FESTIVAL MUSIC | EIF Highlights Benjamin Clementine



piece was i rst published. It is this piece of work that Fox and Bigham are celebrating here: Mendelssohn’s haunting interpretation of the area inl uencing their own spiritual celebration. Staffa will also be performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra as part of the International Festival’s 70th Anniversary Celebration Concert on 27 Aug at the Usher Hall. National Library of Scotland, 17–27 Aug, 10am, free. The Magnetic Fields

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BENJAMIN CLEMENTINE Clementine’s album, At Least for Now, won the Mercury Prize in 2015 for its raw honesty and deeply personal songs of unwitting adventure. Much has been made of the fact that his Later . . . With Jools Holland appearance won the praise of Paul McCartney, but it’s Clementine’s background (he was homeless as a teen in Paris and a busker, before exploring symphonic music and spoken word) that gives the record a quiet poignancy. Add to the mix his voice, which could shatter hearts, and the comparisons to Edith Piaf and Anohni (one of last year’s International Festival stars) make perfect sense. Festival Theatre, 10 Aug, 7.30pm, £10–£35. REFLECTIONS ON SYRIA Rel ections on Syria, an event held in collaboration with Shubbak, London’s biennial festival of contemporary Arab culture, mixes not only music, but i lm and theatrical pieces to create an afternoon of learning and understanding. Artists who live and work in Syria present their own lived experiences as a means of introducing new stories and memories to the audience. As well as documentary i lmmaker Yasmin Fedda and theatre director Rafat Alzakout, classical musician Maya Youssef performs a set that explores the concept of music as an act of healing in relation to what’s happening in Syria right now. The Studio, 13 Aug, 3pm, £4–£8.

STAFFA Staffa is a full orchestral work taking in three different visions of the uninhabited Hebridean island from BAFTA-winning i lmmaker Gerry Fox and composer Ned Bigham. In 1829, a trip to Staffa inspired Felix Mendelssohn to create his ‘Hebrides Overture’, an example of an early tone poem that he tentatively named ‘Fingalshöhle’ (Fingal’s Cave) after the sea cave he explored, a title which stuck after the

96 THE LIST FESTIVAL 3–10 Aug 2017

HAD WE NEVER A bewitching way to end an evening at the Festival, these late-night gigs take place in the imposing Great Hall of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, and are centred on our national Bard. In Robert Burns: Chains and Slavery, roots and reggae singer- songwriter Ghetto Priest teams up with countertenor David James and bass Brian Bannatyne-Scott, as well as Makar Jackie Kay and members of the Scottish Ensemble. Together, they delve into Burns’ legacy to present music and poetry inspired by both his work and new Burns-related exhibitions by Douglas Gordon and Graham Fagen. Ghetto Priest and the Scottish Ensemble take on Burns’ ‘The Slave’s Lament’, a poem highlighting his oft-noted disdain for injustice, while David James sings Arvo Pärt’s arrangement of ‘My Heart’s in the Highlands’. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 17 & 18 Aug, 9pm & 11pm, £25. THE MAGNETIC FIELDS: 50 SONG MEMOIR Stephin Merritt, in a celebration of his 50th birthday, has written an entirely new set of 50 songs, to be performed, along with a larger Magnetic Fields band than usual, in an event that takes place over the course of two nights. One song for each year alive covers the highs and lows of Merritt’s existence, from the Vietnam War to medical conditions (he suffers from hyperacusis, a sensitivity to certain frequencies and volumes) as well as love, loss and music. His dual showcases will be accompanied by a staging spectacular which includes half a century of articles from his life, featuring reel-to-reel tape decks, old computers, a tiki bar and vintage magazines for you to l ick through, should you become bored at any point. Spoiler: this is unlikely. King’s Theatre, 25 & 26 Aug, 8pm, £20–£32.

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