The West End is in blossom on Parade Day

Sunday June 7, 2015

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The West End Festival’s Mardi Gras parade took place today, Sunday, 7 June, with nearly 500 participants taking part in the spectacular, themed around ‘bloom’, and an estimated 80,000 lined the streets and soaked up the atmosphere.

The biggest date in the Festival programme is Festival Sunday, which has seen up to 100,000 people lining the streets of Byres Road, Botanic Gardens, Kelvingrove Park and spilling down to Dumbarton Road. Local businesses take advantage of the day with a temporary extension of the bars and cafes into the streets; there were markets/stalls and an awful lot of street entertainment – nearly 40 acts - to help keep the spirit alive even after the parade has finished.  

Organisations from across Glasgow have worked for the last few months to prepare costumes for participating, helping the west end come alive. From a giant thistle and wonderfully colourful hot air balloon to a life-size pear and a bluebell, everyone had a bloomin’ good time!

Hundreds of events (detailed on the WEF website) take place over the next few weeks from music to dance, literature to kids activities and as always, many of the events are free to attend.

Liz Scobie, chairman of the festival commented: “Already we’ve had huge support for our 20th West End Festival. The Gibson Street Gala, a world premiere, local markets and stalls and now the famous parade, all within a week! Thanks to our wonderful team of volunteers who help make all of this happen.

“Next week we’re launching a special exhibition at the Kibble Palace with the Kelpie maquettes, salsa dancing, comedy, whisky master-class, kids activities, science, a ceilidh and numerous top class music events and theatre. So much to choose from, it’s difficult to pinpoint one or two highlights!”

Full event listings via


20th West End Festival launches

Friday June 5, 2015

The West End Festival (WEF) launches today (Friday, 5 June 2015) with its biggest and boldest line-upto-date, celebrating 20 years of being Glasgow’s favourite festival. The Kelpies return home and a world premier is planned!

The biggest date in Festival programme is Festival Sunday, which has seen up to 100,000 people lining the streets of Byres Road, Botanic Gardens, Kelvingrove Park and spilling down to Dumbarton Road. This year it takes place on Sunday, 7 June, the opening weekend and will start in the Botanic Gardens and come down Byres Road. The theme ‘Bloom’ will work its way through the parade where organisations from across Glasgow have worked to prepare costumes for participating.

On the opening day alone, 18 events take place, one of which is a world premiere! Louise Macdonald presents: "Mary Queen of Scots" new works by Judith Bingham, Dee Isaacs and Eddie McGuire, performed with Schumann's "Maria Stuart Lieder"-a close look at the letters and poetry of Mary Queen of Scots.

WEF also welcomes the Kelpies home!* The Kelpie Maquettes will be on display from 9 June in the Botanic Gardens as part of an exhibition to help fundraise for Queen Margaret Drive footpath restoration.

Big names such as Elaine C Smith, John Rutter, Julia Donaldson, Liz Lochhead and Peggy Seeger feature in the programme too.

Hundreds of events detailed on the WEF website take place over the next few weeks from music to dance, literature to kids activities and as always, many of the events are free to attend.

Liz Scobie, chairman of the festival commented: “The Gibson Street Gala last weekend was fantastic and the whole area was super busy! We’ve now got our brains in gear for the parade this weekend and we’re definitely keeping our fingers crossed for the weather!

“I’d like to thank everyone involved in the festival this year, helping make our 20th anniversary something special.

 “Of course none of this would be possible without our volunteers and the generous donations from our supporters and funders, in particular, Glasgow City Council.

“We’ve got a few surprises brewing for later in the month!”

Bailie Liz Cameron, Executive Member for Jobs and the Economy at Glasgow City Council, finished: “This year’s West End Festival is set to be ‘blooming’ fantastic, and I and so many people are looking forward to the tremendous programme of events on offer this month.  There is truly something for everyone at the festival, so whether you like music, dance, literature, visual arts or children’s events, there will be something for you.” 


Music at The Hill

Thursday June 4, 2015

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It’s so great to be involved this year in one of the West End Festival ‘Parade Day’ events and to help support new music in Glasgow and I'm really excited to be able to showcase some of the amazing talent which has recorded at our Boombox Studios over the past year. 

The outdoor Stage at the Hill is a great new addition to the festival and provides the perfect platform for new acts of all genres to receive fantastic exposure and the opportunity to play in front of a great Glasgow crowd amidst the magical parade day atmosphere….and best of all it is Free to Enjoy for everyone!

Some of the One’s To Watch include electro pop outfit "100 Fables". The New wave influenced sound and energetic performance by their lead singer, Lyndsey Liora, is not to be missed…imagine The Cars meets The Killers. Excited to hear 100 Fables' new single ‘Future Girl’ & young R&B Pop singer Ryan Alexander will also be debuting his fantastic upcoming single ‘Ain’t Got You’.

