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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...


Musical marathon aims to safeguard future of Caird Hall organ

February 19 2011

At the end of the month there will be a special event in the Caird Hall to raise much-needed funds for its concert organ, regarded as one of the finest in Scotland. Jennifer Cosgrove finds out more. Since it was installed in 1923, the Caird Hall organ has attracted some of the world's best players to Dundee to sample its character and unique sound. In a bid to preserve the instrument and also to raise its profile through performances and educational activities The Friends of the Caird Hall Organ (FOCHO) launched officially in March of last year and the group now has over 160 members. So far, there has been a recital by American concert organist Carlo Curley and, more recently, a silent movie night, during which Nigel Ogden of BBC Radio 2 played an accompaniment to the 1925 film The Phantom of the Opera. The next big event on the FOCHO calendar will be an 'Organathon' on Saturday, February 26, during which players will be sponsored by friends and family to perform 20-minute slots between the hours of 10am and 4pm. FOCHO chair Jim McKellican, who has played the organ for almost 60 years, said, "The idea was just to let a lot of people play the organ. There's no set piece they have to do and it is open to all experience levels and grades. "Each slot lasts for 20 minutes and there will virtually be non-stop music. At 73, I am the oldest player and Elisabeth Flett daughter of Dundee City Archivist Iain Flett is the youngest, aged 15. It is relatively easy to play for 20 minutes. I have been practising!" Among those players signed up for the event are city organist Stuart Muir, St Andrews University organist Tim Wilkinson and Glenalmond College pupil Tiffany Vong, who has been awarded an organ scholarship to Oriel College, Oxford. There will also be a duet by Peter Thornton and Pauline Robertson, a performance by Kevin Veal with local trumpeter Bill Boyle and FOCHO honorary president Gordon Stewart will end the event with a double slot. The event is not ticketed and admission throughout the day is free for those who have sponsored someone. Others who wish to attend can do so by making a donation at the door. In order to widen the scope of the event, and provide a little background information for visitors, FOCHO has also decided to delve into the history of the organ, which was designed by Dr Alfred Hollins (1865-1942), the famous blind organist of St George's Church, Edinburgh. "What we decided to do was get organisations such as Guide Dogs for the Blind and the Dundee Blind and Partially Sighted Society involved, so there will be stalls and information," Jim added.The Friends of the Caird Hall Organathon takes place at the Caird Hall on Saturday, February 26, between 10am and 4pm. For more information visit www.cairdhall.co.uk/focho


Friends helping to preserve future of famous Caird Hall organ

January 20 2012

Important work is taking place to safeguard the internal workings of the Caird Hall organ, one of Dundee's most prized cultural assets and acclaimed by experts as the finest concert organ in Scotland. The humidifier is being replaced at a cost of £10,000 in the first major project undertaken by the Friends of the Caird Hall Organ. The air temperature and humidity within the organ chamber is of vital importance to the instrument's condition and performance. Dr Jim McKellican, chairman of the Friends, said the organ contains wood and leather, and it is important they do not dry out. ''The humidifier makes sure the air put through the pipes within the organ is at a certain percentage of humidity or you can damage the wood and dry it out,'' he said. ''Some of the organ pipes are made of wood as well as of metal, and there is also leather which needs a certain air humidity, so that is why the humidifier is so important to the organ. ''We were having problems with the old humidifiers which had been in place for a considerable time, and their suppliers, Watkins and Watson from Poole in Dorset, advised that we should replace two of them with a larger one. This is happening and it is important work to safeguard the internal operation of the organ and to keep the instrument in the best condition.'' The organ, containing 50 speaking stops, was designed by the famous blind organist Alfred Hollins of Edinburgh and was built by Harrison and Harrison of Durham in 1922, with the installation the next year. It was the Harrisons' first concert organ and was constructed to match the grand scale of the venue. The exhaust pneumatic action has been restored and the original adjustable pistons now have an electronic memory. The long-term care of the organ is one of the main objectives of the Friends of the Caird Hall Organ and Dr McKellican is pleased that they are able to assist the city council and operating body Leisure and Culture Dundee at such an early stage in the set-up of the charity. The Caird Hall organ has attracted some of the world's best players to Dundee to savour its character and unique sound. Recently there was a recital by American concert organist Carlo Curley and a silent movie night during which Nigel Ogden of BBC Radio 2 played an accompaniment to the 1925 film Phantom of the Opera. The support from the Friends and the public to events staged by the Friends has made the humidifier replacement possible.


Caird Hall show teaches youngsters about ‘the finest concert organ in Scotland’

February 11 2016

Six-hundred schoolchildren from Dundee and the surrounding area have been learning about the city’s famous Caird Hall organ. They were given an insight into the instrument by international concert organist Daniel Moult. Using light and smoke shows to tell the story of the organ’s history, Mr Moult created a visual spectacular for the youngsters. With the help of volunteers from the audience and a big screen projection, the organist also showed the children how the organ works and how the player combines the different sounds to make music. The organ was designed by blind player Alfred Hollins. The instrument has previously been hailed by eminent recitalists as “the finest concert organ in Scotland”.


