Edinburgh Festival '99 Classical: Oh what a lovely Fringe
Friday 03 September 1999
THE RANGE and variety of music offered by Edinburgh's Fringe is bewildering.
Trawling through this year's offerings, Graffiti, definitely in its last year at the amazing venue on Broughton Street, came up trumps again with an exotic selection of performers from around the world. "Prodigies" - two young ladies from Siberia and Ukraine - were astonishing technically, with vocal ranges far beyond their years, though the younger of the two, Pelageya, had an arch style that verged on the kitsch, and the musical accompaniments consisted of an electronically enhanced soup that smacked of the commercial "world music" industry.
More refreshing, because simpler and purer, was the marvellous Moussa Kouyate, maker and master-player of the west African kora lute-harp. His rippling, hypnotic instrumental and vocal pieces were a joy to listen to, inducing a glorious kind of laid-back euphoria.
Choral and organ music are pretty well represented in the festival, performed in Edinburgh's many magnificent churches.
None of these is more magnificent than St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, where the excellent choir of St Mary's kept up their taxing daily programme of choral services surveying the music of William Byrd, in addition to four concerts featuring Durufle's works. Slightly less inspiring was the "New Voices" series at the Canongate Kirk, if the concert by the Addison Singers was anything to go by; here some serious deficiencies in intonation, from the opening Guerrero Magnificat onwards, demonstrated that they were simply not up to the ambitious programme that they had chosen to present.
Youth groups are a great feature of the Fringe. Among the musicals on offer was that perennial favourite, Oh What a Lovely War, given by Newbury Youth Theatre - a non-auditioning group whose main requirement of its members is enthusiasm and commitment. And that's what they got in this energetic show, with a number of outstanding individual performances, but above all a tremendous sense of group effort. This turned out to be great, and thought-provoking, entertainment.
Sadly, The Hired Man is nothing like such a good piece, and all the 100- per-cent commitment of Leicestershire Youth Arts couldn't make it one. This marvellous organisation has been bringing shows to the fringe for 20 years now, consistently achieving the highest standards. Melvyn Bragg's story of working folk in north-east England is engaging enough, but Howard Goodall's semi-pop tinklings were simply inadequate to the subject matter. This production and performance, though, proved to be well up to YA's high standards, and the skill and professionalism of the performers were a pleasure to behold.
Last, but not least, the biggest youth element in the whole Fringe is the Festival of British Youth Orchestras - a magnificent showcase of the amazing young talent that this country continues to nurture despite endless music education cutbacks. On 30 August the West of Scotland Schools Symphony Orchestra under William Conway presented an ambitious programme featuring a recent piece, Unity and Conflict by Ronald Walker - much more enjoyable than its title might suggest - and a truly rousing rendition of Rimsky- Korsakov's Scheherazade. Those with any energy left at all are strongly recommended to sample this festival within a festival while there's still time.
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Huawei Mate S and Huawei Watch: new products take on iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch
- 2 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 3 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
- 4 Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches, it's time to act
- 5 Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
The real reason Eddie Redmayne was cast as a trans woman in The Danish Girl
JK Rowling announces Harry Potter's son is starting at Hogwarts
Idris Elba is ‘too street’ to play 007, says James Bond author
Photographer fights ginger discrimination with vivid portraits of redheads
Akram Khan: Choreographer says dance is 'as important as maths and being a doctor'
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up