Lucia Fontainé

Lucia Fontainé

Scarlet Baxter

Scarlet Baxter

For fans of The Vamps, McBusted & 5SOS, all female band The Cassettez are a must watch with their catchy punk pop tunes and mega stage vibes! The Cassettez went down a storm at last years Total Access Live festival alongside Ella Eyre, Pixie Lott, Foxes & Rizzle Kicks and are lined up for more amazing summer festivals this year leading up to the release of their first single ‘Zombie disco’.

Acoustic acts include Singer/Songwriter 'Toni Etherson’ who will be performing some tracks from her upcoming debut Album ‘The Brightside’ and the talented young ‘Josh Breaks’ will be debuting some of his fantastic songwriting and heartfelt vocals.

London based R&B singer "Scarlet Baxter", who has been tipped for the top by BBC6 & Hard Rock Rising, will be performing her recent soundcloud smash ‘Down With It’ as well as new single ‘Cruel Love’. Scarlet has been compared to a female Sam Smith.

Another act I’m excited about is "Lucia Fontainé"…Lucia’s soulful husky tones, delivered with a retro punkness of some of the great bands from CBGB’s 1977, and tracks such as ‘Bored Of The Radio’ and ‘Queen Of Everything’, have attracted huge excitement from major record labels & cool indie labels alike.. . Lucia performed earlier this year with legendary Glaswegian Film Composer, Craig Armstrong, and she will also be supporting current chart toppers ‘Sheppard' on the 17th June at The Oran Mor.  

The event isn’t just all about the new artists though…Glasgow’s "TJ Bilham", who has recently supported Rebecca Ferguson & the legendary Tom Jones, will be performing in his unique Bublé-style, some tracks from his upcoming album and Scotland’s favourite Rockabilly band, "The Tennessee Hotshots", are headlining the show at 7pm. Their Rock'in classics & massive fanbase will be sure to get the whole street jiving to a close!

Collect ‘Free Entry’ Wristbands from The Hill bar, 94 Byres rd, for access to the main outdoor stage area.


Gaelic - the second hour

Wednesday June 3, 2015

Scottish people have shown an awesome commitment to learning Gaelic, with a view to maintaining this part of their linguistic heritage. But learners often find it hard to get accurate information on how Gaelic works. The workshop 'Gaelic in an Hour!', run by local linguist Derek Rogers in an earlier West End Festival, was a response to this need.

There Derek dealt with such basic features as lenition, pronunciation, and how to build noun-phrases. This time he will get the audience to play some silly word-games, look again at pronunciation, and shine light into a dark corner where verbs lurk.

The workshop is for beginners and experienced speakers alike, and will show that a coherent system lies behind Gaelic's seemingly random difficulties. And it's an interactive workshop, so all participants will chatter bits of Gaelic - no-one escapes without opening their mouth!

And it'll put you in the mood for An Lochran's 'Togaibh Fonn!', later the same three days.

Free event. Wellington Church, Southpark Avenue.


PRIMAVOCE launches at WEF

Monday June 1, 2015

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Torch Song Divas


The fabulous voices of Torch Song Divas, Elaine C. Smith and Christina Dunwoodie combine the earthiness of soul, blues and jazz with the lyricism of classic opera, as they take an irreverent and witty look at the eternal themes of love, loss, betrayal and survival that form the beating (and sometimes bleeding !) heart of these great musical traditions.

CD Torch Song Divas

This fantastic mix of modern song and opera asks which is more tragically beautiful, ‘The man that got away’ or ‘Addio del passato’ from Traviata on the same theme. Between them, Elaine and Christina take the audience on a roller coaster of tears and laughter, accompanied by the fabulously virtuosic pianist, Gordon Cree.


Adopt a composer

Thursday May 28, 2015

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Our concert will feature a new commission which is part of the Making Music 'Adopt a composer scheme'. We were the only Making Music ensemble in Scotland to be paired with a composer. The Adopt a Composer project annual opportunity for an amateur orchestra, choir or band to 'adopt' an up-and-coming composer. The composer works with the performing group over the course of 12 months to produce a new piece of music, culminating in a premiere performance. Adopt a Composer is run by Making Music in partnership with Sound and Music, in association with BBC Radio 3, and funded by PRS For Music Foundation and the Philip and Dorothy Green Trust.

BBC Radio 3 will be recording the piece written by Mark Carroll at our concert. 

Mark's piece Mark Carroll sets out to fuse elements of his Northumbrian home with those of the Lanarkshire home of Strathaven Choral Society and was roused by accounts of James Purley Wilson, Strathaven weaver and  nineteenth century radical, executed after the rising of 1820.  The inscription on James Wilson’s memorial in the town and the cries of the onlookers at his execution in Glasgow provide the words of a haunting, melancholic new piece.


Details of the adopt a composer scheme can be found here:


Details of the Choral Society can be found here:


Details of Mark Carroll can be found here:


Mary, Queen of Scots

Tuesday May 26, 2015

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Last summer, I sang for Sholto Kynoch, director of the Oxford Lieder Festival, who offered to co-commission new works by three composers for a concert, with Schumann's 'Maria Stuart Lieder'.

