2011 Photos, click here!
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2010 Photos, click here!
2009 Photos, click here!
23rd Iain MacPhail Band annual South American Tour, 2009
Many thanks to our photographer Elson Tavares for this year´s excellent set of pictures of the Caledonian Ball.
In spite of the Economic Crisis, the Iain MacPhail Scottish Country Dance Band has just flown back to Edinburgh after yet another successful three weeks tour of São Paulo, Rio and Macaé. How do we do it, you might ask-or even why? If you had seen all the happy youngsters at the Caledonian Ball and the Paissandu Club ceilidh, it was enough to know that, a hundred and three years on, the St. Andrew Society is still fulfilling the obligations laid down by its founders at the turn of the last century. It won´t be long before these youngsters will be taking over the reins, together with the talented young musicians being produced in Scotland today, like Nicky McMichan, twenty four years old, who has just completed his first Brazilian tour with the Iain MacPhail Band. A graduate of the Glasgow College of Music, he was replacing the late Davie Flockhart on keyboard, but his first instrument is the piano accordion, which he is already teaching to children not much younger than himself. The future of traditional Scottish music is secure in hands like these.
The youngsters from Petropolis who put on such a stunning display of Scottish Country Dancing at the Paissandu Club are the legacy left by our ex- president Willie Nicholl and Chris Nicholl. That so many youngsters have been able to attend the Caledonian Ball over the past few years is thanks to the generosity of the Copacabana Palace Hotel, which has also accommodated the MacPhail Band in Rio every year for the last twenty three years, including this year, despite the Economic Crisis.
Fortunately for our tiny community, there is an ongoing influx of Scots into this region, all linked to the ever growing Offshore Oil and Gas Industry, which has not been as affected as others by the Economic Crisis. Like others who have stressful occupations, these Scots enjoy a round of golf to chill out. Golf is the catalyst which has been attracting Offshore Oilmen, led by Scots, to the St. Andrew Society, bringing with them the support needed to finance the MacPhail Band tour. They are: Pete Campsie of Brasdril: Rob McInnes of IRM Services: Ron Nemec of National Oilwell Varco: and Robert Shinfield of TSC Offshore. Here in Rio we have a long time supporter in Nick Walker of York Group and a newcomer in Rodrigo Kill of LBH Brasil. All this support has been crucial to the survival of the Society and it´s heartening to know that after another successful ceilidh in the Sheraton Hotel in Macaé, the 2010 MacPhail Band Tour has been already guaranteed by the Macaé Oilmen!
As you might imagine, much hard work is required by committee members to keep everything on track and flowing smoothly during the MacPhail band annual tour. The St. Andrew Society has been fortunate to have had a dedicated group for several years now. They are: Fiona and Robin Brown: Moira and Chris McLauchlan: Suzan Carter: Audrey Hieatt: Ana Campbell and for the golf, Philip Healey.
From São Paulo to Rio to Macaé, the band and their equipment have been transported safely over the years by Duncan Frew in a distinctive Highland Barra executive minibus.
So, as we all catch our breath after another hectic three weeks, on behalf of the Society, may I wish you an enjoyable Homecoming Year St. Andrew´s Day on the 30th of November, when it´s customary for the Scottish Diaspora to take a wee dram in honour of the Auld Country. Slainte mhath,
Jimmy Frew, President
THE 2007 MACPHAIL BAND TOUR-A YEAR TO REMEMBER
The dance floors have emptied, the stages are bare and the tables all cleared. The last echoes of “Auld Lang Syne” have faded away and the last guests have gone home, tired and happy. Iain MacPhail and the boys of his Scottish Country Dance Band have left Brazil’s shores once again after another successful and enjoyable tour.
This time last year we had no idea if we’d ever see them back again. A lot of things have changed since then. We can proudly announce today that the 2008 MacPhail Band South American Tour itinerary will be as follows: Sao Paulo Caledonian Ball, September 27th: Rio de Janeiro Caledonian Ball, October 4th: Macae Ceilidh, October 11th. We may even be able to include Buenos Aires next year, as we have done in the past, in recognition of the loyal support we’ve had down through the years from Eddie MacDougall and Co.
Again we have to thank the YORK GROUP, GRIFFIN TRAVEL, CORE IRM, PATRIOT MH and the MACAE OILMEN’S GOLF ASSOCIATION for the band’s airline tickets. For over twenty years the COPACABANA PALACE HOTEL has provided a home for the Caledonian Ball and a home from home for the MacPhail band. For seventeen years Duncan Frew of SCOTBRAS has driven the band and equipment from venue to venue up and down the country and he’s just added Macae to the list. It’s quite impressive when you think about it.
