Orchestral setting perfect for Carpenter

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Mary Chapin Carpenter & the Scottish Festival Orchestra

Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Usher Hall, Edinburgh

You don’t often get to see Mary Chapin Carpenter round these parts - even less so in the company of an orchesra.

The American singer-songwriter has taken ten songs recorded across her career and ‘‘re-imagined’ them for her new album ‘Songs From The Movie’ recorded with a full 63-piece orchestra, and recreated on the road with different groups of musicians.

For her Usher Hall concert, she shared the stage with the Scottish Festival Orchestra under the baton of conductor Vince Mendoza, and it made for a very different live show.

Carpenter’s vocals have always been rich and warm, and her subjects revolve around love and loss, regret and hope - snapshots of personal lives - are always lyrically emotive, so the orchestral setting was hugely complementary in many ways.

With many of the songs slow, reflective ballads the pace didn’t really change greatly across the evening - a tone set by the opening, beautiful suite of Elmer Bernstein’s score from the 1962 movie ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ - but the quality of the musicianship more than made up for that, and it was a treat to hear songs such as ‘Come On, Come On’ performed live so many years after they were first recorded.

It may have been some distance away from a standard ‘gig’ but the venue was pefect for the occasion, and Carpenter clearly enjoyed peforming with a full orchestra laden with strings.