Scots Conservative Euro MP Struan Stevenson today welcomed 75 members of the Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on the first stop of their 2013 European tour.
The full Orchestra was invited by Struan to the Parliament after popular performances by a small number of individual members at two Burns Suppers hosted by Struan in Brussels in 2009 and 2010. The visit was organised by Struan but was co-sponsored by Scottish MEPs David Martin (Labour) and Ian Hudghton (SNP). MEPs can only sponsor a limited number of visitors each year, but by splitting the costs of sponsorship, the three Euro MPs helped to pay for the Orchestra members’ travel, hotel and food from a European Parliament fund for official visitors of MEPs.
The musicians, aged 10 and up from schools across Ayrshire, and accompanying staff were first treated to an official tour around the Parliament before Struan met the group and delivered a speech praising the work of the Orchestra.
Renowned throughout the UK and abroad for its performances, the Orchestra then played a concert in the Parliament’s central courtyard. The courtyard itself is unique in that it is surrounded by the whole of the circular-shaped Parliament building, meaning that virtually the entire Parliament could see and hear the Orchestra from their office windows.
After Strasbourg, the Orchestra will make stops in Lichenfels in Bavaria, the CERN facility in Switzerland and Paris before finishing in Brussels.
Speaking from Strasbourg after the concert, Struan said: “I was delighted, along with David and Ian, to welcome the Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra to Strasbourg on their European tour. Having featured members of the Orchestra on previous occasions at my annual Burns Suppers in Brussels, I was eager to have the full group play at the European Parliament.
“The Orchestra put forward a refreshing, youthful, creative and enthusiastic performance, providing their usual twist on traditional Scots fiddle compositions. Listening to their music echo gloriously up and down the courtyard I’m sure provided a welcome break to the day for my fellow parliamentarians and their staff.
“I want to thank the Orchestra’s Director Wallace Galbraith for organising the European tour and all the musicians for making the trip to Strasbourg. I wish them the best of luck as they continue with their tour.”