Those who attended the Caledonian Ball in Rio and over forty members of the Society from Rio who went to the Macae Ceilidh were able to meet the “Magnificent Seven” from Macae who have been working so well for us behind the scenes: Pete Campsie of BRASDRIL: Rob McInnes and Pete Ross of CORE IRM: Ewan Florence of TRANSOCEAN: Willie Mair of JAYMAR DO BRASIL: Stuart Greer of PRIDE INTERNATIONAL and Duncan Erskine of SCHLUMBERGER.
This was the 21st consecutive MacPhail Band Tour. It commenced in Sao Paulo where the St. Andrew Society members hosted their Caledonian Ball for 350 guests in the Rosa Rosarium. The band also performed at several other venues in Sao Paulo including the British School.
The Rio Caledonian Ball was held in the Golden Room of the Copacabana Palace Hotel. This year it seemed to take on a life of its own as over 200 guests whirled and skirled all the way through the night till “Auld Lang Syne” at 3.30am. Perhaps the fire came partly from the lightning effects of Margaret’s Atholl Brose and partly from the lighting effects of Serginho’s disco. Some of the guests were virtually glowing in the dark! When Vagner joined in on the bagpipes, it was almost like a scene straight out of Tam O’ Shanter!
The mood continued through what was probably the best attended Paissandu Ceilidh ever (where do they all disappear to in between?), a lively gig in the Irish Pub (where we played for our supper) and on to the golf course in Buzios where another excellent turn-out from Rio was recorded. Such is golf that, although the Oilmen won the trophy again for the second time, albeit by the narrowest of margins, several individual prizes were taken by the Rio team.
History was in the making in Macae as the first Ceilidh ever to be held in that town got under way in the Sheraton Hotel. The Grand March was led into the hall by our piper Vagner Costa followed by over forty Scottish Country Dancing enthusiasts from Rio de Janeiro. More than a hundred guests filled the floor as, for the first time, Macae was introduced to the Gay Gordons, Dashing White Sergeant, Strip the Willow, St. Bernard’s Waltz, Flowers of Edinburgh, Petronella and the Eightsome Reel, all played in the impeccable style of Iain MacPhail. Credit must be given to the way the visitors from Rio went around the hall choosing partners from their Macae hosts. The enthusiasm shown by the teenagers was infectious and remarked upon by spectators. Young Andrew Erskine, complete with kilt, had himself a great time!
As midnight struck and the clocks were moved forward an hour, the floor was jam packed, as the sound of Serginho’s “It’s Raining Men” and “YMCA” filled the hall.
Flush with Scotland’s victory over Ukraine, you could hear the noise of the Tartan Army boys all night. As an example of how to put on a Scottish party it was certainly a resounding success, with everyone leaving exhausted and looking forward to the next one.
Hopefully all this exposure to Scottish Country Dancing will improve the numbers at the dancing classes led by Audrey Hieatt, not only on Tuesday nights in the Paissandu Club, but also in Macae. Thanks again to all concerned who made the 2007 Macphail band tour one of the most enjoyable ever. Wow!
2006 Photos, click here!
Eagerly awaited, it’s all over now, but the Centenary Ball will linger on in the memories of those who were there to commemorate the Society’s 100th birthday, particularly those families with three generations all together for the occasion. It has been well recorded on camera thanks to Elson Tavares for the Society and Chris Hieatt for the Umbrella, plus many of the guests.
You can browse through the picture gallery here
Once again the Copacabana Palace excelled itself with the venue, the cuisine and its incomparable service including seven nights accommodation for the Iain MacPhail Band. The newly restored ballroom provided the perfect solution to that extra special “100 years” atmosphere we had been trying to create and it kept everyone reminded of the great occasion all night.
Many thanks to York Group and Core Technical Services for their very welcome contributions, without which it would be impossible to even consider such an event.
Celebrating their twentieth South American tour, the music for Scottish Country Dancing was provided once again by Queen Elizabeth’s favourite musicians, the Iain MacPhail Scottish Country Dance Band, all the way from Edinburgh. Controlling the sound and keeping up the tempo in between, our thanks to Serginho’s All Time Hits, all the way from Botafogo.
For safely conveying these gentlemen and their instruments, year in year out, backwards and forwards, all the way through the streets of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, many thanks to Duncan Frew and the drivers from Highland Barra.
Thanks too, to piper Vagner Costa and the Highland Dancers for their impressive display, all the way from Petropolis.
Some of the guests had also travelled from afar to be at the Centenary Ball. They came from Pakistan, Trinidad, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Vitoria and the Aberdeen of the south – Macae. Others had flown in from England and Scotland. The ceremony at midnight to commemorate the 100 years with a display of the flags of thirty nations only served to emphasise the international quality of the Rio Society down through the years.
