The first lunchtime concert of the 2014 Autumn Series got off to a high octane beginning with a visit by The Border Directors, a four-strong band of local musicians who concentrate on traditional music and songs from Northumberland and the Borders.
The band members, who have 25 years of experience playing all kinds of traditional music, are John Bibby, Kim Bibby-Wilson, Derek Poxton and Matt Seattle.
They play in many diverse locations including barns, village halls, hotels, castles, civic centres and marquees. They have appeared in venues from the North of Scotland to the South coast of England, in France and Germany and on television and radio.
Their experience and togetherness was most evident in their varied programme of rants, jigs, hornpipes and traditional tunes and their high class playing thrilled a large audience who hung on to every note and phrase.
All four members are multi-talented in that each of them play a variety of instruments – Kim plays no less than five, John and Derek play three, while Matt provides variety with the Border pipes and fiddle.
From the first piece, the Morpeth Rant, a high level of performance was set with excellent co-ordination between the players, who maintained good rhythm and pace from start to finish.
Two hornpipes followed and they provided a change in style and pace with a striking rhythmic movement and superb tonal quality. You could almost smell the sea in the ebb and flow of the music.
John and Kim combined in a mandolin duet where they performed two melodious and catchy pieces. This was a beautiful sound, mellow and round with changes of tempo superbly handled.
Following excellent performances of a jig, Teviotdale, and a folk tune, The Goodwife of Morpeth, Kim illustrated her huge talent with a vocal solo, The Gallowgate Lad, in which she produced a lovely sound with her voice perfectly suited to the singing of folk music.
The concert continued with further lively and tuneful pieces, with the four performers playing at a very high level. What was most striking was not only their ability to switch effortlessly between instruments, but the smooth transition from one tempo to another.
A final hornpipe, The Bonny Miller, brought the concert to a lively and rousing conclusion. The group received long and enthusiastic applause from the audience.