland) and storytelling from Netherbow Storytellers – an Edinburgh-based group which aims to keep the art of storytelling alive.

The Martians – of which Fame Academy winner David Sneddon was a member prior to entering the TV competition – will also be performing. The group, consisting of acoustic guitarists and singers, has toured all over Europe .

Outside Our Dynamic Earth
Entertainment outside Holyrood’s neighbour will include a range of Scottish bands including the four tenors group, Caledon . The group’s recent performances include the First Minister’s Reception at the MTV Awards and at the United Nations in the presence of Kofi Annan.

Clan Wallace, a band which is involved in a range of projects designed to mark the 700 th anniversary of the death of William Wallace in 2005, will provide a mixture of Scottish contemporary and tribal music.

Members of the Edinburgh-based arts company, Te Pooka, will also give a spectacular array of performances ranging from fire breathing, stilt walking, street theatre and live drumming.

Talented performers across the length and breadth of Scotland will be involved in entertainment for Saturday’s opening. Below are brief backgrounds on a selection of the groups:

Caledon is a music group consisting of four tenors – Alan Beck, Jamie McDougall, Ivan Sharpe and their Musical Director, Michael Barnett. As childhood friends, the five men set up Caledon with the main aim of celebrating Scots song, rescuing it from neglect and making it accessible to a new generation of Scots both at home and abroad. Caledon has not only toured internationally but has performed at the Edinburgh Festival, BBC Children in Need, the 2003 Scotland European cup qualifier against Germany at Hampden Park, T-in-the Park, the First Minister’s Reception at the MTV Awards and at the United Nations in the presence of Kofi Annan.

The title of this group means “Children of the Drum”. They describe themselves as an exciting, energetic and rhythmic band from Glasgow . Clann An Drumma’s thunderous approach to percussion is what makes them distinct from “just another pipe and drums band” and gives a brilliant flair to the traditional pieces, also flavoured with enchanting vocals. They play worldwide and have just recently toured America before going on to Spain and Norway .

The Clan Wallace band – whose music is a mixture of Scottish contemporary and tribal – is involved in international media/cultural projects to bring many thousands of people to Scotland in 2005 to celebrate the 700 th anniversary of the death of William Wallace and also the 10 th anniversary of the release of the film, “Braveheart”. The band has toured internationally and plays to audiences of up to 20,000 in Europe and has a large international appeal. The band has also won the ‘Best of the Fringe’ award and was the Finale performance at the end of the Fringe Celebrations 2003. Several CDs, a concert video, DVD video albums and DVD video singles have been released.

The Clarsaich Society exists to promote Scotland ‘s oldest instrument and to provide help and advice to players. It has 11 local branches throughout the UK , a special interest group for wire strung harp enthusiasts and a HQ/central unit which operates a harp hire service and music sales. It also organises the Edinburgh International Harp Festival each spring.

Danceihayami, founded in 2003, is Scotland ‘s first cross-cultural professional dance company with its aesthetic roots in Bharatanatyam (South Indian dance). Artistic Director, Priya Shrikumar, leads this multi-national company of dancers creating culturally diverse works with musicians from Asian, Scottish and Western Classical roots. Next year, they are hoping to tour Scotland , Europe and New Zealand .

Gizzen Briggs is a traditional music group and boasts some of the most talented young, traditional musicians in the Highlands today. The group consists of pupils and teachers from Tain Royal Academy and musicians from Kinlochbervie High School and Fortrose Academy . The group has three international tours under its belt, three recordings and has played all over Scotland , including at a Reception in the Scottish Parliament in June 2000 to mark the end of the Parliament’s first term.

As an acclaimed singer and Celtic harpist with three CDs to her credit, Katie Targett Adams became the Music and Culture Icon for Scotland in 2003 at the age of 23. Her contemporary interpretation of Scottish music and tradition has led her to represent Scotland at Tartan Day in New York , appear live on TV and radio and before audiences of 35,000 overseas. Katie has been invited back to China on 10 October 2004 to perform for the First Minister of Scotland, sing in the Forbidden City in Beijing and star in the Shanghai Baoshan International Festival.

