Royal Scottish National Orchestra Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Thu 15 Oct
In an effort to take the mystery out of contemporary classical music, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra have launched the Discovery Series, a programme of concerts and study sessions which will run from October to April. The first concert sees the Scottish premiere of Messiaen’s Eclairs Sur L’Au-Dela which was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and given its world premiere in 1992.
The Discovery Series comprises contemporary classical music with more established works. Composer and artistic director of the series James MacMillan feels that this cautious approach will be more effective than a festival of purely new music. 'We’re not going back to the 19th century with the older pieces; they’re early 20th century works which in their time were regarded as avant garde. The message is that it takes time for works to establish themselves and maybe these new works that people will be hearing for the first time in Scotland will in time become mainstream.’
On the Sunday prior to each concert, there will be a free study session in which the performance will be discussed. ’T he general problem people have with new music is that they are genuinely baffled by it. It’s a comprehension problem,’ explains MacMillan. ’We want to entertain and inform, so we’ll be talking about the music from the stage.’
World renowned percussionist Evelyn Glennie, who is also involved with the programme, agrees that these sessions are very important. 'I sometimes have great problems with new music myself; not all pieces are that easy to understand or digest,’ she admits. 'We want to give as much information as we can in the time that we have!
In addition to the study sessions, there will be an
James MacMillan: putting the modern under the microscope
introduction prior to each concert hosted by MacMillan and broadcaster Lynne Walker. This will be done in the presence of the full orchestra, who will perform extracts of the music, and in some cases, the composer will also be available to discuss the piece. The aim is to give the audience as full a picture of the music as possible, in the hope that they will make the effort to seek out new music in the future.
’Music is a fundamentally important aspect of culture,’ stresses MacMillan, ’and if Scotland wants to be a grown-up and cultured country, then we’ve got to take on board this idea of musical knowledge.’
(Kirsty Knaggs) D For more in formation on the Discovery Series call the RSNO on 0141 225 3557.
RIAS: a helping hand for the big band soun
formed in war-diVided Berlin in 1948, under the leadership of a trombonist, Werner Muller. RIAS established itself as a Significant Outfit under his guidance, and he remained its director Uﬂhll966.
Subsequent directors, Helmuth Brandenberg and Horst Jankowski, expanded into more pop and easy listening, but the 1995 appointment of another trombonist, Jiggs Whigham, has restored the band's focus on Jazz, including r dropping the Dance Orchestra d designation in favour of Big Band. Whigham, no stranger to UK
RIAS Big Band
Glasgow: Royal Concert Hall, Wed 21 Oct.
The classic big band era of the late 30s and early 40s is now a distant memory, but despite many pronouncements of imminent doom, the big band itself has refused to fade away. Big band Jazz has enjoyed a significant revival in the burgeoning iazz education scene, while the Current craze for swing-style dancing now emerging in the USA may give the mUSlC a further boost.
44 THE lIST 8-22 Oct 1998
If the days when travelling big bands hit the dance hall circurt for months at a time are well and truly past, there are other staples of big band existence which continue to pop up. One such is the 'battle of the bands’ format, and the audience at the Concert Hall \Nl” have a chance to enjoy Just such an extravaganza when the familiar BBC Big Band and guest vocalist Madeline Bell share a concert With the RlAS Big Band of Berlin, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
The RlAS (it stands for Radio in American Sector) Dance Orchestra was
audiences, was a so|0ist With the Glenn Miller Orchestra while still a teenager, and combines his playing duties With a prestigious teaching appOintment in Cologne. Under his leadership, the band have instituted a series Of tribute concerts to the major creators of big band Jazz, including
Duke EllingtOn, Count Basie, Benny
Goodman and Stan Kenton, for whom Whigham worked before settling in Germany. Both bands Will have a well- stocked repertOire for the occasion, and plenty of interaction is promised, (Kenny Mathieson)
ROCK Damon and Naomi
Glas ow: The 13th Note, Wed 21 Octo er; Edinburgh: The Attic, Thu 22 Oct
Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang are best remembered as two-thirds of seminal Boston band Galaxie SOO. Galaxie split in 1991, but it’s only since then that the full impact of their hauntingly bare sound-craft has been realised. Two albums followed the split; 1991 ’s More Sad Hits and The Wondrous World of Damon And Naomi in 1995. They also set up their own publishing imprint Exact Change, dealing in lost translations and editions of great European and American works of avant-garde and surrealist literature.
Playback Singers, their latest album, is a stranger beast yet, marking their first venture into self-production. Previously having worked exclusively with Kramer, they opted for a change of direction. 'First we started performing live,’ begins Damon. 'And had to re-asses what sound we wanted to create.’
Naomi continues: 'And then there was Kramer . . . he has very definite ideas, but you don't get a lot of say, which was fine up to a point.’
The reSUIt is Playback Singers, the title taken from the anonymous singers whose songs are dubbed into Indian films. It includes reworkings of some of their earliest post-Galaxie work, revamped and re—thought. They recorded the album at home, by themselves, over the space of a year.
'We felt such strong connections,’ explains Damon. 'lt was dangerous constructing something at the same time as we were learning how to record and produce, but we wanted to show the sound we had first hoped for.’
influences from classical, folk and the aforementioned Bollywood film scores helped lend a warmer feel to their sound. Literary references abound, from the Moby Dick name-checking of 'The Navrgator' to the cerebral fear of 'i'm Yours’ with lyrics lifted from Dante's Inferno. Yet inferno or not, the pair have higher hopes and hearts than they have had for some time, especially for a group often desribed as ’gloriously miserable’.
'Well it’s better than miserably glorious,’ guips Damon.
’We never set out to be miserable,' chortles Naomi. 'And now we’re not.’ (Craig Reece)
Damon and Naomi: a band name unlikely to cause any problems with the Trade Descriptions Act