Next step – find the composers! I listened to many recordings of living composers and wished to find those who could reflect different aspects of Mary Stuart's character. As soon as I heard a piece for soprano by Judith Bingham, I knew she could bring the humanity and drama alive. I wrote to her blog page, not sure if she would receive my message and she replied immediately, saying yes! Already a well established composer, little did I know that Judith would soon be inundated with requests, as she was working on an anthem for the reinterment of the body of Richard 3rd in Leicester Cathedral. We met in London, at my singing lesson, so Judith could hear the Schumann pieces and she told me about her idea. Work began!  

Then Eddie McGuire also agreed to write, because of the historical significance of the subject. I knew that Eddie had the skill to set French poetry and that he worked across classical and traditional Scottish spheres. When we met in Glasgow's Mitchell Library, Eddie said that he would like to set something from Mary's youth, as he was moved by her vibrance and her early losses. We found a set of poems that Mary Stuart wrote, in French, 'stanzas on the death of King Francis 2nd', her husband who died when she was barely eighteen and he sixteen. Eddie told me that he had an anonymous score of the wedding of Margaret Tudor and James 4th of Scotland, so we looked up the family tree and discovered that these were Mary Stuart's grandparents. Work began on variations on this marriage anthem. 

Composer Dee Isaacs was immediately drawn to write a setting of Mary's words, 'In my end is my beginning', embroidered on a cloth round her bed in her last place of long-term imprisonment. She has brought a tender voice and simplicity to Mary's story and wrote a lullaby for James. Looking at the Marian hangings, needlework of Mary in captivity, Dee chose the theme of the Phoenix Rising, as a central panel in her 'Triptych for Mary'. I remembered a poem, Phoenix Rising', by John Donne, who was fifteen at the time of Mary Stuart's death, so this was perfect. 

My motto for this project has been, 'turn obstacles into springboards', finding solutions and asking, 'what next?' in response to many challenges.  I am so proud to be in rehearsal with the wonderful pianist Ingrid Sawers, with support from the West End Festival for the premiere.


Gigs at Oran Mor and QMU

Wednesday June 25, 2014

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Oran Mor


Terry Neason

Thursday 26 June, 7pm, £16

 Terry Neason

Celtic Kisses, Slaps 'n' Tickles: Award winning Diva, Terry Neason, performs a roller-coaster collection of Celtic and Country songs, poems, wit and wisdom. As well as originals, includes classics, ballads and belters. 

"Fantastically talented; her voice is rich, versatile, huge, raw and quiveringly beautiful." - The Scotsman, UK *****


QMU: Jim’s Bar


Tetra, All She Knows, Friends of Ours, Miles End

Friday 27 June, 7pm, £10


A four-piece alternative rock group who hail from Glasgow create a combination of heavy riffs, catchy melodies and interesting harmonies set to have you bobbing your head and singing along.

Having played in many venues throughout Glasgow already including King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, Broadcast and Buff Club they are growing their fan base and starting to get their name out there. Keep your eyes, and more importantly your ears peeled.


Jasmine with Martin Reilly

Saturday 28 June, 7pm, £10


Appearing with her fantastic new band, this songwriter from Glasgow  sings with a dynamically powerful yet delicate voice that is mature for its age.

Romi Kadri from Interscope sang his praises of the talented melody maker saying she has a "great voice", and Alan McGee at 359 Music said he "loves it".

Check out for details of other shows we are doing in QMU: Jim’s Bar during the festival.



Closing event at the Kelvingrove Bandstand

Monday June 23, 2014

This Sunday (29 June) we're wrapping the festival up with our FREE closing event at the Kelvingrove bandstand!

It will represent the community of local musicians that WEF has previously used over the years at the free stages in Kelvingrove Park on Parade Day.

Excitingly, it will also see the bandstand being used once again during #WEF2014 for a line-up of varied bands.

If you can believe it, the bands have some unexpected members; former MSP Pauline McNeill, rugby legend John Beattie, and Michelle McManus (Honest Sam and the Dealers).

Local bands also have the chance of performing at the closing event. Michael Dale, festival director, explained the process: “We have also opened up a slot during the day for ‘amateur’ local bands to play. Bands which are interested in playing and are available, will enter a mini competition to win a slot.


Take a look at the line up below:

1pm - Pauline McNeill Band

1.45pm - L'Acoustica

2.10pm - Hat Trick

2.35pm - Community Choir

3pm - Mugen Taiko Dojo

3.40pm Possible competition winners

4.15pm - John Beattie Band

5.15pm - Honest Sam and the Dealers

6pm - FINISH


How to enter the competition

Entries of videos and Sound Cloud links along with a covering email should be sent to to show us what you can do.

Bands must also answer the following question: What does the West End Festival mean to you? Entries should be sent by 12pm on Wednesday 25 June and chosen band(s) will be notified by Friday, 27 June.

Twitter: #WEF2014 @westendfest