Scottish fiddle fascination Listening: The traditional folk music can be heard in the British Isles or Canada this spring and summer.

Travel Q&A


I recently saw a television show featuring the Scottish National Fiddle Orchestra. Their music fascinated me. Where will they be performing in late May and early June?

"O, my Luve is like the melodie, that's sweetly played in tune," Robert Burns wrote. Whether or not the fiddlers of his native Scotland inspired him, the music you probably heard was traditional folk music, consisting of two basic types of pieces: a reel, an up-tempo piece for a lively Scottish dance of the same name; and a strathspey, slower-tempo dance music. Many fiddle orchestras in Scotland (most cities have their own) list themselves as strathspey and reel societies.

The group you heard is actually called the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra. It is only about 17 years old and consists of 120 fiddlers from all over Scotland. Besides traditional songs, the orchestra also plays contemporary material, accompanied by singers. If you're in the British Isles in May or June, you can hear zTC them play May 31 at the Perth Repertory Theater in the city of Perth (call 44-1738 621-031 for information) and June 14 at the Barbican in London (44-171 638-8891). Tickets should cost about $15 to $26, at $1.71 to the pound.

If you can wait a little longer, you won't have to fly as far to hear them. From June 27 through July 7, the orchestra will present eight concerts in the Canadian province of British Columbia, including the Orpheum Theater in Vancouver June 30 and July 1, (604) 280-4444 for tickets, $23 to $31 in United States currency at 77 cents to the Canadian dollar. And on July 12, they'll play at the Molson Amphitheater in Toronto, (416) 870-8000 for tickets, $23 to $58.

Other ensembles include the Glasgow Fiddle Orchestra, with more than 100 players. The final concert of its current season is May 3 in Glasgow. The Glasgow Strathspey and Reel Society (44-1505 813-399), the orchestra's traditional name, is 110 years old.

To learn more, contact the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland, 17 Calton Road, Edinburgh EH8 8DL, (44-131) 557-8484.

My son lives in Manhattan, and I visit for three weeks or more each year. But he has a very small apartment, with room only for him. Hotels cost a fortune. I'd love an affordable place.

Even the cheapest hotels in Manhattan cost about $100 a night. Feathered Nest, an agency in Manhattan specializing in short-term apartment rentals, might be able to find you a furnished studio apartment for $1,600 for one month, plus a half-month's rent as a fee -- a savings over the cost of a bottom-level hotel if you plan to stay for a month or more. Call (212) 867-8500 -- as far in advance as possible.

Abode Ltd., Post Office Box 20022, New York, N.Y. 10021, (800) 835-8880, another rental agency, might be able to help as well, but call early.

Until your son gets a promotion and can afford a two-bedroom place, bed-and-breakfast accommodations, normally associated with bucolic landscapes in New England, could be a source of savings for you in Manhattan, as well. Judith Goldberg, owner of Bed, Breakfast and Books, 35 W. 92nd St., New York, N.Y. 10025, (212) 865-8740, says that you could rent a spare bedroom in a host's apartment for $60 to $75 a night, including breakfast. You would not, of course, have the apartment to yourself, but many have a private bath, and long-term stays sometimes result in a discount.

At Home in New York, (212) 956-3125, has B&B accommodations starting at $67 a night with shared bath and about $80 with private bath.

Generally speaking, bed--and--break-fast agency owners said, while three-week or one-month stays are rarely accepted by the hosts they represent, if you call far enough in advance, they might be able to accommodate you. It helps to be a nonsmoker.

The Bed and Breakfast Network of New York, 134 W. 32nd St., New York, N.Y. 10001, has rooms with private baths for $1,500 a month. Your own apartment would cost at least $2,000 a month.

Another bed-and-breakfast agency in Manhattan that might be able to help is the Bed and Breakfast Bureau, 306 Eighth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10001; (212) 645-4555.

I plan to visit Hawaii this year, including Maui, Lanai and the Big Island. I can go in either March and April or September and October. My choice will be based on which period offers more favorable weather. Can you help me?

According to Hans Rosendal, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Honolulu, it depends on how you like to spend your vacation.

"The better beach weather, when it's warmer and more humid, is in September and October," Rosendal says. "And the sea surface temperatures are warmer then, too." In September, he says, surface temperatures of the waters lapping up on beaches are about 81 degrees.

"In March and April, it's a little cooler and a little drier, which is better for a person who plans to be more active," he says, adding that sea temperatures are cooler as well.

In Maui, for example, the average daily high in March and April is 81 degrees, the average low 65; in September, the corresponding figures are 88 and 70 degrees.

As for precipitation, the state's rainy season starts in November, Rosendal says, and ends in March. But a lot depends on whether you're on the windward or leeward side of an island. For example, at Hilo, on the windward side of the Big Island of Hawaii, the normal September rainfall is 8.53 inches, with at least 23.3 days a month having .01 inches of rain or more; at Kahului, on the leeward side of Maui, the September figures are 0.35 inches of total rain and 5.6 days with at least 0.01 inches of rain. In March, Hilo averages 13.92 inches of rain and 23.2 wet days; Kahului averages 2.72 inches of rain and 11 wet days in March.

This windward-leeward situation has its advantages, Rosendal points out: "If you have a rainy day, you can usually drive about five miles and find more sun."

Pub Date: 2/23/97

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