One of Canada’s hottest Singing stars looks forward to the Edinburgh International Folk Festival.
Canadian Rita MacNeil has been writing and performing her music for some seventeen years now despite admitting to being ‘a late starter‘. But it is only in the past two years that she has been on the brink ofthe success that looks set to give her star status. When she arrives in Scotland for her appearance at the Edinburgh Folk Festival this fortnight she should have just heard that her fourth and latest album Flying On Your Own has gone Gold.
Talking to her in Vancouver. where she was resting between concerts on the latest leg ofa major Canadian tour. as easily apparent as the lilting accent. was a hint of the shyness that led her to keep ‘to myselfas I was growing up‘ rather than joining in with the musical culture around her on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. That culture was heavily inﬂuenced by the waves ofemigrants from Scotland — in places Gaelic is still spoken as a first language. The Scots ﬂeeing from the Clearances brought their music with them. together with the ubiquitous fiddle. However. for Rita. despite the fact that her great grandparents were from Scotland. this Scottish inheritance was just one of many inﬂuences. ‘I took a long time to come forward to write or perform — and I don‘t think I have been inﬂuenced by any one particular kind of music. I‘ve been inspired by it all; many of the songs I write come out of the blues. some out ofcountry music and some from soft rock. It all depends. . . [don‘t have pre-conceived notions. it just seems to happen that way.‘
Perhaps it is this particularly original combination of musical styles that makes her lyrical swongs about real people so popular. but convincing distributors and radio stations has until now always been a problem. ‘The turning point came with the World Expo in Vancouver last year. I played for five weeks. pretty well every day. with three shows a day. There were people there from all over and it certainly helped get the name out.‘
Apart from a trip to Japan, where she represented Canada in the Hi Tech Expo. she has done little travelling abroad and has never been to Britain before. Despite the mixed inspiration behind her music. the visit to Scotland will undoubtedly be am important one for her.
‘I think that. so far. this is going to be the most exciting thing in my life.
It‘s been a lifelong dream — just to visit. never mind to perform — we‘re very excited. My father. bless his soul. before he passed away had the opportunity to go to Scotland once and it was a very moving experience. He always told me that I would feel a sense ofmyselfifI ever got the chance in my life and was fortunate enough to travel to Scotland.’
Rita MacNeilperforrns a late night concert at the Edinburgh Folk Festival on 14 April. See Folk Festival Listings for details.
Allan Hunter talks to Frederick Forsyth, author of The Fourth Protocol.
One might imagine that the last desire of a seemingly sane bestselling writer would be to involve himself in the uncharted waters of film production. But Frederick Forsyth has done just that as the screenplay writer and executive producer of the film version of his novel The Fourth Protocol.
Forsyth-19. published The Fourth Protocol in 1984. A chillingly plausible account ofa Russian attempt to detonate an atomic bomb in Britain. thus inﬂuencing the outcome of a general election, it sold some 71/: million copies. A former bullfighter. RAF pilot. Reuters reporter and BBC correspondent, Forsyth felt he might enjoy the challenge of personally overseeing the screen translation of his fifth novel. ‘I felt. rightly or wrongly, it would be stimulating and a lot of fun to try and turn it into a film on a more personal level than to simply sell the rights to some Hollywood studio or whatever. It would be a false conclusion to suggest that I was dissatisfied with previous films of my books. I thought Day oftheJackal was extremely well done. I would use the analogy that sometimes one travels by train and occasionally one decides it would be better to ﬂy. This
time I‘ve tried to ﬂy. No criticism of
the train.‘ Michael Caine is an old friend of
Forsyth‘s and readily admits that he would like to have played The Jackal. In 1984. Forsyth showed him the unpublished manuscript of Fourth Protocol and intimated that the role of spycatcher John Preston was his for the asking. The shared enthusiasm ofthe two men ensured that they both wound up as the film‘s executive producers although even then the search for an adequate level of finance was a long and patient one. ‘It was much harder work than I ever imagined.‘ says Forsyth. ‘Perhaps because I had never been involved in this side of the business before. I know alot more now and wouldn‘t make the same mistakes I made during the preparation period on The Fourth Protocol. 1 have learnt what to do and. more importantly, what not to do. I can‘t say I enjoyed the experience up to the first day of filming. After that it was much more pleasant.‘
Such was Forsyth’s exasperation with the film-making process that. at one stage. he vowed never to become involved with movies again. Why would a million-pound a novel writer need such aggravation? Now. in the heady glow ofa Royal premiere he comments; ‘I have no plans at the moment to make another movie but neither am I saying that I won‘t — and that is something I couldn’t have said a couple of months ago.‘
The Fourth Protocol opens at the Odeon, Glasgow on 3 April and the Odeon, Edinburgh on 1 7 April. See Film Listings for details.
Carol Main meets Glasgow composer Eddie McGuire.
Quietly unassuming. but an endless
source ofsurprise, might be a fair enough description of Eddie McGuire. Known to lovers of folk music, both in this country and abroad. through his popular Whistlebinkies group (in which he plays ﬂute), McGuire also displays a more serious side through his work as a composer. Although unpretentious. this soft spoken. slightly built Glaswegian has a long list of prestigious credits to his name. including winning the Hecht Prize in 1968, the National Young
Composers Prize the following year. the Society for the Promotion of New Music Prize for Rant.
Earlier this year.
Glasgow audiences heard some of
his most recent work in ‘3‘. the
trilogy of music theatre at the Tron. McGuire‘s latest commission comes from the Open University in Scotland. with funding from the Scottish Postal Board. Geared towards their Arts Foundation students. whose course does not include any music of this century. a decision on the sort ofwork to write could not have been that easy. ‘I was required to base it round Scottish Victorian poetry.‘ says McGuire. That was his only brief. However. with typical inventiveness and imagination McGuire has come up with something directly related to the students‘ preoccupation with the Victorian era of the 19th Century. ‘Rhymes My Granny Read‘. to be premiered by the New Music Group of Scotland. following their highly successful collaboration with the Open University last May. takes as its subject the poetry ofJanet Hamilton. whom McGuire describes as ‘one ofthe principal self-taught poets of Scotland. who wrote for the press. from a working-class background in (.‘oatbridge .‘ Hamilton‘s work is currently part ofa general reassessment of the ‘kailyard‘ tradition ofthe time. ‘In contrast to the romantic nature poetry of the 19th century. she wrote about the squalor and industrial scenery in her own area. Now this is being discovered to be an important historical document of the time she lived in. I thought that would be of more interest than the ephemeral romantic poetry you get a lot of.‘ does add though ‘you have to ignore some of her moralising — like about drink. It‘s really quite funny when she goes on about drunkenness.‘
But McGuire doesn‘t just draw from Janet Hamilton. ‘l intersperse her poems with children‘s playsongs of the period from the collection by William and Nora Montgomerie. He‘s a poet and his wife has illustrated the book. Now both in their seventies. it‘s been a lifetime‘s work (Scottish .N'ursery Rhymes Chambers £3.95 hardback). These rhymes are very short and provide the lighter material between the longer poems.‘
Performers of new music are well used to strange directions from their scores. but whether or not the New Music Group of Scotland can eotnply with all of McGuire‘s remains to be seen. ‘In the last streetsong they should be imitating a group of children coming back from a fair.‘ Rhymes My Granny Read is at the Queen '3 Hall. Edinburgh on Wed 15' April. See Classical Music.
The List 3 — lb April 1