Lathallan School is a private, independent, fee-paying boarding school for girls and boys. It is located in Johnshaven, serving the communities of Aberdeenshire, Kincardineshire and Angus in the North East of Scotland. Lathallan School has had a reputation for piping and drumming spanning more than 50 years. It is in high demand and regularly takes part in parades at Balmoral Castle, Scone Palace , Blair Castle , local fetes and highland games.

The National Youth Choir of Scotland (NYCoS) was formed in 1996 to provide an opportunity for young singers in Scotland to participate in choral singing at a national level. Around 100 singers aged 18 – 24 are recruited annually for the choir. Recent performances by NYCoS have included the MTV Europe Awards, BBC Proms in the Park, the Edinburgh International Festival and the Grant Park Festival, Chicago.

The Rose Street Quartet is a string group which has been performing together for the last six years. Beyond the core quartet, the group has access to a pool of around 20 highly experienced local chamber musicians, ensuring an ever-high standard of performance. The group typically plays for private and corporate functions, meals and lunches, where live music is used to contribute to the atmosphere of the event. The quartet’s classical performances range from Bach instrumentals and Mozart divertimenti, Strauss waltzes and Operatic arias. Its contemporary repertoire focuses mainly on lighter styles, including arrangements of jazz standards, ragtime and tango.

Saor Patrol’s vibrant pipe tunes and drum rhythms please and even excite many a crowd. The group has a very unique sound and style, combining old roots and new blood. The band consists of Charlie Allan on the pipes, Wayne Manning on the snare, Kev Johnson on the drums, Stevie Kilpatrick on the bass and Robbie MacFarlane on percussion.

The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra is one of Scotland ‘s foremost traditional music organisations. The Orchestra was formed in 1980, deriving its origins from Fiddlers’ Rallies which were – and are – held throughout the country. The SFO – with a membership of around 150 – brings keen and interested musicians together to provide a series of concerts in main cities and works together to create the finest possible standard of orchestral fiddle playing without detracting from the strong traditional strains of music. It has settled into a sequence of five main concerts each year – in the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow ; Usher Hall, Edinburgh ; Music Hall, Aberdeen ; Barbican, York and the Barbican Centre, London .

The Scottish Youth Theatre is an organisation which focuses its activities on youth, providing a professional background to assist, develop and promote young people, giving them life skills required to make it in the world. The demand for the company’s services remains at an unbelievably high level, taking it from one end of Scotland to the other and beyond.

Scottish Traditions of Dance Trust (STDT) is the only national organisation which exists to promote, research, conserve and foster all of Scotland ‘s dance traditions. Everyone dances at some point in their lives and STDT is the national advocate for the enjoyment of all forms of Scottish traditional dance. They have a variety of groups but the Edinburgh Tattoo Highland Ceilidh Dancers rate amongst the best in the world and will perform at the Tattoo again this year. Other groups include Traditional Step Dancers – percussive dance, originating in Scotland – Highland Dancers, Early Dancers, Shetland, Hebridean, Old Time, Orkney, Country and Military Dancers.

Te POOKa is an Edinburgh-based Arts Company specialising in world class fire performance, physical theatre, music, drumming and percussion as well as workshops and educational outreach programmes across Scotland, the UK and abroad. One of the group’s specialities is spectacular fire-shows featuring fire spinning, fire eating and fire breathing set against exploding pyrotechnic backdrops and original musical scores.

The Martians consists of three to four acoustic guitarists/singers, with the group’s trademark being that one of the singers has a ‘unique’ singing voice. He is described as singing as though he has just been sucking helium. The group, which has toured all over Europe , performs well known songs with audience participation and much hilarity. David Sneddon, the Fame Academy winner, was in this band just prior to entering the TV competition.

Unusual Suspects is the brainchild of David Milligan (piano) and Corrina Hewat (harp) and is a Scottish Fiddle Orchestra – Big Band Style – consisting of musicians playing a wide selection of traditional and modern pieces, ranging from delightful vocals to full-blown swing. The group has toured the length and breadth of the country to standing ovations.

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