We had a wee holiday at the start of this week just outside Pitlochry in a caravan overlooking Loch Tummel. There is no more beautiful place in my mind ( I've been going to the same place for 35 years so I might be biased). When we were there we saw posters for the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band Highland Evening which was on the Monday night. 'The Vale' are one of Scotland's best and most innovative pipe bands and this looked like an opportunity not to be missed.
Unfortunately when we got there – slightly late, the pipe band had already played their first number and it was the turn of a 'Scottish' singer, a highland dance troup, Royal Scottish Country Dance group, another Scottish singer then the Youth Pipe Band. Apart from the pipe band it was all pretty dreadful, dated and we left at half time. All the acts looked slugish and from another era.
There were visitors from all over the world at the concert and this was the picture of Scotland we were giving. Surely we can do better than this. It can't be hard to round up a few energetic great local musicians and feature a more modern sound and look. Vale of Atholl are famous for their experimental arrangements and this should show through in these concerts. One problem is that (I think) the audiences would enjoy whatever 'Scottish' show is put on as they don't know any better as long as it has tartan in it. A more progressive concert takes more organisation but surely worth if we are to showcase today's Scotland.
I have to aks the question – what is the point of Highland Dancing? When you compare it to the Irish hard shoe (Riverdance) style it's a wet blanket. I'll take stepdance any day. We Scots seem to keep pushing it but what's the point?
Moving on we have Maeve MacKinnon's CD launch on Monday night (25th June) at the Universal, Glasgow – 8pm. I sent out some press releases and was very happy to hear back from the Evening Times, the perfect paper to advertise the launch. The band are playing for 20 minutes and anyone is welcome to come along.
I've finally got back on track with my Garvie Bagpipe Concerto. I took the computer to the caravan and put some time in. I also heard today that the Scottish Arts Council have given me money to write it which is great but adds to the pressure. I'm going to need to do at least 2 hours aday to finish it…
I attended Scottish Opera's Lucia Di Lammermoor by Donizetti tonight. It's based on Walter Scott’s The Bride of Lammermoor which is based on a true incident that took place in the Scottish Lowlands in 1669, concerning a feud between two families, the Ashtons and the Ravenswoods. The opera is often acclaimed as Donizetti’s finest work and is widely considered to be one of the most exhilarating operas of the 19th century. (sorry, I lifted this from SO's website!). I wanted to go and see it as I heard a great interview on Radio Scotland with the director John Doyle – quite an amazing guy. I still don't really get it though. Lots of very good performances although I can't make out what the basses are singing – tunes or lyrics and at times the orchestra drowned out the leads.
Scottish Opera are a strange concept for me. They are one of Scotland's 'national' companies but tonight they were singing in Italian and their other shows have no Scottish links whatsoever. Why do we need a national opera company? There's nothing Scottish about Opera. I'm not saying they should be dumped but it's not a national thing and should be funded accordingly.
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