In case any of your auld acquaintances have forgot, today is Robert Burns Day, the 228th anniversary of the birth of the beloved Scottish poet.
Which brings to mind Southern California composer/arranger Serge Hovey, who assembled "The Robert Burns Songbook," the complete collection of the poet's 323 song lyrics, in 1973. In the past decade, despite Hovey's contraction of a crippling and debilitating condition (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's Disease), his major project--clearly, a labor of love--has been the recording of the songbook. Five volumes have so far been made available to posterity.
Volume VI, on the Sounder label (formerly Philo), will be released next month. And according to folk singer Jean Redpath, one of the performing artists on these six albums, two separate films dealing with Hovey's work will be released in Scotland this week.
The first film, "The Tree of Liberty," is "a documentary showing the weird and wonderful thing that is Serge's involvement with Burns' lyrics," Redpath said from New York last week. "The conductor is (the American) John Mauceri, director-designate of Scottish Opera." The other film is a half-hour program of six of Hovey's song-arrangements, sung by Redpath.
On this side of the Atlantic, Hovey's craftsmanship as song-arranger will be redisplayed Feb. 14 when Redpath makes one of her regular appearances on public radio's "A Prairie Home Companion." Redpath, on tour in the United States all month, appears Feb. 21 with the Los Angeles Master Chorale in the Pavilion of the Music Center.
What will she do in company with chorale director John Currie (another Scot, not coincidentally)?
"Well, basically, I'll sing several unaccompanied sets of songs, without the chorale, which will be performing other Scottish songs (as arranged by Currie). I talk a lot, and give spoken program notes. That's only fair, since all these songs are basically foreign-language material." How does a touring singer keep her vocal health? we asked Redpath.
"Well," she replied laconically, "with the constitution of an ox and by the grace of God."
SAN JOSE SAVED?: The symphonic picture may look grim in San Diego these days, but up north, the news appears to be good. A rush of donations over the holidays has given a needed boost to the San Jose Symphony and possibly saved it from the immediate threat of bankruptcy.
The Board of Directors of the financially ailing orchestra will probably decide during the next five weeks whether the current concert season will be preserved, according to Executive Director Michael Allerton.
The symphony has raised more than $1 million in donations and pledges since the start of its current fund-raising drive in September. Of that, $500,000 came from computer executive David Packard of Hewlett-Packard.
PIANISTS: On the 100th anniversary of the birth of Artur Rubinstein Wednesday, Jeffrey Kahane, the young American pianist who took first prize in the international Rubinstein competition in 1983, will appear in recital at Leo Baeck Temple, 1300 N. Sepulveda Blvd., in Westwood. Sponsored by the American Friends of the Rubin Academy of Music and Dance at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, this event will benefit scholarships, instruments and equipment at the academy. Kahane's program: the Partita No. 5 by J. S. Bach, Ravel's "Tombeau de Couperin" and Brahms' Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Opus 24. Information: (213) 393-5125. . . . Peter Serkin returns to the Pavilion of the Music Center Tuesday night at 8 to play Beethoven's massive "Diabelli" Variations on a program also offering shorter works by Bach, Wolpe, Takemitsu and Messiaen. . . . Igo Pogorelich, the 28-year-old Yugoslav pianist, returns to Ambassador Auditorium for two recitals this weekend. Saturday night at 8:30 and next Sunday night at 8, he will give the same program: three sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti, Beethoven's Sonata in B-flat, Opus 22, two "Poemes" of Scriabin and, by Chopin, the Prelude in C-sharp minor, Opus 45, and the B-minor Sonata.
AND OTHER PEOPLE: Andre Previn and Lukas Foss, music directors of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Brooklyn Philharmonic, respectively, will be co-artistic directors of the 1987 Philharmonic Institute, June 28-Aug. 16. The summer training program for young orchestral players and conductors will be center its sixth season in the facilities of the music department at UCLA in Westwood. . . . Roger Wagner, founder in 1964 of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, returns to the podium of that organization Saturday night at 8 in the Pavilion of the Music Center to conduct a concert of opera choruses by Verdi, Puccini and Wagner. . . . Simon Rattle, principal guest conductor of the L.A. Philharmonic, was named a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) on the Queen's recent New Year Honors List. . . . American baritone Sherrill Milnes returns in recital to Royce Hall, UCLA, Saturday night at 8.