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Carol Main investigates a new group that aims to bring greater attention to certain women composers who have in the past achieved only scanty coverage.
As titles go. Did Strozzi Wear Knickers? would probably rate quite highly in any league table ofthe attention-grabbing headlines traditionally favoured by Fringe performers. But scratch the surface and you will ﬁnd that this show is no undergraduate or under-rehearsed innuendo—ridden romp around the nether regions of the body. It‘s not even in the theatre section. Did Strozzi Wear Knickers? is an intelligent and well- focused look at work by women classical composers. some of whom have been hitherto rather neglected. Presented by The Eve Music Group. Strozzi takes its name from the 17th century Venetian singer and composer Barbara Strozzi. the adopted daughter of poet Giulio Strozzi.
The group itself was originated by the young London-based soprano Amanda Pitt. who graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama last year. ‘Eve is a group i formed with a composer friend, Ruth Byrchmore. when we were both at the Academy.‘ Pitt explains. ‘l‘m a singer and l‘d done some of her music and we just got talking about women composers. For instance. although I've had a classical music education and knew about the
famous French group of composers labelled Les Six. i had no idea that one ofthem was a woman. i thought. hang on a minute. did some research and found that there were quite a lot of female composers.’
The next step was a successful debut concert in London in March l993. which led to the idea ofdoing more. and a trip to the Fringe last summer. ‘II was a bit of an experiment then.‘ she says. ‘but now we‘re more sorted out. Apart from Edinburgh. we're appearing at the Woking Festival. birthplace of Ethel Smythe. to mark the 50th anniversary of her death. Then there‘s the Wimbome Festival and a tour of Germany next summer. when we‘ll concentrate on Germanic female composers. Eventually. we hope to develop links with male composers so that women are not ghettoised. Clara and Robert Schumann and Brahms being a good example. ()r looking at the composers who influenced Lili Boulanger, who died when she was only 25 but left over 50 works. We‘re not saying women composers are better and not saying that they are worse: it‘s just that there is good music out there by women which ought to be heard.‘
The Edinburgh programme includes
six songs for soprano and piano by Boulanger. as well as Judith Weir‘s The King ()fFranee and l’ierrot for violin. clarinet and piano by Thea Musgrave. Several pieces by co-fonnder Ruth Byrchmore. including the world premiere of lady ()fSl/(Ult't’h‘ for guitar and narrator. are featured and an element of surprise is provided by a special ensemble piece. And. oi‘coursc. there‘s some Strozzi. The core group of musicians is Pitt. Fiona l-larris (piano) and guitarist Julian Cowie. ‘We thought it was a good idea to steer away from just women performers.‘ says Pitt. ‘lt raises all sorts of questions about image. marketing. who you want to attract. We certainly don‘t want to alienate by appealing to too small a group. ()ther players are brought in as required. depending on the repertoire.‘ And Stroni‘s knickers? Well. it was none other than Casanova who asserts in his diaries that the buxom Barbara wore no underwear. This Fringe. we hear the music. Next year. Did .S‘trozzi Wear Knickers might just be that bawdy sex romp after all. I Did Strozzi Wear Knickers? (Fringe) Eve Music Group. St John‘s Church (Venue l27) 225 6485. lo. l8. 20 Aug. 6pm.£~1(£3).
The traditional airs and dance music oi Ireland are a great test oi ability on any instrument, but the ulllean pipes easily wins the diiiicuity stakes. Davey Spillane Is a virtuoso exponent oi that complex bellows-blown bagplpe and oi straight traditional music, especially the wild-spirited style oi the older travelling pipers like Johnny Doran. What makes him stand out irom the dozens oi very ilne players who happily now enrich the Irish music scene Is not only the iact that he builds them himseii, but the
way he uses the instrument in other contexts.
A member oi all the incarnations of Moving Hearts, his assertive, iluent, rhythmic piping and insinuatingly expressive playing on the low whistle was at the front line of that superb rock/ian/iunk/iolk band.
Over the last iew years, his own albums ilow through blues, bluegrass and contemporary popular music iorms, continually searching for new
ways to use the pipes. He’s always jetting oii somewhere to do session work. Recently he’s been recording with Sakamoto, Kate Bush, working on the iilm score ior ‘Wuthering Heights’ and Traiiic’s latest album.
His own latest, released in the UK this week is titled ‘A Place Among The Stones’, recorded at his home studios down in Kerry. The usual band at guitars, bass, drums and keyboards is augmented on vocals by Steve Winwood, Clannad’s Maira Brennan, and great Irish singer Sean Tyrell.
The band promote the album with a short UK tour, but it you miss them this time, they’ll be back in October. (Norman Chalmers)
The Davey Spillane Band (Fringe) Acropolis (Venue 260) 557 6969, Wed 17, 8pm, £8.50.
I Jah Wobble After a summer spent hitting the European festivals with his spellbindineg groovy band. and releasing his biggest album so far. punk‘s best bassist is finally reaping the acclaim he deserves.
Juli Wobble And The Invaders Of The Heart (Fringe) Acropolis (Venue 26 ) 55 7 6969. 16 Aug. 8pm. [9.
I Mike Scott Between Waterboys line- ups at the moment. Scott is plugging the gap with solo acoustic shows. this one in the city of his birth. Now firme ensconced in Scotland. so we can claim the lad as our own again.
Mike .S'eott (Fringe) Acropolis (Venue 26) 557 6969. 13 Aug. 8pm. £10.
I Edinburgh International Blues Festival Three days of blues in the Brewery. Ex-Stone Mick Taylor (Fri l2). guitarist Larry McCray (Sat l3) and harmonica man Charlie h’lusselwbite (Sun 14) are the headliners. with a big supporting cast of mainly Scottish bands.
Edinburgh International Blues Festival (Fringe) Caledonian Brewery (Venue 94) 220 1599. 12 Aug. 7.30pm. £10; 13 Aug. 12.30an [4; 7.30pm. £10; 14 Aug. 12.30pm. [4; 7.30pm. £10.
I The Fall Confounding the unwritten law for rock groups. The Fall get better as they get older. Expect plenty of tracks from their warmly-received 1994 LP Middle Class Revolt.
The Fall (Fringe) Aeropolis (Venue 26) 55 7 6969. 15 Aug. 8pm. £9.
I The Rio Trio One for the Pasadena Roof ()rchestra fans. albeit in miniature. and zany with it. Multi- instrumental dash through the 20s and 30s. with a look back to ragtime and vaudeville from a trio new to the Fringe.
The Rio 'l'rio (Fringe) Festival Club (Venue 36) 650 2395. 14—27 Aug (not Aug 25), 8pm. [5 (£4.50).
I Unduo A Brazilian combo specialising in the rhythms of samba. baiai and bossa nova as well as others from around the world.
Unduo (Fringe) Demarco European Art Foundation (Venue 22) 15—20 Aug. 12.15am. £5 (£3.50).
The List 12—18 August I994 81