Aberdeen based orchestras of fiddles and accordions that practice, perform and preserve traditional Scottish music.

Annual Report and Financial Statements for the Year ended 28 February 2010

Review of developments, activities and achievements

Concerts

Once more the Society's orchestras have had a full programme of over 25 concerts throughout the year varying in both their size and venue. These would not have been possible without the continued support and contributions of the members. The highlights include:

  • A full house for the Society's annual concert at the Lemon Tree in April 2009. This was the first time we had performed at the venue. The concert was well received and the event cleared a small surplus when including the raffle and CD sales. It remains difficult to find a suitable smaller performance venue in Aberdeen which has an appropriately sized stage and back of house facilities for the full orchestra, with sufficient audience facilities and capacity to achieve break-even. We believe that for this size of venue the Lemon Tree offers the best facilities for both the orchestra and audience. In fact, we are due to return for our next annual concert in April 2010.
  • Members of the orchestra performing at the Shetland Fiddle & Accordion Festival October 2009

    20 orchestra members of the Society travelled to Shetland in October 2009 to participate in the 22nd annual Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival. The festival is one of the largest of its kind in Scotland and features some of the best local and international fiddle and accordion performers. The trip provided an opportunity to broaden the members' experience of traditional Scottish music, swap tunes, meet some old friends and make new ones as well;

  • In August 2009 we were once again invited to appear as part of Aberdeen's Tartan Day Festival and performed an open air concert in Aberdeen town centre;
  • Also in August 2009 a small group of players entertained the Countess of Wessex during a Royal visit to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary;
  • The Society, along with guests from other societies, undertook their annual Fiddlers Rally at Aberdeen Music Hall in November 2009. Guests were singer Alistair MacDonald and Shetland Fiddler Bryan Gear. Audience numbers were disappointing for a second year. The Society will continue to work closely with the event promoter, Aberdeen Performing Arts, to ensure improved audience numbers at future events;
  • November 2009 also saw a large group performing at Laurencekirk & District Rotary Club's winter concert at Mearns Academy along with folk group Shinsheen and Burns Quoir;
  • As part of Aberdeen City's Winter Festival which ran from late November 2009, small groups from the Society entertained shoppers over three weekends at all the main shopping centres in Aberdeen.

Throughout the year a number of small evening concerts were undertaken at sheltered housing complexes and churches and were well attended by members. The Afternoon Group continued to entertain at hospitals, nursing homes and churches, lead this session by Dave Beaton and Sandy Lumsden.

Other events

Constitution changes

Secretary Karen Gill presents a £1,000 cheque to The Archie Foundation Fundraising ManagerSecretary Karen Gill presents a £1,000 cheque to The Archie Foundation Fundraising Manager

As part of the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator's “Rolling Review” guidance in relation to charity objectives the committee had previously identified that the Society's constitution was not sufficient to continue making donations to other charities where surplus funds exist.

A consultation exercise had been undertaken in February 2009 with the membership regarding expanding the Society's objectives to include provisions to permit supporting other charitable purposes. Following the results of the consultation the committee proposed a revision to the constitution's objectives for approval at the AGM in May 2009. These were adopted unanimously by the members.

It was also agreed at the AGM that the first donation under the new constitution clause would be £1,000 for The Archie Foundation – the charity which supports the Aberdeen Royal Childrens' Hospital.

Rehearsal premises

The Society currently rents rehearsal premises in Cornhill Primary School and Community Centre. In January 2010 Aberdeen City Council invited the Society to participate in a consultation exercise regarding the arrangements for all external lets.

The primary intention is to merge the two separate systems operating for sport and education facility lets. However, there are other implications with regard to the number of facilities to be made available for lets, payment timing, the hourly rates charged and discounts applied, priority in bookings allocation and quality assurance standards with regard to how the organisations are run - including insurance requirements. The council's intention is that the new system will be in operation for lets commencing in August 2010.

The full consequences of the proposals are still unclear at this time, with the application process for the Society's next let starting in August 2010 still to commence. However, it is likely that there will be a circa 25% rise in the rehearsal premises costs. 

The committee recognise the financial pressures that the council faces and the potential benefits from a combined system for service delivery. However, the last reorganisation that the council made with lets in August 2008 resulted in significant difficulty finding a suitable new venue and we are concerned about the impact it may have for the next concert session, especially if there are fewer venues available for all groups that currently have lets. The committee will explore alternative options for rehearsal premises as a contingency.

As a result of the above the committee has revised the minimum reserves target to match the expected higher rent costs, please refer to the finance section for more information.

Other items

The committee were saddened by the news that one of its patrons - June, Marchioness of Aberdeen and Temair, CBE - passed away in June 2009, aged 95.

We continue to be an Associate Plus member of Making Music (the National Federation of Music Societies, registered charity in England & Wales no 249219 & Scotland No SC038849).

On the social front the Christmas Party evening returned to the Cloverleaf Hotel for an enjoyable night and the committee was pleased at the increase in numbers attending.

Our website was refreshed during the year, with a change in the underlying content management system to open-source software. The new software offers the opportunity to develop member-only content plus extra features for the public website including an events calendar for concerts and improved search facilities. It has also allowed us to publish an online version of our Annual report and financial statements for 2009 with additional interactive features, this 2010 report will be added to the website later in the year.

Following the success of the previous introductory Taster Session for new members another session was organised in August 2009. The format was broadly the same, but held the week before the commencement of the concert session at our normal rehearsal venue. The committee were pleased that a number of new members were recruited as a result. A second session was advertised in January 2010 but due to the severe winter weather at the time no new members came along.

Our thanks go to all members, old and new, who have played at the many concerts held during the period and helped in various ways to keep the Society running so smoothly. 

Future plans

Entry for our next concert in the Lemon Tree What's on Guide

Looking forward the orchestras are busy preparing for the Society's annual concert a “Scottish Music Evening” which is being held at The Lemon Tree on 25 April 2010.

The committee is investigating the level of member support for a return trip to the Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival in October 2010.

The Fiddlers' Rally at Aberdeen Music Hall has been confirmed for Saturday 13 November 2010. It is planned that the Rally will include a reunion performance of as many past members of the junior orchestras as possible.

We are also in early discussions with Aberdeen Performing Arts about organising the next Fiddlers' Spectacular at Aberdeen HMT in May 2011. 

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