R5 tunes to
James MacMiIlan: putting Scots composers on the map ;
The growing interest in contemporary Scottish composers — fuelled in particular by the much-publicised rise of James MacMillan to national attention - has finally been acknowledged by the classical music paniandrums at the BBC. For the first time, living Scottish (or Scottish- based) composers will feature in Radio 3’s venerable Composer of the Week slot, under the heading of Twentieth Century Scots.
The series has been produced by Simon lord at BBC Radio Scotland, and . will be presented by Brian Morton. The selection of composers offers no real surprises, ranging from elder statesmen like Ian Hamilton, Thomas Wilson and Ronald Stevenson through to the newer voices of Sally Beamish and Alasdair llicolson, with the final programme devoted to the music of
‘I think the BBC have become more aware of what is going on in Scotland in recent years, and I hope these programmes will underline the contribution which Scottish composers are making,’ Morton says.
‘This is not an attempt on our part to set up any kind of heirarchy or canon of composers - there are several more names which could have been included had time allowed - or to predicate a particular Scottish school or a national style which would differentiate it from musical developments elsewhere.’
As Morton points out, there are obvious native elements in the
: compositions of Edward McGuire (fed
in part through his membership of the folk band The Whistlebinkies) or William Sweeney, for example, but they are by no means common to all.
Instead, Scottish music shares a : broader kinship with contemporary 3 musical developments across Europe,
and beyond. The Scottish celebration will also
extend to an evening devoted to
Scottish music, this time as part of Radio 3’s year-long celebration of British music, Fairest Isle. A live
concert featuring the premiere of Sally Beamish’s Violin Concerto (and
an interval chat with the composer and trumpeter John Wallace) is followed by a less formal, semi- classical ceilidh. (Kenny Mathieson) Twentieth Century Scots are featured on Composer of the Week from Monday 22—Friday 27 January at 9am daily. The Scottish Evening is on Thursday 26 January from 7.30pm.
I The View From Here (Radio 4) Sat 14 Jan. l0.~15pm. Celebrated South African author Nadine Gordimer. is the first guest to appear in this new series inviting women writers to look back over their early work. When Gordimer‘s A Guest of Honour was first published in 1970. she declared it her personal favourite. Have her feelings towards it changed with time? Would she now alter it ifshe could turn back the clock?
I Desert Island Discs (Radio 4) Sun I5 Jan. 12.15pm. The man behind C4's soap success Brunkside and BBC TV‘s ever popular ‘school soap‘ Grange Hill. Phil Redmond joins Sue Lawley to mull over the sounds. the reading material and the one luxury he‘d choose to be stranded with on a desert island. Will he choose the Brookie theme tune or not'.’
I labs and Locker Rooms (Radio Scotland) Mon 16 Jan. 12.20pm. The first of five programmes in a new series which links sport to science. The subject of this week‘s show is snooker. World snooker champ Stephen Hendry and senior lecturer in physics at Edinburgh University pose the question: do you need an in-depth knowledge of physics to pot the black. or is it all just down to natural talent?
I The Amazing Spidennan (Radio 1) Mon 16 Jan. 4.20pm. Action heroes on the airwaves? Find out if William Dufris and Anita Dobson can pull it offin this radio adaptation of the original story by Stan Lee. Music by Brian May of Queen.
I The lost Souls (Radio 4) Wed 18 Jan. 8.45pm. The atrocities carried out on the Aboriginal people by its colonising powers lie at the heart of this documentary. Until as recently as 1970. the Australian government was allowing Aboriginal children to be forcibly removed from their homes and families
and ‘intergrated‘ into white society. The cornerstone of this government policy. known as ‘assimilation'. was to produce submissive domestic and service labour for the growing nation. Since colonisation. around a third of all Aboriginal children have ‘disappeared’ in this way. Clare Hampson talks to victims of the policy: those Aboriginals who‘ve reached adulthood as ‘lost souls‘.
I Mavericks (Radio I) Sun 22 Jan. 7pm. The cult of The Velvet Underground (through it‘s association with Andy Warhol) helped to shape the entire pop art movement back in the 60s. and has continued to wield its influence over
Q subsequent generations through the music. 9 and the legend. Mark Radcliffe examines
the legacy and talks to Lou Reed. John Cale. Maureen Tucker and The Velvet's biographer. Victor Bokris.
I The Big Byte (Radio 4) Sun 22 Jan. 7pm. This week‘s Big Byte features a challange to the Microsoft Corporation claim that ‘anyone can learn to use their windows software in ten minutes‘. as presenter Gareth Jones’s 70-year-old
' computer illiterate mum tries out the
software for the first time. live on air. Also news from the Cyberskills workshop in Bristol which provides Internet training for unemployed people and has been described in the States as ‘already doing what is otherwise only talked about in the US.‘
‘ I Night Waves (Radio 3) Tues 24 Jan.
