Musical cocktail

25th April 1997 at 01:00
It may come at the wrong time of the year for many senior pupils, but Glasgow's annual cultural jamboree continues to flourish

The music at Mayfest this year is as quirky as ever: budgetary restraints and a "something for everyone" programming policy have combined to throw together a cocktail of rock, folk, jazz, classical and community music. It is an umbrella of events, many of which were happening anyway and are far from exclusive to Mayfest.

This raises the question of why director Paul Bassett goes for a packed month at the expense of exclusivity. Festivals by definition need to be able to offer something special and extraordinary: that is the point. If most of the programme is offered year-round by all too familiar faces (Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Edinburgh Quartet, Czardas, Glasgow Philharmonic et al), you run the risk of diluting that sense of event, lose the "fest" and end up with - simply - May.

Still, the sense of occasion, however illusory, presumably does give a welcome injection of publicity to many events, and there is one production which you can see nowhere else in Britain this year: Peter Maxwell Davies's opera Resurrection gets its first staged performances in a production imported from Vienna.

This is an extraordinary and contemporary piece dealing with issues of power, the insidious evil of advertising, the deadening effect of much of modern life. It has been called as much a musical as an opera (whatever that means) on account of its blend of pop, advertising jingles, Bach chorales and brass bands. If you are planning to take 16 to 18-year-old pupils to just one event this year, choose this. Davies elaborates on his themes in a pre-concert talk at the Theatre Royal on May 14.

Participatory events at Mayfest include - at one extreme - a four-week long course in African drumming offered by members of the group Oruland at the Kinning Park Complex; at the other, Ben Parry and Alan Tavener of Capella Nova hold a plainchant workshop at Strathclyde University on May 17.

Other events that stand out for offering something different include the Edinburgh Quartet and piper Rab Wallace performing Eddie Maguire's imaginatively entitled "Music for Lowland Pipes and String Quartet" on May 23 at Adelaides, and the Whistlebinkies pairing up with A L Kennedy and Donny O'Rourke for a night of fine music and literature at the Cottier Theatre on May 8.

Svend Brown

Further details in the free Mayfest programme booklet: to get a copy ring 0141 552 8444

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