Review: Carlo Curley at the Caird Hall

June 3 2010

A queue at the Caird Hall box office, a delayed start and an audience of over 500? For an organ recital? Well, this wasn't any old organ recital it was by the one and only Carlo Curley, organist extraordinaire, showman and charismatic champion of the pipe organ. The Friends Of The Caird Hall Organ's decision to employ him on Tuesday night for their first major recital was an inspired one. No-one else has got nearly the same pulling power. Curley is one of the few with a very close personal association with the organ. He was one of the leading campaigners for its restoration and gave the last recital of the old and the first of the new after its renovation in 1991. And so it wasn't all about the music, but about Curley's interpretation of it and the contrasts that ensued. A perfect illustration of this was his superb arrangement of Wagner's Liebestod, which was quite beautiful, and at the other end of the spectrum his Scott Joplin Entertainer encore a fitting signature tune for Curley the crowd-pleaser. He took special care in emphasising the vast range of sound the instrument can deliver, and his parting comment to the Caird Hall audience was, "You are blessed with one of the most sensational organs on the planet!" Quite a tribute from a man who has played the very best of them.


Inspirational blind organist who captivated audiences across the world celebrated at Caird Hall

September 17 2015

An exhibition to remember an inspirational organ player who designed Dundee’s Caird Hall organ has opened in the city. The event celebrates the life and times of blind organ player and designer Alfred Hollins. Hollins was blind from birth but still managed to become one of the most reputable organ players and designers in the world. His endeavours took him round the world where he was able to share his talents. The programme, which marks 150 years since his birth, reflects on Hollins’ life and was coordinated by former chairman of the Friends of the Caird Hall Organ, Dr Jim McKellican. Dr McKellican believes Hollins’ tale is one that should be shared, and he hopes the public will be interested in finding out more about a man he calls “a celebrity of his time”. He said: “Hollins was blind from just after birth. Towards the end of the 19th Century he went on not only to tour as a recitalist, but also to design organs. “It was quite a feat. Hollins was certainly a celebrity. He toured New Zealand, Europe and even America three times. “When Dundee decided to build the Caird Hall, Hollins was recommended to be the consultant for the hall’s concert organ. “He was very well known in this area and we like to keep his name active. I think Hollins would be right up there with today’s music scene in Dundee. “His music was quite frisky and lively. It is also quite difficult to play. Hopefully the public will be interested in finding out more about Hollins and we hope to add to this exhibition in the near future with some more information about his life.” Access to view the Hollins Exhibition can be made by appointment by contacting Angela Doran on 01382 434111 or by emailing angela.doran@leisureandculturedundee.com.


Tayside projects shortlisted for Arts and Business Scotland annual awards

December 2 2016

A number of organisations with links to Tayside have been nominated for awards celebrating collaboration between businesses and arts initiatives. Arts and Business Scotland has this week announced the shortlist for its 30th annual awards, which includes the Dundee Royal Arch project and DC Thomson for their support of UNESCO City of Design's Dundee Design Festival. BAM Construction is nominated for its support of creative producer Claire Dow and the Dundee Institute of Architects' People's Tower. Elsewhere, Perth Museum and Art Gallery is nominated for its collaboration with Player: Videogame Interaction from Atari to Toys to Life and the Black Watch Castle and Museum for its support of Poppies: Weeping Window by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper. Friends of the Caird Hall Organ’s James McKellican has also been nominated in the fundraising category. A&BS chief executive David Watt said: “This year’s shortlist is a fantastic reflection of the innovation and creativity which exists between the cultural and business sectors, contributing to a thriving and vibrant cultural offering here in Scotland. “Throughout the judging process what was abundantly clear was the value that cultural organisations bring to both rural and urban communities though their social and economic impacts. “It is hugely encouraging therefore to see such a diverse range of businesses demonstrating a willingness to support this activity in Scotland.” A&BS says this year’s shortlist is one of the most diverse in recent years with a strong emphasis on cultural organisations delivering projects that enable social and economic benefits for rural and urban communities. The awards party will take place at Glasgow Royal Concert Halls on March 23 and will include an address from the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop.