10.45pm. A Night Waves special that sees Christopher Cook in search of the ‘Fellini‘s Roma’ stamped on the public imagination by films like La Dolce Vita. Sulvrir‘rm and Fellini ‘s Roma itself. Cook is joined by some of Fellini‘s stars. Claudia Cardinale. Sophia Loren and Anthony Quinn. and confessed Fellini- philes including John Landis and Martin Scorcese. as he looks at the city through the late. great director‘s lens. (Ellie Carr)
A plummy voice off camera. its owner choosing his words carefully: ‘What was the attraction of that very . . . ()utré bohemian lifestyle?‘
‘Like, what an L7. man.‘ responds the heavily-bearded Beat poet. increduously. ‘lfyou gotta ask. you‘re never gonna be hip to the scene. daddio.’ Sadly this wasn’t the actual answer supplied by Allen Ginsberg (for it is he) during his ‘Face to Face’ encounter with Jeremy lsaacs on the first Late Show (BBC2) of the year. Forty years ago, maybe. but times they have a-changed.
It was strange enough finding ‘America‘s greatest living poet' (Ginsberg demurred. incidently at this description. nominating Dylan as the main man) talking to the director of that counter-culture hangout. the Royal Opera House. This unlikely encounter threw up fascinating answers to banal questions, and almost flippant answers to pretty serious ones. Like. for instance, one on the impact of AIDS. ‘Well ljust wear a condom.‘ says Ginsberg, adding: ‘Not that I can get it up these days.‘ Or what about his greatest fear: ‘Cancer of the rectum.‘ Just the usual preoccupations of a 68- year-old in failing health.
What we really wanted to hear about, though. was the Beat survivor's hindsight view on pyschedelic drugs. Ginsberg revealed that much of his experimentation was an attempt to recapture a vision of William Blake who appeared in a chemically unaltered moment of madness. So would he do it all again? ‘The natural experience of expansive panoramic awareness can be catalysed by psychedelic drugs and I think they're quite useful,‘ says Ginsberg.
Great, let‘s go, but wait, there's a caveat. ‘I would recommend, however, people learn some meditative centering — the sitting practice of meditation — in order to ground themselves so that they’re not entangled in their own projections.‘ In short. tripping’s OK as long as you're Zen enough to handle it.
The austere ‘Face to Face' format. where the camera never leaves the interviewee. and Jeremy lsaacs' straightforward. if stuffy. questions. produced a marvellously compelling piece of television. When Ginsberg produced an unidentified accordion- like instrument and riffed wheezin along to his poem ‘Father Death Blues' it was unbelievably moving. This was the only moment when lsaacs' reaction
might have been revealing.
Barely has the last splash of tabloid ink dried on Cracker’s masked rapist case. when another heavyweight drama weighs in with was-she-asking-for-it storyline. She wasn‘t as it turned out. but the important thing was the effect the case had on the defence counsel's conscience.
The problem with making a series of feature-length films built around John Thaw, is that every critic will say. ‘oh. of course they‘rejust trying to repeat the massive success of Morse‘. Ooops, there I go. but it‘s true, I tell you. Kavanagh 00 (Scottish) has the air of a series whose whole point is its star. To Thaw were added: a situation — he's a successful silk; a character — he thinks deeply about the people he defends and may actually be that rare breed, a lawyer with a conscience. and domestic problems — his wife has just returned to the marital home after an affair with a junior barrister.
The extended ﬁrst episode sprawled languidly across two hours of peak Tuesday evening, allowing us plenty of time to get to know our new anti-hero. Thaw is a great actor. who by all accounts is as prickly and difficult to read as the characters he plays. Kavanagh QC involves ambitiously long courtroom set pieces which allow this watchable presence full rein. But if future episodes rely as heavily on the formalised drama of cross examination and Shakespearian addresses to the jury. even he will have his work cut out carrying the story.
And so to The ngh Life (BBC2). in which those camp Kelvinside wits. Victor and Barry, become stewards on Air Scotia’s Glasgow—London shuttle service. Having seen the trailers, this new show was watched. I'll be honest. in the expectation of taking the pish (a favourite High Life word. which may puzzle southern listeners). But in fact it's a magnificently trashy offering, with a joke rate at least three times higher than your average light entertainment offering. Forbes Masson and Alan Cumming. who wrote the series. have hit on the marvellous idea of introducing swean'e words into a family show by dropping into music hall Glaswegian so's no one will catch on.
It seems to work. How else would they get away with the line ‘He‘s two knobs short of a cockpit'. There‘s quality double entendre for you. (Eddie Gibb)
The List 13—26 January I995 69