FESI IVAI. MUSIC
BIG BANG MUSIC
Carol Main talks to Carl Davis about the premiere ofhis Fireworks Music — spirited Festival music that‘ll set the sparks ﬂying.
How could the Edinburgh Festival ever have been the Edinburgh Festival without it'.’ Literally a highlight attracting thousands of specatators and known now with great affection as the Fireworks Concert. Each year since it started in 1982 the display of fireworks has grown more and more spectacular, gentle oohs and aahs from the crowds thronging Princes Street and its gardens developing into loud cheers and applause as the dark silhouette of the Castle is illuminated by great bursts and ﬂoods ofcolour. And the music too. performed by the SC() and always with Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks as its centrepiece. has reached its own new heights each year. But this year. Handel has a rest and the specially commissioned Glenlivet Fireworks Music will be heard for the first time. Written by Carl Davis. who also conducts. it is. says Davis ‘the first piece since Handel‘s to be specially composed for a fireworks display as far as I know‘. Handel‘s premiere was rather disastrous as it seems the music was over before the
rattler... fittiléliliw Inc u e e an ORCHESTRAS HelsinkiJuri’ior Strings | giving the Opening Concert (in aid at the Fringe New
OK. maybe theatre rulesthe Fringe. but music is hardly standing by just idly letting itall happen. Take a two-second look through
i Building Fund) on Saturday
' 8 with the premiere oi a new piece. Daydreams with Numbers, by Edinburgh
(he Fm, e based composer, Hailidi
. .0 prografnme and Hallgrimsson. Then there's it s notlustmega venues m“, Assam” mm Hong Kong Youth Symphony
Orchestra on Tuesday11 and Wednesday 12. the National Children's Orchestra (imagine being too old at 14) on Thursday 27 and Friday 28 and Strathclyde Schools on Saturday 29. Admission is cheap. Free. in tact. to children, students and UB40‘s.
0 Festival oi British Youth Orchestras. National Association oiYouth Orchestras, Central Hall. Tollcross (venue 100) 8-29 Aug (not Suns or Mon 10). 12.30pm (check Fringe Programmme tor dates) and 7.30pm. £3.00 (OAP'S £1.50). Lunchtimes £1.00. (children. students. UB40’s Free to all pertorrnances)
Innovations in this year's Festival are riding high in just about every area otthe arts. One oithe most exciting in the music input is the complete cycle oi Beethoven Ouartets bythe Melos Ouartet oi Stuttgart. At11 o‘clock on six mornings atthe Oueen's Hall audiences with plenty oi stamina can hear all 16
Pleasance that make a dramatic entrance irom the page. What about Philomusica with everything irom Bach toA Bold Hippopotamus? Or St John's at 6.30 with Rumillajta to Brandy OiThe Damned? Leading the Fringe's amateur music element is undoubtedly the National Association oi Youth Orchestras with its own Festival-within-a- Festival at 30 ditterent orchestral and chamber music concerts. Called a Festival oi British Youth Orchestras. but now including guest orchestras irom abroad. something like 1500 young musicians gather at the Central Hall, Tollcross.
Regular attenders are Strathclyde Schools Orchestra, who have given the Closing Concertiora number 01 years withtop proiessional conductor John Lubbock. Strathclyde Music AdviserJames Clark tinds attraction in ‘an orchestra irom the west side oi the country playing in the east side. We always lind an enthusiastic and
fireworks even started, but Davis‘ piece ‘is
composed with the idea that it be completely synchronised with the fireworks‘. Describing it, he explains ‘lt‘s a set of variations on a Scottish theme. Green Grow the Rashes. O by Burns. It‘s a very beautiful melody and I‘ve always been waiting for a chance to use it. It puts the theme through its paces— it gets richer and richer. turns into a waltz, then a polka and a march. At the
climax the choir comes in.‘
Writing for such an event has its obvious problems. As Davis says. ‘The thing about it is it can never be rehearsed. So what has to happen is we plan it on paper‘. Working with WilfScott. the designer. Davis explains ‘We made a plan and I wrote a piece to fit. made a tape and sent it to Wilf. We just had a wonderful fantasy‘.
The Fireworks Concert is not Davis‘ only appearance in Edinburgh. ‘1 think this may be the first time I‘m doing two concerts in one day. I‘m conducting at the Usher Hall just before the Fireworks. It‘s a charity gala in aid of the Arts
quartets as well asthe Grosse Fugue Op 133. Although tickets are available tor single concerts, it should be well worth hearing the whole lot. As leaderWilhelm Matcher says, ‘Beethoven in his quartets spanned the arch irom the beginning oi the genre, that is irom Hadyn and Mozart, to the twentieth century, as tar as Bartok.’ Renowned tortheir recordings oi the Schubert, Mendelssohn and. just completed last year. the Beethoven quartets, the Melos has existed now tor over20 years. incredibly with the same personnel. It you can't make it to the Queen's Hall, you can hear the complete cycle broadcast live on Radio 3. o The Complete Beethoven Cycle, Melos Ouartet ot Stuttgart, Oueen's Hall, Clerk Street. 11. 13. 15. 17. 19. 21 Aug. 11am. Tickets 225 5766. (EIF)
CONTEMPORARY MUSIC WEEKEND
One way tor a testlval director to escape criticism oi his choice, is to let someone else do the choosing. In a talriy solid run oi live concerts. it is the young Finnish conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen's selection which ionns a weekend at 20th-century music at the Queen's Hall. With the emphasis on works irom the USA and USSR. it teatures some halt dozen UK and world premieres.
