TWO musicians taking part in a concert in Saudi Arabia have struck up a surprise friendship after discovering they're both from the Wee County.

Alanna Macfarlane and Richard Ion were invited to join the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Winter in Tantora festival in the Arabian Peninsula last month.

Despite the fact they both grew up in Clacks and play the bassoon, the pair were complete strangers to one another before the trip.

Alanna, 24, told the Advertiser: "Obviously we had to get a plane over there.

"There was about 60 or 70 of us in total – mainly UK-based musicians.

"I heard this Scottish accent on the plane, but didn't think anything of it, and when we landed in Medina I saw [Richard] with a bassoon and heard the Scottish accent again.

"I thought: 'No way – what are the chances'."

After they got chatting, Tullibody resident Alanna asked Richard where he was from, and was stunned by his answer.

"He said: 'I'm from Alva,' and I said: 'No way'.

"It was insane. The chance of both the bassoonists being from Clackmannanshire is just [incredible]."

Richard, 28, added: "I couldn't quite believe it at first."

The more they talked, the more they realised just how bizarre it was that they'd never met before.

Alanna said: "He's older than me, [but] it was just so crazy we'd managed to miss each other, given we are both playing this specific and quite rare instrument.

"We had never bumped into each other before until we were both in Medina Airport in Saudi Arabia.

"Of all the places to find someone else from Clackmannanshire."

From that moment on, the pair hit it off.

Alanna said: "We had such good fun: we both had really similar interests because we're both nerdy bassoon players."

And they both loved their time playing in Saudi Arabia – despite having to stick to a hectic performance schedule throughout the trip.

Now, having returned home, they plan on keeping in touch and even meeting up to play together in future.

Richard said: "Alanna now lives in London, and I'm in Manchester.

"I think we'll play together when I'm down in London – I work there quite a bit."

And an enthusiastic Alanna said: "We're going to meet up and do duets – it's crazy."