l THE players of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra have not been the only culture amabassadors from Caledonia in China over the New Year.
The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra ends a nine-date tour of smaller provincial cities in the south and east of the country in Jiangxi today. The fiddlers, who are also travelling with pipers in support, began their tour in Ningbo on December 3)0 and returned for a second date there on Tuesday of this week. On Hogmanay they gave a concert in Hangzhou, which was followed by a ceilidh in their hotel attended by around 30 Chinese guests, including concert promoters. The tour has been supported by Creative Scotland with a grant of £10,000.
l A GRADUATE of the jazz course at Berklee College in Boston, harpist Maeve Gilchrist is bringing another facet of her music-making to Celtic Connections at the end of the month. Her appearance at the festival is not with her trio, as the programme brochure suggests, but with American step dancer Nic Gareiss. Their gig at the National Piping Centre on January 27 is alongside another duo of Rachel Newton, a founding member of all-female Trad Awards nominees The Shee, and Kris Drever of Lau. Two days later Gilchrist and Gareiss play one of Douglas Robertson's house concerts in Edinburgh in the company of Mary Macmaster and Donald Hay.
l THE excellent exhibition of the rock photography of Harry Papadopoulos, What Presence!, first seen at Glasgow's Street Level Gallery last year and then shown at Creative Scotland's headquarters in Edinburgh, is coming back west, running at Platform, Easterhouse, from January 16 to February 13. Papadouplos worked for weekly music paper Sounds between 1979 and 1984 and his portfolio includes memorable images of Clare Grogan, Bily Mackenzie and Orange Juice, whose 1984 single lends the show its title. Ken McCluskey of The Bluebells, co-curator of the exhibition, will give a talk on the pictures and the era on Tuesday February 5 at 2pm.
l SHETLAND fiddler Jenna Reid has announced the first Fiddle Day to be held in her honour. Due to take place at the new Carrick Centre in Maybole, Ayrshire, on Saturday August 31, the day offers afternoon classes in intermediate and advanced fiddling taught by ear by Reid herself. An evening concert by Reid accompanied by guitarist Kevin Mackenzie will follow. Reid, who reprises her Shetland Bus suite at Celtic Connections on January 19, is one of the leading fiddlers and fiddle teachers on the international circuit and demand for places in the tuition classes is sure to be strong.
l The Fife Jazz Festival, which runs over the opening weekend of February, has unveiled a characteristically eclectic programme. It includes two gigs by Mud Morganfield, pictured, eldest son of Muddy Waters, in Dunfermline and St Andrews and Sweden's Norrbotten Big Band playing the music of Charles Mingus in the same two towns. Clarinettist and saxophonist John Burgess plays with the Nova Scotia Jazz Band in St Michaels and alongside pianist Brian Kellock in his own Select Six in Anstruther. Dutch violinist Tim Kliphuis plays the music of Stephane Grappelli in the company of guitarist Nigel Clark in Auchtermuchty and Graeme Stephen launches the event with his score of F W Murnau's classic silent movie Nosferatu at the Byre Theatre in St Andrews on Friday, February 1.