Music can take inspiration from all kinds of sources, but it's probably safe to say that Simon Holt's latest piece is the first to be written in memory of a one-legged taxidermist.

Co-commissioned by the CBSO and the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, A Table Of Noises is a percussion concerto inspired by the life of the composer's taxidermist great-uncle Ashworth Hutton.

It has its world premiere at Symphony Hall next Wednesday, with Colin Currie as soloist and Martyn Brabbins conducting the CBSO.

The six movements, divided by five brief instrumental "ghosts", reflect Hutton's activities, and the physical layout of the soloist's instruments mirrors Hutton's own need to have everything he required to get him through the day being laid out on a table next to him - he was virtually one-legged.

I caught up with Colin Currie just before he was jetting off for a week performing in Malaysia.

"I'm performing with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, and I'm playing one of my favourite concertos with them, written for me by Joe Duddell," he explains. "It was a Proms premiere and commission written in 2003."

Transportation of his panoply of gear isn't a problem. "I don't do that. I rent and borrow things once I'm out there."

In the last couple of decades or so, percussion has been emancipated from its rather patronising description as the orchestral "kitchen" (even before I became a percussionist myself I was not impressed with that term), and is now one of the hottest properties on the concert platform. How has this transformation come about?

"I think it's player-led and I think it's repertoire-based, as well," says Currie. "In recent years, in the past 10 years, there's been a vast improvement in both those areas. I think audiences enjoy percussion: it's something to latch on to.

"It's accessible. It's an art form that has a visual element, and it's a bit unusual, and I think audiences are craving something new, and they enjoy a little bit of adventure - not too much, but just enough."

Colin Currie agrees with me that his Scottish compatriot Evelyn Glennie can claim credit for being one of the leading lights in this change of perception.

"Yes, well, she's certainly a pioneer in the art form, and certainly very important, especially in establishing it."

Currie doesn't share with me my discomfort that in amateur orchestras, people who can't play anything else bash a drum. He doesn't see it as a devaluation of his instruments.

"No, no at all. For one thing the sound-production of instruments is rather easier than probably all the other instruments, but to play the instruments well is extremely difficult, and in actual fact probably much harder than most other instruments.

"Anyone can hit a cymbal to mediocre effect, but to master an instrument like the marimba is much harder and much rarer than mastering the piano."

As we've moved on to orchestral percussion, I ask Colin Currie whether he did any orchestral playing earlier in his still-short career.

"Yes, when I was at the Royal Academy of Music in London I was focusing very much on orchestral percussion, and I played a lot in the London Symphony Orchestra. I was in the European Youth Orchestra, and before that I was in the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, including playing The Planets in Symphony Hall under Christopher Seaman, probably around 1993."

Currie is active as a teacher as well as a performer. "I'm visiting professor at the RAM. And you have some highly musical percussionists at Birmingham Conservatoire, where I've done some examining."

The move from being an orchestral percussionist to a full-time soloist is a huge one. Is there a spread of percussion soloists coming from around the world, or has this country cor-nered the market?

"Well, there aren't that many soloists on the circuit. There could be more on the way, but it's largely just myself and Evelyn. We're the ones who are performing internationally, and we've quite a wide territory. I'm off to Malaysia on Monday, and I play a lot in North America, and various places in Europe. So that's still very, very rare."

Currie's performance of the Simon Holt piece with the CBSO will be quite a visual spectacle as well as a musical one.

"It's very important to bear in mind the inspiration behind this piece, which is a sort of 'In Memoriam' for one of Simon's family-members," Colin declares.

"Each of the movements has a special title, linked with a childhood memory, and I think above all it would be quite important to bear them in mind as you listen to the music.

"It will be quite an unusual piece to watch as it is performed, yes, so in that sense there will be some visuals involved. The instruments are quite unusual, the set-up is slightly odd, and even quirky, quirky even for a percussion concerto!

"There's no percussion concerto quite like it. Musically it's very, very different, it's kind of breaking out in a new direction, one I'm grateful and very happy about, and very excited to do it."

* Colin Currie performs Simon Holt's A Table of Noises with the CBSO, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, on Wednesday May 14 (7.30pm). Details on 0121 780 3333. Colin Currie performs Snowblind for percussion and strings by Joe Duddel in the opening concert of the Presteigne Festival on August 21. For details see