In 2013 Neil and Allan MacDonald were commissioned by Stirling Council to write a new work to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. The project was jointly funded by Creative Scotland & Stirling Council
The resulting work, entitle The Bruce 700, was premiered in June 2014 and recieved a second performance at the world renowned Celtic Connections festival in January 2015.
The piece is scored for vocals, highland pipes, small pipes, whistle, saxophones, string orchestra, harp & percussion along with massed pipes & drums and gaelic choir.
Some of Scotlands finest musicians took part in the 2 performances including gaelic singers Kathleen MacInnes, Griogair Labhruidh, Scots singer Rod Paterson, all 3 MacDonald Brothers from Glenuig - Allan, Iain & Dr. Angus, Craig Muirhead, Angus MacKenzie & Chris Gibb on pipes, Masaki Kato & Thomas Zöller on small pipes, Mary MacMaster on harp, Dick Lee & Fraser Fifield on Saxophones and a string orchestra including Lori Watson, Innes Watson, Aidan O'Rourke, Patsy Reid, Lauren McCall and /duncan Lyall amongst others. The ensemble was conducted and directed from the cello by Neil Johnstone.
Stirling & District Schools pipe band were led by Chris Gibb & Davie Ross and the resulting recording was completed with additional vocals provided by a massed gaelic choir from the Isle of Lewis.
In April 2016 the project was successful in receiving funding from Creative Scotland, along with other funders, to enable a performance and CD launch in Hofheim, near Frankfurt, Germany.
"the composed work of Allan MacDonald and Neil Johnstone rings with affection, honour and a love for story telling through the medium of music." - Ian D Hall, Liverpool Sound & Vision.
"an ambitious, stirring work, involving pipe band, fiddle ensemble, singers, percussionists and a core of traditional, jazz and classical musicians, and one that MacDonald and his co-composer, arranger and orchestrator, cellist Neil Johnstone marshal with considerable narrative skill" - Rob Adams, The Herald.
photos © Sean Purser