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Pronounced as in iced rather than pissed, the sixth annual Glasgow Tryst rolls around again. There are about two score folk festivals over the year, and apart from the Easter Edinburgh event, this November ‘happy meeting' has become the most ambitious on the Scottish calendar, with twelve days of events ranging from the Royal Concert Hall appearance of the Boys of the Lough to storytelling afternoons, singing competitons, and free pub sessions.
The Festival organisers promote the twelve-day event as a celebration of Scottish Traditional Folk Music, Language, Song and Dance, and pretty much keep the horizon at Carter Bar. No pan pipes or koras at this festival, but there is a touch of the exotic in the Bagad Kemper pipe band from Brittany.
Our Celtic cousins in the corner of north-west France are fond, sometimes passionately, of the harp and, of course, the bagpipe. The indigenous Breton pipes are the biniou, a small high pitched bagpipe, usually played in duet with the bombarde, an aptly titled mouth-blown reed pipe related to the shawm or early oboe. The bombarde‘s stirring sound is hard to ignore, especially when, as in the annual Festival Interceltique in the Breton town of Lorient, there is an outbreak of bombardiers in one of the session bars; but its volume means that it can relate to the Highland bagpipe on equal terms.
The great Scottish pipe has migrated around the world, finding niches in many local musical ecologies from Pakistan to the Gulf Emirates, where determined Arabs fight to keep their reeds moist in camel-mounted pipe bands.
The pipe band movement in Brittany, and its adoption of the Scottish instrument, dates from the end of the Second World War. A Scots-style drum corps is included, but with the bombardes, binious and Breton tunes and rhythms, their music is a refreshing surprise. See the whole band, overall-strong, for free at George Square, noon on St Andrew‘s
Boys of the Lough
, day, and in concerts and ceilidhs 5 during the week.
Two concerts of original music rooted
g in Scotland's continuing harp tradition ; reflect a contemporary flowering of l creativity, further underlining the g revival of interest in Scotland's ancient national instrument. Savourna Stevenson's recording and i performance piece ‘Tweed Journey‘ i uses a rock/jazz instrumental line-up, 3 introduced incrementally, to swell the E harp-river’s musical progress to its full 1 majesty and imminent extinction in the ! Berwick sea. } The second event, owing more to 1 traditional idioms, is staged on the last evening of the Festival. Brought up in Glasgow, but with a Donegal lamin background, William Jackson is the harp player in Ossian and composer of large-scale works which orchestrate traditional instruments in unusual ' settings. Just back from a concert in Japan, he is busy taking a mixed group of classical and folk musicians through ‘St Mungo’, the follow-up to his successful commissioned work of a few years back, the 'Wellpark Suite’. The concert performance of ‘St Mungo' will also include the premiere of the Glasgow Festival Strings of Gaidhealtachd, his musical evocation of the the Gaelic-speaking homelands of Ireland and Scotland. See Folk Listings for full details. (Norman Chalmers)
40 The List 23 November— 6 December 1990