ELSE!- KEYED UP
In just under ten years. the Scottish International Piano Competition has established itself as one of the leading events of its kind in the world. Now happening for the fourth time. again in Glasgow. no less than 200 applications have been received from talented young pianists in countries as far afield as Japan. America. North 5 Korea. Spain and Venezuala. Prize money totals £25.()()() and. in addition. finalists can expect offers of prestigious engagements to be flowing. ‘
Among the 3b successfully placed applicants only one is from Scotland. Joseph Long from Muchalls. just outside Aberdeen. Clearly not bowing to the potential stress such a competition may incite. he is relaxed about his part in it. ‘The upper age limit is 3].' he explains. ‘and I‘m twenty at the moment. so obviously it‘s a great honour to be accepted. but I try not to feel under pressure. For me. it'sjust experience. I‘m doing a lot ofcompetitions at the moment and if I'm successful. then great. but if not. then. well. you just don't tell anyone.’
For some. competitions are hard-edged. aggressive even. Long is different. ‘I don't have the killer instinct about it.‘ he says. ‘but lots of people do play to impress rather than to be understood.’ Leading up to the final. a gala occasion when four finalists play a concerto of their choice with the RSNO at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. are preliminary stages at the RSAMD which include a specially commissioned new work. Caprir‘t‘lo. by Frank Spedding. Long is working hard in preparation. ‘l‘m practising more than I might fora recital'. he says. ‘although on the other hand you don't want to get so utterly perfect that it‘s just routine.‘ His attitude to the controversial world of music competitions seems a healthy one. And he doesn't even mention the prize money. (Carol Main)
The Scottish International Piano Competition takes place at the RSAMD. Glasgow and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall from Sun IO—Sun l7.
‘ exactly thick on the ground, but the
é off for quite a while, and I felt it was time to try to give it a bit of push. It’s more intimate than playing with my
. other bands, and the material is a bit é different, too - we do some originals,
Steve Hamilton: earning distinction
Steve Hamilton graduated in Performance from Berklee College in Boston with the famous jazz school’s highest distinction, and now faces the even more daunting task of making his mark in the world of professional music. The jazzman’s lot is still not an easy one, and opportunities are not
pianist is set to give it his best shot. ‘Berklee was a great experience, and
I suppose I learnt quite a bit on the
academic side of the course, but the
best part of it was really getting to know and exchange ideas with other people with the same interests as me. I am very conscious of the tact that my time there has really expanded my horizons, both musically and personally, and that seems even more valuable at this stage than the course work.’
Hamilton was born in Aberdeen, but his next Scottish gig, at Stirling University, is just along the road from the family home in Bannockburn. His father, Laurie, is also a musician, and his mother was the ‘fund-raising genius’ behind his efforts to reach Berklee, so he has never been short of parental encouragement.
Each successive visit home over the past four years has revealed his obvious growth as a musician, and he can now list collaborations with the likes of Tommy Smith, Cary Burton, Lew Soloff and Marvin ‘Smitty’ Smith on his fast-expanding CV.
‘The next step for me now is moving to London, which I hope to do in the next few weeks. There are simply not enough opportunities to play regularly in Scotland, but I hope that I can find enough in London to keep me going, rather than having a cluster of gigs and then a big gap, and it is also close enough to home to allow me to keep in
: close touch with my family and friends
up here, and to play whenever the chance comes up.’ (Kenny Mathieson) Steve Hamilton Quartet play at the Macﬂobert Centre, University of Stirling, Fri 15.
rm— Speake softly
Martin Speake is best known to Scottish audiences as a member of the saxophone quartet Itchy Fingers, but he has been following diverse lines of activity since parting company with that hand back in 1988. The latest of these, a duo with guitarist Phil Lee, brings him north for some rare but very welcome gigs up here.
‘Phil and I have been playing on and
but mostly it’s jazz tunes that you don’t hear played all that much, by people like Kenny Wheeler, Bunky Green, Lee Konitz, and Bill Evans, and our own interpretations of standards.
‘Bill Evans is something of a point of connection for us, but I like to play with guitar anyway. My other bands feature John Parricelli, and I feel it is more open - with piano you can get locked in in a way that I don’t find with guitar. Phil is such a complete player harmonically, and I find that the actual sounds of the alto saxophone and guitar work well together.’
Speake also leads his own quartet, which had an excellent debut album, In Our Time, released on The Jazz Label early this year, and a seven- piece band, Fever Pitch, which has three percussion players, and is more influenced by Arabic, African, Indian and even latin rhythms.
Martin Speake: diverse paths
‘Ethnic music is an interest that has grown for me in the last three years or so. I’ve been working in a trio with two Indian musicians as well, and that is fairly strictly based in Indian styles, whereas Fever Pitch is a bit more of a hybrid. I would really like to record that band now, but it is difficult to get anyone to take a chance on it. There is a strong possibility of a record with Phil Lee for Spotllte, though.’ (Kenny Mathieson)
Martin Speake and Phil lee play at The lemon Tree, Aberdeen, Tue 19,
and the Tron Jazz Cellar, Edinburgh, Wed 20.
Best foot I'w
I Phil Cunningham
The surfeit of summer festivals and the excesses of Edinburgh‘s Fringe are now over. giving way to the autumn season oftuition and workshops in the folk arts and instruments. In Glasgow. ace accordionist Freeland Barbour‘s weekly Ceilidh Dance classes start up again. a learn-as-you-dance experience led by caller and teacher Karen Ingram. Alasdair Fraser's brother lain is also a great fiddler and experienced teacher. his weekly fiddle school catering for all levels up to advanced. and teaching Scots fiddle in all its moods. but with an emphasis on playing for the dance.
Over in Edinburgh. the astonishingly successful Adult Learning Project holds its enrolment evening for classes in Accordion. Fiddle. Step Dancing. Whistle. Pipes. Song. Guitar. Ceilidh Dance and Mixed Instrumental. Tutors are drawn from the ranks of the many professional folk bands and musicians based in Edinburgh and the classes usually adjourn to neighbourhood howffs for informal sessions.
And if you live south of the Capital. play the fiddle or box and want some encouragement from the masters. then Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham are hosting afternoon workshops before their Lauder concert. Phil explains. ‘We'll tailor it to suit the people who come along. We‘re not going to teach people how to play. but we‘ll talk about how we approach tunes. show how to get lift and expression into the melodies. arrangements. playing with other people and in fact any subject that turns tip we‘ll try and deal with.‘
Phil is dealing with quite complex musical problems of his own at the moment. ‘lt's titled The Highlands and Islands Suite. and it‘s going to be premiered in January. l've scored it for the RSNO augmented by a 3(I-piece Highland fiddle orchestra. a 4(I-strong Gaelic choir. Capercaillie's singer. Karen Mathieson. and three pipers. the MacDonald brothers from Glenuig. Oh. and Aly on the fiddle. But so they can get the parts printed and we can rehearse. l have to have it finished by October!‘ (Norman Chalmers) Freeland Barbour's Ceilidh Dance Workshops take place on Mondays at The Riverside. Glasgow; Iain Fraser's Fiddle Classes on Wednesdays at Washington Street Arts Centre. Glasgow; ALP Enrolment is at the St Bride '5 Centre. Edinburgh on Tue I 9; and Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain 's Workshop is at the Black Bull Hotel. Lauder. Sat 9.
35 The List 8-21 Sept 1995