Legendary organist Carlo Curley returns to Dundee

May 31 2010

Organist extraordinaire Carlo Curley is returning to Dundee to give a recital in the Caird Hall, whose legendary instrument he helped to save in the early 1990s. Helen Brown spoke to him about his musical memories of the city and how much he is looking forward to revisiting what he calls "a king of instruments." Larger than life and with a passion for what he does, Carlo Curley is a real force of nature. His enthusiasm and knowledge of his subject are infectious and even if the last thing you ever wanted to do was listen to an organ recital, he is the man to change your mind and turn you into a fan. Carlo, of course, has a special place in the hearts of Dundonian music lovers and fans of the city's heritage as the public face of the campaign, nearly 20 years ago, to save, refurbish and restore to its rightful place the wonderful instrument at the heart of the Caird Hall. His programme for Tuesday evening in Dundee is eclectic, from an opening transcription of a Viennese song through Bach, Isolde's Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde to Carlo's own arrangement of John Philip Sousa's famous march, The Liberty Bell. Carlo said, "The Caird Hall organ is blessed with a hair-raising tuba stop which will really end the first half with a flourish! Then there's Mozart and a Toccata on the theme, America, from Bernstein's West Side Story. That's by a contemporary Swedish composer and always causes a great stir every time I play it." Rather like Mr Curley himself, whose engaging personality and humorous delivery bring a new dimension to an instrument too often regarded as monumental and sombre. He said, "This is a concert organ and a great one. There's as much repertoire for it as there is for piano and symphony orchestra and as varied. "I am looking forward to it. I haven't been for a wee while and I'm chuffed to ribbons to have been asked back." He recalls his role in the story of the Caird Hall organ with just as much fondness. Carlo said, "I have many warm memories even though the early 90s, looking back from now to then, looks like another chapter in life. "And the Caird Hall itself, of course, is such a wonderful hall with an amazing seating capacity and atmosphere." He added, "The Barbican hall in London has a wonderful acoustic for orchestras which I enjoy but no organ. The Caird Hall organ would sound like the Second Coming in Panavision there, absolutely gorgeous!" Also in the 90s, Carlo was instrumental in helping Melbourne City Council to preserve and enhance their major Town Hall pipe organ which is one of the largest in the southern hemisphere. Carlo said, "They asked me, 'Is it worth saving?' and I said to the mayor, 'If you get rid of this, you should leave office in shame'!" Carlo currently gives over 100 concerts and recitals each year from the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles to major venues in Japan, where he is exceptionally popular. Classic FM recently gave a live broadcast of his concert from Westminster Abbey. He was the first classical organist to give a solo recital at the White House and his recordings and DVDs are much in demand. But it is his live performances that are regarded as something special and that make him a leading exponent worldwide of organ music in all its forms. Carlo said, "There is nothing quite like the feel and sound of playing good music on a really top-class instrument. "Ivory keys and stops on old organs (not used nowadays, of course) have a tactile quality that plastic or bone substitute just cannot match." Open and affable, Carlo is always happy to talk to people about his music and about himself, adding, "People do ask me if it's my real name. I just say I'm Pavarotti's brother, the Pavarotti of the organ!" It certainly chimes with the view of a charismatic figure at the top of his profession, not only musically talented but also with an ability to communicate his love of that music and the instrument that creates it. It's been his mission in life and one that he says will see him out. "I'll be doing this till I fall over. And I'll love every minute of it!" With Carlo Curley at the helm, chances are his audiences will, too. Carlo Curley is at the Caird Hall on Tuesday, June 1, at 7.30pm. Tickets are £10, £8 for Friends of the Caird Hall Organ and £3 students standby. For details call Dundee City Centre Box Office on 01382 434940.


Caird Hall to host silent film night featuring famous organist

October 28 2016

The Caird Hall is set to host a night of silent films featuring international concert organist Donald MacKenzie. The night will feature the 1911 film, Dundee Courier - "The Production of a Great Daily Newspaper" and the timeless Harold Lloyd comedy from 1923, Safety Last. Ayrshire-born MacKenzie, organist at the Odeon, Leicester Square, will play improvised music using the Caird Hall Organ alongside the films, which will screen on November 4 at 7.30pm. The film about The Courier coincides with the paper's 200 year anniversary which was celebrated on September 21 this year. It will showcase the entire process of the production of the newspaper, from the work of reporters and editors all the way through to distribution and sale. Footage showing, at the time revolutionary, advances in type-setting will amplify how far technology has come in the news and digital world. It was originally commissioned to celebrate the paper's 50-year anniversary as a daily newspaper and was first shown at the New Electric Theatre at the Nethergate on March 6, 1911. Produced by Hal Roach, Harold Lloyd's classic will be the feature film of the night and is regarded as one of the greatest comedy films of its era - perhaps even of all time. Even those who are self-confessed amateurs in the silent film world are likely to recognise an iconic image in the film which shows Lloyd clutching the hands of a large clock as he dangles from a skyscraper above traffic. The film depicts the repeated attempts of the central character to impress his girlfriend by pretending to be a high-flyer, rather than reveal his lowly position as a store sales assistant. In doing so, his constant brushes with the law create mayhem and result in him desperately clambering out of various precarious situations. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBnMt9iUwI0 The Friends of the Caird Hall Organ (FOCHO) are the promoters and Jim McKellican, the organisation's archivist and appeals officer said it was a night not to be missed. "This is our fourth one and they have always been very enjoyable and well supported," he said. "We just hope that we will have another similar night as the last ones especially since this one is coinciding with The Courier's 200 year anniversary. "It is sure to be a great night for everyone who attends." Tickets for the show are still available online here or by calling the box office on 01382 434 451. Read more: Celebrating the Caird Hall organ

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km