The Blue Nile in Chicago. Musica Nova. 'l‘lie Trojans. music from The Ship. A Gentle Sound.The


Pearl Fishers and Nick Robertson.




New music


Kenny Mathieson looks forward to not hearing John Cage‘s ‘4 mins 33 secs’ in Glasgow‘s triennial celebration of New Music.

Pop‘s version of New Music World has come and gone. and it is now the turn of the contemporary classical composers to have their say in Glasgow's triennial new music festival Musica Nova. The popular reception of new music (‘contemporary classical‘ is even more meaningless than most of the tags mis—applied to musical forms) has taken a perceptible turn for the better in the last few years. and if it is early days to declare a new lease oflifc. it is good nonetheless to see indications of

vitality in the patient.

The recent E(‘A'l‘concerts in the Edinburgh Festival were well attended and enthusiastically received. at least by the standards of a music in which the performers have been known to outnumber the audience. New music has been a cliquish activity for far too long. and badly needs an injection of a new audience to complement the activities ofcomposers like James MacMillan. who are throwing off the overly academic shackles imposed by the music school hierarchy in the UK in favour of a music which combines a contemporary musical language with the energy and vibrancy of rock and jazz.

‘People who were doing interesting things in the 60s are now the university professors of the 9(ls.‘ says MacMillan. ‘and their rather outmoded

The Whistlebinkies: reunited with John Cage

avant-garde ideas are being perpetuated by the students. ldon't see much ofinterest coming out of university music departments now. and I think it is because the teachers are a stultifying influence. stemming from the problem of institutionalising something which should not have been institutionalised.

"These people are now the arbiters of taste. and [don’t think they know how to respond to the really interesting developments around them. Young composers should sometimes ignore their teachers. and lose their awe of the generation which immediately preceded them. They have to

make their own decisions.‘

MacMillan is the only Scot among the four

featured composers in this year‘s Festival. which

' prides itselfon taking a genuinely international look at new developments and established figures alike. The programme will feature a comprehensive retrospective of his work. from the early Two Visions ofHoy to his recent Proms triumph The Confessions ofls‘obel (iowdie and the world premiere of his Piano Concerto.

The legendary American avant-garde composer John Cage returns to Scotland with a new. specially composed work. and renews his association with The Whistlebinkies. who will play Scottish ( ‘ircus as part of a concert combining their music with Cage's.

It will also feature the composer's notorious ‘4 mins 33 secs‘. in which the musicians play nothing at all for precisely that length oftime. and the ambient sounds in the room (including shuffling offeet. gentle snores or snorts ofindignation) become the ‘music’. Familiarity has blunted the conceptual point as well as the outrage value of the piece. but Whistlebinkie Edward McGuire promises a surprise twist.

Nigel ()sborne is a leading figure on the English new music scene. and the Festival will premiere his Violin Concerto. with Ernst Kovacic as soloist. Wolfgang Rihm is a less well-known name in this country. but the survey of his work will also include a new and as yet unnamed world


There will be a panel discussion with the four featured composers on 19 September at 4pm in the University Senate Room. while each will give a public talk in the course of the week. In addition to the formal concerts at the Henry Wood Hall and the University (‘oncert Ilall. there are also a number ofOpen Rehearsals. associated workshops in conjunction with the Society for the Performance of New Music. and the now traditional closing Ceilidh featuring The Whistlebinkies. See Listings for details.

M usic Nova runs from I 5—22 September.


I MOUTH MUSIC (see album review) are ‘doing it arse-about-tace' in the delicate words oltheir record label boss Ian Scott of Triple Earth. We call it ‘doing a Jesse Rae'. but that's by the way. The duo are making a video lorthe song ‘Bratach Bana' —it means ‘White Banners'- without any immediate plansto release it asa single. ‘We feel as a label

that they're worth it in terms of backing visually as well as aurally. with a viewto the future when such

. audio-visualtie-upsare more common.‘ says Scott.

The video will be released

l in Japan in October. via CBS

Sony. and inthe USAin

I February. via Rykodisc.


various New Music World

' panels to check out the

3 concerns of indie labels in

Europe and America. and turned up at the ‘Can the music press still break new bands?‘ seminar in time to see James Brown. features editor of the ‘NME' lose the onlookers' sympathy quite honestly. not in abundant supply in the first place. The bold chap was expending his greatest venom on publicists who constantly ring him up at the office to ask him if he's listened to the records they‘d sent him. when an audience member interrupted. But James. he reminded. you've just been talking about all the free trips ‘NME' writers get abroad. You can't have it

both ways. can you? The people thatyou say are hassling you are same ones who set up the trips. The Godfather of Features looked chastened fora gargantuan 30 seconds

afterwards. We here at

Listen! never get any free trips anywhere. so can quite happily request that no one badgers us about playing

the new Excalibur album. . (We haven‘t.)


L Music World. we kept : bumping into one ofthe


stall. who for the duration of

the event gleefully clutched

a pad of paper on which was written nothing but some

‘ludicrous‘ claims made by one of the panellists. Flashings of the pad were invariably accompanied by muttered remarks of the ‘l’ve got him thistime' variety. Further developments may or may not be in the air. I ONE THEME OFthe conference was the changing musical climate. and a few turned up tothe ‘ls indie dance killing live

. music?’ panel expecting

. Bill Drummond of the KLF's

presence to be the highlight

olthe event. but it failed to

top his inter-audience

exchange on the relative

I merits of Carole King and


McFadden and Whitehead earlier in the day. He had no scam up his sleeve on the level of his recent ‘Select’ article attacking DJs. buta laudable. if confused. attack on what we suppose used to be called rocklsm. But the arch-iconoclast. who embraced dance music and declared ‘the dance war has been won'. left with a warning. There was something in the airthathe couldn't quite put his finger on. and he pointedly remarked that he could be turning against the dance scene. despite it being the repositorylorthe anonymity and immediacy he loved.

The List 14 ~ 27 st'iLinIiél-Ffiiii 31