Cape Breton's Natalie MacMaster says she's "one lucky girl" after playing a lively show with Symphony Nova Scotia, her band and the Elmer Iseler Singers at the Halifax waterfront Saturday night.

The free CBC-hosted concert was part of the Tall Ships festival and thousands turned out to see the performance, which was followed by cannon blasts and fireworks.

"I was up there thinking, 'Look at the power behind me, playing all these intricate parts through the band,'" said MacMaster. "What the band was doing, it just makes for a real power, a real sound, a real fullness. It's just the coolest thing to be able to play with the symphony and my own band. It's awesome."

Symphony Nova Scotia kicked off the show first by playing A Fifth of Beethoven, the disco version of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.

The orchestra was then joined by the Toronto-based Elmer Iseler Singers.

In honour of Canada 150, the symphony and choir performed Canadian hits including Anne Murray's Snowbird, The Guess Who's American Woman, Shania Twain's Man! I Feel Like a Woman!, Neil Young's Heart of Gold and Rush's Closer to the Heart.

Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser

Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser conducts Symphony Nova Scotia as they play classic Canadian hits Saturday night. (Graham Thompson/CBC)

After the choir, MacMaster and her band played alongside Symphony Nova Scotia.

MacMaster says she enjoyed playing If Ever You Were Mine and Carnival Medley with the orchestra.

"I played them with the orchestra 20 some years ago and to play them again with the same orchestra, I'm very aware of the fact it started with them. That piece was written with them in mind," said MacMaster. 

"Those are the two pieces that seem to gel together the best because it was made for me and for them."

Tall Ships Natalie MacMaster concert

A small group of people started to dance at the front of the stage during Natalie MacMaster's set. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

The weather was foggy at times throughout the show, but MacMaster said it made for an interesting backdrop with the night sky and lights illuminating the masts of the tall ships.

"I felt like I was in a movie, it was so grand," she said. "It was just beautiful and even though it wasn't a clear night, that thick fog, it just kind of added to it."

Another highlight for MacMaster was being able to perform with three of her children. They each played the fiddle and danced.

Plenty of people arrived well before the show to get the best seats.

Rosin Carew-Arithi got there about two hours early to make sure she got a good spot.

"Both of my girls play the violin. They're very much into music and they play other instruments as well," said Carew-Arithi. "So seeing the symphony and seeing Natalie MacMaster is really an event that I wanted them to be able to see and participate in."

Rosin Carew-Arithi

Rosin Carew-Arithi with her dog Brunswick saving some good seats near the stage for her daughters ahead of the concert. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Tim Brennan's wife plays viola with Symphony Nova Scotia

He said a big crowd showed up to see the rehearsal for the show earlier in the afternoon.

"To have so many people here to hear the symphony play and then of course have Natalie and her whole family, to see downtown Halifax have this many people here … I wish we could do this every weekend," said Brennan.

Tim Brennan

Tim Brennan's wife plays with Symphony Nova Scotia. He was treated to a sneak preview of the show during rehearsals earlier in the day. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

The concert ended with an O Canada performance followed by cannon blasts and fireworks. Then the next band, Coig, took the stage.

MacMaster said she and her family plan to come back to Nova Scotia for the holidays.

They're going to do a Christmas show on Dec. 22 at Centre 200 in Sydney. MacMaster said it's going to be the only eastern Christmas show she's doing this year.

canon blasts

A cannon blast followed by fireworks brought the Symphony Nova Scotia concert to an end and then the next band, Coig, took the stage. (Steve Berry/CBC)