It was heartening to see among the guests so many of our friends from the other Rio societies. I personally would welcome the recent suggestion that the International Newcomers Club, the St, Andrew Society, the American Society, British Commonwealth Society and the Royal British Legion should join forces to combine their individual strengths. If you were to call it the International St. Andrews American Commonwealth Legion, the initials spell ISACL. That’s cool, eh! ISACLE – ICICLE – oh, well, forget it!
Jimmy Frew President 1995 – 2000: 2004 - 2006
2005 Photos, click here!
They came marching in frae a’ the airts to to pack the Golden Room to capacity at the 99 years Caledonian Ball which was held in in its traditional home at the Copacabana Palace Hotel on the 1st of October this year– from the highlands of Petropolis they came; from offshore Macae; from the farmlands of Sao Paulo; from the wide plains of Brasilia; they even came marching over the border - from Buenos Aires! Many thanks to YORK GROUP, BJ TUBULAR SERVICES, BALLANTINES and the COPACABANA PALACE HOTEL, without whose generous assistance we would never have been able to maintain such a reasonable price for such a splendid occasion.
We were honoured by the presence of H.M.C.G. Paul Yaghmourian as our Guest of Honour. The Caledonian Ball is not a place for long winded speeches, but some things have to be said – and as Paul was very generous in his praise of Scotland, the sgian dubhs of the kilted gentlemen within reach remained firmly tucked into their socks!
Nobody could have been in any doubt that this was a genuinely Scottish occasion by the number of kilts on display this year – plus the abundance of Scottish accents. It was a pleasure to welcome so many of our “nee’burs frae juist up the road” in Macae - presently nicknamed “Aberdeen of the Southern Hemisphere” - some of whom have joined the Society, and we intend to cultivate this relationship in 2006 on the golf course at Buzios and at other opportunities.
The influence of Scotland in Brazil perpetrated by the St. Andrew Society was evident by the impeccable display of piping and dancing by the Petropolis Highland Dance Group, led by piper Vagner Costa. The relationship between the Rio Society and Buenos Aires was also evident by the presence of our long time friends, Eddie MacDougall and company. These two experienced and enthusiastic groups, assisted by the Little’s and co. from Brasilia, provided a boost for the Scottish country dances, ensuring there was never a shortage of sets on the floor right through to the “wee sma’ hoors” and Auld Lang Syne. The Tuesday night dance practices at the Paissandu Club, under the`patient guidance of Audrey Hieatt, were poorly attended during 2005, but if everyone who promised us at this Ball they would start attending classes next year actually turns up - we’ll have a full house again on Tuesday nights! The added incentive should be the Grand Centenary Caledonian Ball at the end of it!
An innovation this year was an arrangement with the Copacabana Palace Hotel management of a special reduced rate for teenagers who regularly attend the weekly country dancing practices, to provide them the opportunity to experience the real thing at the Caledonian Ball and capture their interest in the Society for the future. From the photo gallery generously provided by Elson Tavares, they had a whale of a time, and plenty to tell their friends. The presence of so many British School teachers at the Ball made sure there was no misbehaving!
Watching the proceedings with interest from the top table (and risking a dance or two!) were our new friends Eliane Danson and Rodrigo Moreiro from the British Council, who assisted us by supplying educational material from the British Council (Scotland) for our very well received presentations on Scotland at UERJ and UFRJ, described elsewhere in the website.
At this stage, no self respecting Caledonian Ball in these parts would be complete without the music of the Iain MacPhail Scottish Country Dance Band, consisting of Iain MacPhail, Stuart Forbes, Brian Griffin and George Darling. The fifth member of the band, Davie Flockhart, was unable to make it this year, but we understand he is making a good recovery, and hopefully we’ll see him hale and hearty next year. Iain MacPhail is the master of strict tempo Scottish Country Dance music today. The son of another famous Scottish bandleader, he is also a composer whose jaunty modern style of accordion playing is instantly recognisable. He performs at venues worldwide, and has become the favourite choice of Queen Elizabeth - playing the music every year for the Caledonian Ball in Balmoral Castle.
Despite such a busy schedule, the members of the MacPhail band have sacrificed both time and money over the past twenty years to come and play their music at Caledonian Balls, universities, schools and old peoples homes in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Montevideo, Buenos Aires and Santiago. They are worthy of the title “Scotland’s Musical Ambassadors to South America”. In 2000, we produced a Millennium South American Tour CD of our most popular dance tunes including the MacPhail composition “Rio Reel” - the only Scottish Country Dance with a sequence of samba steps – which has since become a favourite request in Scotland. There will be another MacPhail composition next year to celebrate the Rio Society’s centenary. We are indeed fortunate to have such talented friends.
