"A Scottish Christmas" at the Kennedy Center Sunday evening brought home local musicians Bonnie Rideout, Maggie Sansone and Al Petteway, with guest artists Donnie MacDonald and Paddy League, for the final concert of an extensive national tour.
The capacity audience craned their necks to greet the world-champion City of Washington Pipe Band and Drum Corps as they entered the rear of the Concert Hall playing a marching tattoo.
The kilted pipers and drummers took the stage for spellbinding precision rhythms rattled off by the snare drummers while the tenor and bass drummers twirled their muffled sticks like semaphores between beats. Having put the audience in the mood for Celtic celebration, the musicians and dancers treated them to 33 songs, hymns, dances, reels and hornpipes.
The concert featured quiet moments, too--the Shaker hymn "Simple Gifts," "Greensleeves" and traditional "aires" sung in Scottish Gaelic by MacDonald.
Petteway's luscious, light finger work in two 18th-century Scottish jigs created the sonic illusion of a harp with a guitar. Sansone's hammered dulcimer added vibrant tones to Rideout's searing fiddle.
Breath-taxing solos by piper Mike Green on various Scottish reels and Rideout's Scottish mouth music for "Tail Toddle" brought roars from the crowd.
The musicians' tonic clarity and technical skill made many oft-heard carols seem fresh and new.