Without exception, every page of the RSNO's Winter Season brochure has at least one conductor, soloist or piece of repertoire that tempts eye and ear to go a little further into the realms of orchestral music. Alexander Lazarev, Principal Conductor, is a powerful pull, especially in his opening concert of Mahler’s exhilarating Symphony No 1 and Tchaikovsky’s first Piano Concerto with John Lill. The 60th birthday celebrations of Conductor Emeritus, Walter Weller, when the orchestra and RSNO Chorus get together for Beethoven's Choral Symphony, promises another highlight as this great Viennese conductor makes his first visit to Scotland this season.

Other members of the artistic team are composers James MacMillan and Michael Torke and, most interesting of all, the young, dynamic American Marin Alsop, who has taken on the mantle of Principal Guest Conductor. A native of New York City and ex-pupil of Leonard Bernstein, she now works mainly with the Colorado Symphony, the .highly regarded Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California and her home city's Concordia Orchestra. Since she made her British debut with the RSNO three years ago, the relationship has gone from strength to strength. 'T he orchestra is just great and the quality of playing so high,’ she says. ‘And, on a personal level, I really like them.‘

Fortunately. the orchestra really like her too, which means planning ahead can be undertaken confidently. For instance, recordings of the complete symphonic works of Samuel Barber are underway. Also, contemporary American repertoire will be brought across the Atlantic on a more structured basis, building on success already achieved by Michael Torke‘s associate composership. To start, there is the premiere of his Percussion Concerto, an RSNO commission. 'lt's really interesting,’ says Alsop, 'because the first time I

The winter guest: Marin Alsop

conducted here I needed a soloist for James MacMillan's Veni, Veni Emanuel and the percussion people at the orchestra recommended the young Edinburgh-born Colin Currie. I've brought him to the US several times now, so I'm delighted that he is the soloist for this exciting new piece.’

The exchange of contemporary American and Scottish repertoire is vital to Alsop. 'I've been able to recommend the fantastic American composer Christopher Rouse and am also working towards bringing music by John Corigliano. But the great thing is that I also get to know about Scottish composers. Already I’ve had Sally Beamish at my festival in California. Really, the ocean just seems to be dissolving for me.’ (Carol Main) | The RSNO Winter Season opens on Thu 30 Sep at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and on Sun 3 Oct at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh. See Classical listings for full details.

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Belly dance: Distillery of Sound tour

band‘s first gigging trip south of the Highland line.

Gabe McVarish, formerly Junior US Scottish Fiddle Champion, talks of his move from San Francisco to the shores of Loch Morar. 'I'd once spent some time studying fiddle with Angus Grant [father of Shooglenifty's Angus] in Lochaber,’ he says, ‘so when my wife and I were heading to Ireland some years ago, we got off the plane at Glasgow, just to visit Glenfinnan for a weekend of music - and never got any further.‘

Around the same time, Dublin banjo maestro Colm O' Ruadh was heading to Mallaig en-route to a confirmed


Glas ow: Central Hotel, Fri 24 Oct. Edin urgh: The Hub, Sat 25 Oct.

The Glenfiddich Distillery of Sound tour hits the Central Belt this weekend, bringing dancey, trancey ceilidh grooves to venues in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Supporting Cuillin Music - Martin Bennett's well-known trio who play sequenced beats, samples and overlaid live fiddle and pipes - is new Highland-based band Daimh

(pronounced ’dive', meaning 'kinship' in Gaelic). In the context of contemporary roots/club crossover, Daimh’s wild, all-acoustic set is really radical.

Formed out of the musical meltdown that's been going on for years now round the Glenuig area of Moidart, they bring together some great players from the US, Ireland, Canada and Arisaig/Morar. You might have seen them on TV earlier this year, and audiences in Moscow have already witnessed them live, but this is the

fish-processing job in Iceland. He never made it either. The band finally came together when outstanding young Cape Breton piper Angus MacKenzie showed up on a visit, and got similarly stuck. Ross Martin’s individualistic guitar and James Bremmer's delicate but driving bodhran joined in, and Daimh’s distinctive, high-energy pan- celtic sound was born. McVarish feels happy that ’compared to lots of current bands playing this sort of music, we're not at all cerebral we just go for it!’ (Norman Chalmers)

preview MUSIC Personal stereo

This issue: John Hogarty, one-time BMX Bandit now fronting National Park.

Name an album that's an unrecognised classic.

The Real Kids LP. If you don't know them, their name alone should tell you that you’ve been missing something. Which artist or record first made you want to make music?

The Velvet Underground. They have all the qualities I still look for: simple, primitive, melodic, powerful. They made it seem so easy, yet still so many bands get it badly wrong.

What song makes you cry?

My tear ducts have been blocked since childhood, but if any record was likely to reverse a medical certainty then it would be 'Blood On The Tracks’ by Bob Dylan. I heard someone told him they had enjoyed this record and he replied, 'How could anyone enjoy that much pain?’

Who would be on your dream Top Of The Pops?

Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers either playing 'Hospital' or ’Girlfren'. At the age of nineteen, Jonathan Richman was writing ‘I go to bakeries all day long, there's a lack of sweetness in my life’... The band sounded really powerful then but there's no footage of them playing live. It’s strange to think that they actually played gigs and that people got to see them.

Name a gig that changed your life. The Pastels on the Renfrew Ferry supporting Teenage Fanclub. At that time I felt lost and caught up in all the foolishness that surrounds being in a band. It was so apparent that The Pastels had found their own way of working outside of all that. Sometimes music can be like a beacon or signal saying, 'This way, this way'.

What do you play when you're getting ready to go out?

Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid Soundtrack by Bob Dylan. It's the sound of someone about to fulfil their destiny, preparations being made. We play this before we play a gig; it leaves you ready to face anything.

What do you play as an aid to seduction?

Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid Soundtrack by Bob Dylan. It's the sound . . .

What do you sing in the shower? Mainly just lines from songs. At the moment it’s 'They’re taking it out on us!’ from a Belle And Sebastian song and ’Soil everywhere!’ from an Appendix Out song.

I National Park play at Salutel, Glasgow: 13th Note Club, Fri 24 Sep.

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