ECAT: MUSIC©EDINBURGH Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh, Wed 20 & Fri 22 Feb; Reid Concert Hall, Edinburgh, Thu 21 Feb
Emperor String Quartet avoid typecasting
Over the years, Edinburgh University has seen a wealth of initially somewhat raw talent develop into an impressive roster of distinguished composers. Among the teachers have been Hans Gal, Kenneth Leighton and the present Reid Professor, Nigel Osborne, not to mention General Reid himself back in the mid-17005. In the student lists are Thea Musgrave, the senior international figure among Edinburgh graduates, James MacMillan, Alasdair Nicholson and Rebecca Saunders. Celebrating the remarkable achievements of the Faculty of Music is a new festival - music@Edinburgh - presented
under the auspices of ECAT.
‘lt’s a measure of what’s going on at Edinburgh University that we can make a festival of it,’ says ECAT Administrator, Hazel Sheppard. ‘There’s a huge commitment to contemporary music.‘ Orchestral, choral and chamber music by graduates and present students make up the programme. The Dunedin Consort concentrate on James MacMillan’s choral music, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra bring a world premiere by Malcolm Hayes and the Emperor String Quartet play a diverse selection of work by the current crop of post-graduate composition students.
Their cellist, William Schofield, is also a past student of the university. ‘The pieces we’re doing are all extraordinarily different in style.’ he says. ‘One has a sort of 603 feel, another is more space-age: it’s a real mix of traditional and experimental.’ lnternationalism is a strong feature of the post-grad class of 2002. Canada, China, Argentina and Scotland are all home territories, the contrasting backgrounds casting their reflections on the creative processes. ‘The thing about being at university,’ says Schofield, ‘is that you get a huge variety of people. There’s a whole range of influences and
No strangers to ECAT, Schofield is fulsome in his praise for their initiative in putting on the festival. ‘They are amazing in the way they support performers such as ourselves. Although they’re giving us opportunities, it always feels like a collaboration and we really like doing things like this from time to time.’ Although the Emperor, ten years old this year, has been extremely successful in its performances and recordings of contemporary music - most notably the quartets of James MacMillan shortly to be released on Bis - its repertoire base is intentionally broad. ‘We don’t want to be typecast’ says Schofield, ‘and keeping a balance is the joy of it. We’re really positive about playing together and even after ten years, we still like each other and all get on.’ (Carol Main)
NEW SOLO JAZZ PIANO
CCA, Glasgow, Sat 16 Feb
The Dutch jazz scene has played a leading role in the development of European improvised music for several decades now. One of the musicians who spearheaded that development. pianist Misha Mengelberg. heads this triple bill of solo pianists. with fellow Dutch visitor Guus Janssen and our own Brian Kellock completing the line- up.
Mengelberg is an infrequent visitor to these parts. and this is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to sample his idiOSyncratic creative talent. He has long been a prime mover on the Dutch scene. and was co-founder of the ICP (Instant Composers Pool) With Han Bennick and Willem Breuker in 1968.
That flexible group became a crucial focal pOint for the Dutch avant-garde. A thriving national scene grew up in Holland (exhaustively documented in KeVih Whitehead's book New
46 THE LIST li‘. 28 I (:l, 2th?
Dutch Swing). augmented by a through-flow of American and European visitors. who found a welcome for their music in venues like the BlM-haus in Amsterdam. and no shortage of like-minded mUSicians.
Mengelberg has strong roots in more conventional jazz styles as well. and recalls the teenage epiphany of hearing the EllingtOn Orchestra in 1949. For him. though. the kind of spontaneOuS improvisation on which he thrives is largely a matter of retaining an innate joy in natural creation.
'lmprowsation is not something which can be taught. but every child can improwse. Music is simply something which children feel they have at their disposal. In order to improwse. adults must lose all the hang-ups and inhibitions they have picked up.‘
Guus Janssen belongs to a later generation of Dutch players. and was first heard in Scotland as part of the Clusone Quartet. which later became the Clusone Trio. He has emerged as a significant band leader and composer in a
Guus Janssen: key player
variety of settings. and Will also be heard at Henry's Jazz Cellar in Edinburgh in a trio (see jazz listings for detailsl.
Brian Kellock hardly needs any introduction, but the Edinburgh- based piano maestro Will use this concert to launch a specially commissioned project in which he plays the music of Ornette Coleman and Charlie Haden. (Kenny Mathiesonl
ROCK POP RICHARD HAWLEY King Tut’s, Glasgow, Sun 24 Feb.
Watching a band expire is rarely an edifying experience. The Longpigs split in 99. amongst allegations that drummer Lee Doyle had glassed singer Crispin Hunt at lot all thingSi a Pretenders gig. Guitarist Richard Hawley doesn't seem to bear any grudges. though. 'At the end it was a bit handbags at dawn.‘ he says with some understatement. 'But I wasn't a part of that. YOu should take what you do seriously, but you should simmer down if things get really bad.‘
Then again. Hawley has enough going on to keep him OCCUplOd. In recent years he has recorded and played live with Pulp. added his axe skills to All Saints heretical cover of Under the Bridge' and written songs With l. Monster. He's also recorded his solo debut. The moodin magnificent Late Night Final was released at the end of 2001 to critical acclaim. and Current Single 'Baby YOu're My Light' has been Single of the Week in the NME and .Jo Whiley's record of the week on Radio 1.
It seems to have a fair bit in common With the current wave of white man's blues coming out of the US. 'I guess some influences have come out.‘ agrees Hawley. particularly because now is the first time l’ve sat down and sang to myself. My parents were musicians and they listened to a lot of stuff like the Everly Brothers and bluegrass and so on. I like the Lift To Experience stuff — I guess we are both deing the whole sub-COuntry thing. But Ryan Adams . . . I really don't like that guy."
The 34-year-old is an amiable and rather amusing IIIIOWICWOC. hardly what you'd expect given that his album is the kind of stripped-dowii, elegiac work that evokes dark. troubled sessions ihvolvnig torturous self-analysis. a few broken hearts and several gallons of whisky. He is similarly earthy about his live ambitions. ‘l've written these songs and I'm interested to see if people like them,‘ he says. 'But I don't have a massive ego. I'm not going to be standing on stage With a sparieg top on and one foot on the monitor. posing. None of that shit.' i.James Smartl