fiddler Aly Bain has mixed memories of the premiere this year of Clyde to California, a composition marking the centenary of the death of Scottish writer, Robert Louis Stevenson. 'It was an open-air venue at the beginning of May. We were hoping it would be a beautiful summer evening but it turned out to be the coldest May night in living memory. I could hardly move my fingers to play, and the poor audience had to sit there in their winter thermals.'

However, the show had a warm reception despite the cold, and tonight Bain, along with the piece's composer, Savourna Stevenson (right), gives London a chance to hear the 20-minute work as part of the South Bank Centre's Folk Week.

The inspiration for Clyde to California came from a journey made by Robert Louis Stevenson from Scotland to the west coast of America, and incorporates musical styles - such as native American and Mexican - taken from places he passed through on the way. Much of the piece's texture comes from the contrasting sounds of fiddle and harp, both of which have strong mythical associations with the satanic and the angelic - the theme of Stevenson's classic novel, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

The complexity of the music made heavy demands on Bain. 'Savourna is the most progressive harp-player in Scotland. She's also happy to experiment, which is the only way that innovative music is produced. Having said that, I would have murdered her if I'd known how long it was going to take me to learn the thing. She writes for the harp, and I had to rework some of it so that it was playable on the fiddle.'

Clyde to California forms only part of a hugely varied evening of entertainment. 'We'll be throwing in some Scottish stuff as well,' says Bain. 'Who knows? We might even toss in a couple of Irish tunes for luck. . .'

Meanwhile, the rest of the week gives an opportunity to hear more of the finest folk players on the circuit. Tomorrow night sees earthy country blues from Steve Phillips and Brendan Croker. On Thursday, Belfast's acclaimed Craobh Rua takes to the stage, and the week concludes on Friday with Zimbabwe's Sunduza.

Bank Folk Week, 7.30pm, to Fri, Purcell Room, South Bank Centre, SE1 (071-928 8800) pounds 7.50

(Photograph omitted)

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