Giving the band a much deserved breather from time to time, the slack was well taken up by Serginho and his All Time Hits, who had them all shakin’ an’ a reelin’ to the high decibels!
Many thanks to everyone who helped to make the 2005 Caledonian Ball the success it was, after such a difficult year.
A special thanks to Duncan Frew for taking care of the band and equipment from 28th September right through to Sao Paulo on 12th October.
Now to end with a cry for help! We desperately need financial assistance from somewhere to see us through the Centenary year! HELP US, PLEASE!
Jimmy Frew President
This year’s Caledonian Ball was held on the 9th October, in its usual venue, the magnificent Golden Room of the Copacabana Palace Hotel. As usual, the Hotel outdid itself in service and quality of the food. We were very fortunate to have the presence of the HMA Dr. Peter Collecott, CMG and his wife, Judith Pead at their first social visit to a British community affair in Rio de Janeiro and thank him for participating with a few words, the Loyal Toast and his wife for drawing the winner of the raffle. Also present, adding considerably to the sparkle of the evening, the Commanding Officer of HMS LEEDS CASTLE, Lt. Cdr. Iain Lower, and his wife, together with 12 officers as well as the Defence Attaché Gr. Capt. Ralf Ashenhurst, RAF, the Naval Attaché, Cdr. Richard Harrison and their wives from Brasília.
Unfortunately, due to the long weekend and the midterm holidays the full capacity expected was not obtained, but 150 guests packed the Golden Room and danced and enjoyed themselves until the wee hours of Sunday morning. Piping was provided by Vagner da Costa, from the highlands of Petrópolis. This year, besides Iain McPhail’s Scottish Country Dance Band, we also had Neville Thorley´s Midnight Hour Band, to keep the crowd on the floor while Iain McPhail rested! The Midnight Hour Band was sponsored by Subsea7, to whom we are very grateful.
We are also very fortunate to have the sponsorship of Allied Domecq, providing whisky for the Athol Brose and Ballantynes Whisky throughout the night as well as the Argentine Graffigna white and red wines. This year’s innovation was Sandi Stevenson’s traditional recipe for the Athol Brose, and although there were mixed reactions, the amount consumed leaves no doubt as to how well it was served! After dinner coffee was accompanied by Drambuie.
Another different happening was the raffle of a round trip Rio/Paris/Rio, kindly donated by Air France, who flew Iain McPhail’s Band out from Scotland. This was won by Margot Black and we hope she enjoys using it, perhaps to visit the French reinsurance market! We would like to thank not only all our sponsors who made the evening possible and a great success: Air France, Allied Domecq, Copacabana Palace Hotel, Gol Airlines, Paissandu Atlético Club, Sítio Shepheard and Subsea7, but also our guests without whom there would be no reason to have the Ball.
Next year’s Caledonian Ball already has its date reserved, the 8th October, 2005, at the Copacabana Palace Hotel. Put it in your diaries!
2004 Photos, click here!
The Caledonian Ball is, today, the most popular of the events held by the St. Andrew Society of Rio de Janeiro and is usually held in the first fortnight of October. The venue is the prestigious Copacabana Palace Hotel that creates a setting of elegance and tradition.
However, it has not always been like this. In the past, more important dates, such as Robbie Burns or St. Andrew Day commemorations attracted larger crowds and were held in the more prestigious venues of the time. The Caledonian Ball was a more relaxed affair up to the end of the 1970s (albeit still requesting formal dress), held at the Paissandú Atlético Club to the tune of a local band and recordings of Scottish Country Dance music.
The Paissandú Club is still the venue for some of our affairs and kindly allows us to hold the Tuesday night Country Dance practices in their main hall, but how the Caledonian Ball has changed since then!
Today, in all the main halls of the Copacabana Palace Hotel, a night of Scottish extravaganza can be found, with a traditional dance band flown out from Scotland, alternating with a local band or disco. Brazil also boasts a small collection of pipers and they are invited to perform during the evening, adding more Scottish flavour. A buffet dinner is available for most of the evening and whisky flows freely until the wee hours.
The guest list is long and varied, including lots of local supporters (Brazilian and ex-pats alike) and diplomatic dignitaries. Over the years, we have also been fortunate that officers from visiting RN ships that are in port at the right moment have been present adding colour and variety to the evening.
Dancing is programmed to suit all and sundry, with favourites like the Eightsome Reel, Strip the Willow, Broons Reel, Gay Gordons and Reel of the 51 st keeping the floor occupied. And for those who are shy about their Country Dancing, the second band or disco keep the floor lively with more cosmopolitan dances.
Like all good things, the evening must end, but in the wee hours and to the tunes of Auld Lang Syne played by the Scottish Country Dance Band. A final selection of medleys sees all good folk on their way – until the following year.
2003 Photos, click here!