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21 janvier 2006

World Cup gala head demands FIFA apology

The man who was to direct the multi-million World Cup gala, which was cancelled in acrimonious circumstances, demanded an apology from football world governing body FIFA on Saturday.

Andre Heller, the Austrian who was to direct the 90-minute show in Berlin's Olympic Stadium on June 7, two days before the start of the World Cup, said the decisio to call off the extravaganza had caused a public outcry.

"It is necessary to be noble vis-a-vis the artists who were to take part in the gala and FIFA should send them a letter," Heller told NDR radio. "I can't be the only one to do it and say sorry to those poor people for something for which I was not responsible."

FIFA said Friday they had cancelled the event, which was to feature a host of stars as well as 7,000 volunteers, because they were concerned about the effects on the pitch. But Saturday's Berliner Zeitung said the reason was purely financial. It claimed that FIFA had allocated a 25-million euro budget which had been exceeded. Others believe that FIFA and Heller had fallen out.

The gala was to feature music by Peter Gabriel and choreography by France's Philippe Découflé, who was responsible for the opening ceremony of the 1992 winter Olympics in Albertville. A total of 132 former World Cup stars were also to have been involved including Argentina's hero Diego Maradona and Brazil's three-time victor Pele.

Slow ticket sales, which were priced at between 100-750 euros, were also blamed for the cancellation of the event. Friday's developments came just three days after serious question marks were raised over stadium security. "I can understand a little why the gala was cancelled," added Heller on Saturday. "But I don't understand why the decision was taken now."

20 janvier 2006

Savourna Stevenson

Well connected from the Middle East to Sex and the City

Savourna Stevenson boldly takes the clarsach where no clarsach has gone before. In her hands, the Celtic harp has voyaged into the territory of bluegrass banjos, sitar-style cascades, Indian ragas and African beats.

A concert at Celtic Connections will preview tracks from her forthcoming album, her ninth, which has a distinctly Middle Eastern flavour. But this is only one aspect of her work. "Scotland's most adventurously accomplished clarsach player", as she has been called, has many other strings to her harp, from writing orchestral work, to having her music featured on Sex and the City. (...)

(...) She was reminded of the musical potential of The Prophet in 2002 when she was asked to play at Peter Gabriel's wedding "on a beach in Sardinia", at which Gibran's passage on marriage was one of the readings. She has now set that, along with two other passages, to music. Gibran's On Joy and Sorrow has been translated into Gaelic by her brother-in-law, the poet Aonghas MacNeacail, and will be sung by Alyth McCormack (...)
Savourna is known as one of the leading figures in the renaissance of the Celtic harp in Scotland over the last 20 years, inspiring audiences and musicians alike with her fresh approach to traditional music. In her music she identifies strongly with her Scottish musical roots while breaking through stylistic barriers between classic, folk, world music and jazz.

An outstanding virtuoso and composer, she has pushed the boundaries of the harp almost beyond imaginable belief with thrilling results. Her free spirited creative approach to music has won her the admiration of many acclaimed colleagues and has resulted in several fruitful collaborations with distinguished musicians including the legendary bassist Danny Thompson, singer Eddi Reader and June Tabor, Aly Bain, Fairport Convention and Davy Spillane from the traditional world and more recently with Internationally renowned world music artists including The Bhundu Boys, Toumani Diabate and many more at Peter Gabriel’s Real World recording studios and internationally renowned World of Music Art and Dance festivals.

Savourna’s prolific output as a composer shows great versatility and a keenness for cross art collaboration, writing for theatre, for film, TV and dance and eight CD recordings.