Pick of the Fringe: classical music, new music, opera

Zimmer-frame opera to renaissance polyphony, Verdian comic gold to total piobaireachd immersion. My pick of music on the Edinburgh Fringe. Enjoy!

Drive By Shooting. An octogenarian discovers her husband has been having an affair with the next door neighbour. Armed with zimmer frames as getaway vehicles, she and a friend stage a hit on the cheating husband. The music builds as a fast and furious thriller, culminating in the immortal operatic line: “shoot the fecker in the pecker!” Composer Brian Irvine has a wicked way with words. The Belfast maverick plays with the daft pizazz of everyday speech, the big drama of Irish rhetoric. Drive By Shooting is a graffiti-style animated opera made in collaboration with writer/director John McIlduff, whose video loop is projected life-size onto a wall at Summerhall. Macabre, full-frontal comedy told through classic operatic idioms of passion, betrayal, revenge and fasle teeth. (Nine performances daily, 15 minutes duration, until August 26 at Summerhall)

Mr McFall’s Chamber. String quartet meets jazz trio via Frank Zappa. Edinburgh’s most gung-ho string players – intrepid members of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra – are a festival fixture. I have formative memories of the jubilantly eclectic cabaret nights they hosted more than two decades ago. This year they team up with clarinettist Maximiliano Martín, pianist Paul Harrison and drummer Stuart Brown for a programme that roams from Zappa’s chamber-psych to new works by Harrison, Mike Kearney and Vivian Barty-Taylor. (730pm, August 11 at the Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh; 8pm, August 12 at the Queen’s Hall)

Edinburgh Quartet. If it’s more straight-up quartet repertoire you’re after, the Edinburgh Quartet is playing a series of hour-long afternoon concerts at St Vincent’s Chapel (Dvorak and associated folk musics at 4pm today). They also give an evening performance of Haydn’s profoundly reflective Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross – interspersing the movements with poems written and read by the American poet Jennifer Rawson. (730pm, August 12, St Vincent’s Chapel)

The Piobaireachd Society. Classical music of the bagpipes in the historic St Cecilia’s Hall. The pipers are Callum Beaumont, Glenn Brown, Jamie Forrester and Ian K. MacDonald; the programme includes 400-year-old tunes and new pieces cast in the ancient style. And according to Jack Taylor, president of the Piobaireachd Society, the evening even promises a miracle of tuning technology. “Most people never hear piobaireachd and know nothing of it,” Taylor admits. “Its few devotees must spend long days at competitions and endure obsessive tuning to quench their thirst. We will condense and finesse the experience […] the continuous stream of the best tunes played by world experts without the distraction of tuning will surely mesmerise even the most sceptical.” (730pm, August 12, St Cecilia’s Hall)

L’Homme Armé. Robert Carver was Scotland’s Palestrina: a virtuoso renaissance polyphonist whose music for the Chapel Royal of Stirling Castle was complex, florid and intensely beautiful. In a programme marking the centenary of the the First World War Armistice, Edinburgh’s early vocal specialists Capella Nova perform Carver’s Missa L’Homme Armé and other exquisite Scottish renaissance works. (410pm & 610pm, August 16 & 17, Greyfriars Kirk)

Anno. Edinburgh-born Anna Meredith comes home this month. She provided the swaggering, redolent music for the International Festival’s opening spectacular Five Telegrams; she performs an orchestrated version of her synth-pop album Varmints with the Southbank Sinfonia (August 11, Leith Theatre). As part of the Fringe, she revives her audiovisual remake of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with the Scottish Ensemble and her illustrator sister Eleanor. Anno refracts and refreshes Vivaldi’s concertos in brilliantly playful and beguiling ways. Meredith’s signature trick is to dismantle, smudge, build; she does it with infectious conviction. (Various times, August 17-18, Edinburgh International Conference Centre)

Bach for solo violin. Bach’s solo violin music journeys from gravitas to elation, from the spryest dance tunes to the most soul-baring laments. To stand alone on stage with this music is to confront the deepest truths – or as violinist Isabelle Faust put it, “an enormous mass of questions which seems to grow bigger with every attempt to answer them”. Hungarian violinist Tamas Fejes is a refined and expressive player who trained in Budapest and lives in Glasgow. He returns to the Fringe to perform solo Bach in one of the city’s finest acoustics. (2pm, August 19, Canongate Kirk)

Falstaff. Founded nine years ago by Fife baritone Douglas Nairne and Glasgow conductor Alistair Digges, Scotland’s roving opera company Opera Bohemia has spent the past month touring Verdi’s comic masterpiece from Ayr to Lossiemouth with multiple stops in between. The run culminates in Edinburgh – a fine cast includes former Scottish Opera emerging artists Andrew McTaggart and Hazel McBain. Sung in Italian with English subtitles, accompanied by The Opera Bohemia Ensemble. (730pm, August 24, St Cuthbert’s Church)