Culture vulture

18th February 2005 at 00:00
The vocal harmonies of Peter, Paul and Mary delight Andrew Scott

Best book ever

I don't believe anyone has written better about music and music-making than Richard Powers in The Time of Our Singing, which follows a family through the 20th century. The father is Jewish, the mother black, and it represents an unflinching account of experiences of racism and different responses to it. It has great humanity and marvellous language, describing things about family, creativity and music that are notoriously hard for a writer to capture.

Best film

I love those gentle off-the-wall French comedies about dotty people and their foibles that art-house cinemas used to re-run every few months. The best of the lot is Trafic (1971), Jacques Tati's hymn to the motor car and the strange people who drive it.

Best music

My own arrangements owe most to the tight vocal harmonies of the sometimes-maligned Peter, Paul and Mary, pictured. They are immensely skilled harmonisers and their music is adaptable to unaccompanied vocal arrangement. If I had to limit, I'd choose Haydn's 104 symphonies played by Northern Sinfonia, especially No 88, where the trumpets and timpani enter after 40 bars of slow movement on a terrifying dissonance, and No 77, my favourite.

Favourite resource

The Sage Gateshead's own Jazz Building Blocks, a book and CD offering ways into classroom improvisation. Good training in risk-taking and successfully used by primary, secondary and special schools.

Music for children

The Old Rope String Band for weird and wonderful music entertainment. Their school visits provide unforgettable comic moments: a kilted accordionist playing upside down under water, or a pizzicato fiddle tennis match. You almost forget to notice they are also playing marvellous music.

Looking forward to

The Sage's first jazz festival (March 18-20) and the launch of our school resource, JazzDaze.

Andrew Scott, 52, is director of learning and participation at The Sage, Gateshead, the centre for jazz, folk, classical, learning and development on the banks of the Tyne, and home of the Northern Sinfonia (www.thesage gateshead.org). Before that he was head of music at Whitley Bay high school. He was talking to Elaine Williams

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