including two by Salonen himselt and the piano quintetAkea by Xenakis. whose music was so zealously received in Glasgow earlierthis year. Artists include the renowned Arditti Ouartet giving the tirst periormance ot a work by the Russian Soiia Gubaidulina and the Paragon Ensemble. whose director David Davies also appears as ilautist in an electronic music programme. Although criticism at actual choice at music is escaped, the Festival still has to tace criticism oi the concept. As Davies says, ‘Myieelings are I’m delighted to see contemporary music done atall but I'm a little sceptical about the need tor it to be in one weekend and billed as something ditterentirom music in general'. Houses at last year's equivalent weekend were tar irom capacity. and, as Davies puts it. ‘All the works are interesting. butl don’tthink it’s a way oi converting audiences.’ Paragon's own concert. which brings the weekend to a close, sounds particularly intriguing with works by Steve Reich. George Crumb and another premiere tor Gubaidulina. using all sorts oi peculiar instruments. summed up by Davies enigmatically as ‘an exotic presentation’. Devotees at Steve Reich can heara whole programme ot his work presented by Coincidental
Education Trust with the SCO. the brilliant percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Isobel Buchanan— and Billy Connolly. With all this comes Steve Nallon ofSpitting Image who does a wonderful Mrs Thatcher. Billy Connolly‘s going to read the Tay Bridge Disaster which I‘ve set as a Victorian melodrama and there‘ll be excerpts from Napoleon. l‘m mixing clowns with culture and it‘s going to be a day ofgreat endurance!‘
A great enthusiast of the Festival. Davis is no stranger to it. Still well remembered for Abel Gancc‘s Napoleon in 1981. for which he created a new film score performed live by the Wren Orchestra at the Playhouse. he was back there last year with Von Stroheim‘s Greed. Speaking of this year‘s programme he says ‘I think there‘s some wonderful theatre — it‘s a great coup to bring over the Berliner Ensemble. I‘m longing to see the Russian orchestral concerts and the date I really want to catch is Gerswhin‘s Girl Crazy‘.
The date that thousands will be wanting to catch though is Thursday 20th August when as well as the world premiere of Carl Davis’ Glenlivet Fireworks Music the SCO with the Scottish Philharmonic Singers will be at Princes Street Gardens with Handel‘s Zadok the Priest. Copland‘s Fanfare for the Common Man. music from Walton‘s Henry V Suite and Davis‘ Prince Regent. All with fireworks and. we hope. a clear sky. (Carol Main)
The Glenlivet Fireworks Concert, Ross Bandstand, Princes Street. Thurs 20, 10.45pm. Free. Tickets: personal application to Edinburgh Tourist Ofﬁce. Waverley Market, 3 Princes Street from 15 August.
Music at St Mark's Unitarian‘ Church. This little pocket 01 new music also includesthe chambergroup City Garden with programmes 01 works by Cage. Arvo Part. Maxwell Davies and contemporary musictrom Denmark.
0 Esa-Pekka Salonen —A Weekend at 20th Century Music. Oueen's Hall. Sat 22.11am and 3pm; Sun 23. 12pm and 4pm; Mon 24. 113m. £2.50—£5.50 (series discount available). Tickets: 225 5756 [HP] 0 Coincidental Music—The Music oi Steve Reich. St Mark’s Unitarian Church. Castle Terrace (venue 90) Sun 23, 9pm; Thurs 27, Fri 28. 1pm. £2.50 (£1.50) [Fr] 0 City Garden. St Mark’s Unitarian Church, Castle Terrace (venue 90) Mon 24. Tue 25. Wed 26.1pm; Danish Cultural Institute. 3 Doune Terrace. Wed 26. 7.30pm. £2.50 (£1.50) [Fr]
Maybe you'll have more success than I. but asthe big F-day draws near, I'm still desperately tearing the Fringe programme apart trying to lind the Early Music Festival. Sadly. the conclusion must be that it’s not happening. The victim oitoo-small audiences probably. Still, all is not lostior early musicians. Jewel oi it all this yearmust be Emma Kirkby. incredibly pertorming at the Fringe. while the amateur Renaissance Group oi St Andrews get the glory otan otiiclal Festival slot. For
Miss Kirkby. partnered on lute by Anthony Rooley. it’s French. English and Scottish music irom the 16th Century at the Portrait Gallery and, irom the same period. the Renaissance Group periorm Scottish composer Robert Carver's Mass tortive voices at St Giles‘. More energetic early tare comes irom the ever popular Edinburgh Renaissance Band, doing a Five o’Clock Stomp and a Late Night Show. teaturing nakers. sackbuts, crumhorns. rebecs-and two dancers in authentic costume. 400 year-old pop music is also the hallmark at Glasgow Arts Centre's
Flat Pavan. with that chartbusting duo Dowland and Morley at StAndrew’s and St George's. (Carol Main) 0 Emma Kirkby and Anthony Rooley, Scottish National Portrait Gallery,1 Queen Street (venue 87) Mon 24, 7.30pm. £4.50 (£2.50). Tickets: 556 0921 (ext 297) [Fr] 0 Renaissance Group oi St Andrews. St Giles' Cathedral, High Street. Sun 30.10.30pm and Mon 31. 7.30pm. £4. Tickets: 225 5756 [HP] 0 Edinburgh Renaissance Band. Epworth Halls. 25 Nicoison Square (venue 63) 15, 22 and 29 Aug at 5pm and 14. 15, 21, 22, 28 and 29 Aug at 10.30pm. £2.50 (£1 .50). [Fr] 0 Flat Pavan. St Andrew's and St George’s Church, George Street (venue 111)Aug 10. 11. 13, 7.30pm. £2 (£1) [Fr]
The List 7-20 August 29 .