Sunday June 28, 2015
Photo credit John Linton
The West End Festival, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, has come to an end for another year. It is estimated 125,000 people attended festival events between 5 and 28 June
The festival celebrated what has been the biggest and most enjoyed festival to-date with over 400 exhibitions, performances, talks, tours, workshops and screenings at over 80 west end venues. Many of the events are programmed free of charge to encourage a wider audience and it is estimated that *115,000 festival go-ers attended free events.
Creon Brock, music and theatre programmer for Oran Mor said, “This year’s West End Festival has been another great success at Oran Mor. We've had 38 shows across the festival, and a typically eclectic range of genres including theatre, tribute bands, folk, pop, indie, jazz, talks and poetry. The highlight of the festival at Oran Mor was our 4th annual All Dayer which took place last weekend and saw 14 Scottish bands, playing across 3 stages, all in the one building”.
Other festival highlights included the Kelpie Maquettes 'coming home' (which saw over 20,000 visit the G20 Heritage exhibition) and Mackintosh Queens Cross Summer Concert, ‘Feel the Spirit’, with globally renowned composer and conductor, John Rutter. For families, author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Nick Sharratt brought the Gruffalo to the festival, giving children the unique opportunity to meet the literary character.
Festival director, Michael Dale said: “Participants from all over the world brought events to the festival including those from Japan, Serbia, India, Russia, Germany and the USA. From the mobbed streets of Byres Road on Festival Sunday to the packed out Kelvingrove bandstand finale, we’re very pleased with WEF 2015!”
This year, the festival has been working with Yelp Glasgow, the online crowd-source review company. Yelp helped recruit over 30 citizen reporters; they attended events, wrote reviews and posted them on the dedicated WEF Yelp page. Glasgow’s blogger community also got involved on a bigger scale this year helping engage more visitors and bring them closer to the festival experience.
The website also reached record activity during the festival with 200,000 page views since 5 June and nearly 16,000 unique visitors to the website on parade day alone.
The festival would not be possible without support from key funders including the National Lottery, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Arts and Scottish Book Trust, in addition to all local businesses and participants who contribute tremendous effort.
Festival chairman, Liz Scobie, finished, “This year has been the most fantastic and energised festival yet and I would like to thank everyone involved including funders, visitors, participants and the local community. We're already looking forward to our 21st birthday celebrations next year. In the meantime, we're taking a short break prior to launching our second winter event at the end of 2015, The Electric Gardens!”
Saturday June 27, 2015
Last night, in the beautiful surroundings of Mackintosh Queen’s Cross, I attended a ‘Recital from the Golden Age’, performed by violinist Feargus Hetherington and pianist Edward Cohen.
A golden age of anything is a period of time looked back on with fond sentiment. For violinist Feargus Hetherington, there was a clear golden age for the violin and piano duo between 1920 - 1939 with many pieces now lost and no longer played in public. Feargus’ goal is to resurrect some of these pieces and bring them, as well as the golden age of violin and piano concerts, back to their former glory. And boy did he ever!
Although not packed out, there was a fair crowd of around 30 at the event which in a way made it feel more exclusive - a sort of private evening with Feargus and Edward as they played their music. The variety of pieces packed out the hour making it seem like much longer in the best of senses. One minute a light-hearted melody which would have been suitable for a mixer on the lawn of the White House and the next a dramatic piece which could have come straight from a black and white tragic film.
The pieces were played with such conviction, as could be seen in the faces of both musicians, filling the small stage space with enough drama and fervour to keep the audience near enough transfixed for the entire performance. It was incredibly impressive to see two musicians hold a group’s attention so completely for so long!
A piano and violin recital is not my usual cup of tea, I’ll admit. However, after the performance tonight, I will seek to try out something of a similar caliber in the future. For any who wish to experience a performance in the Mackintosh Queen’s Cross there is A Piano Recital with Peter Seivewright tonight at 7.30pm with tickets available online and at the door.
Friday June 26, 2015
Oran Mor’s “A Play, A Pie and A Pint” is a hugely successful lunchtime theatre initiative where visitors – you guessed it – have the chance to see an adaptation of a classic play while enjoying a pie and a pint (or glass of wine or soft drink if you are so inclined). It’s great to see the event continue as part of the West End Festival with its Summer Season of Classic Cuts. This week the feature piece was Harman Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’ which I had the pleasure of seeing yesterday afternoon.
Arriving ten minutes before the performance started, it was already difficult to find a seat among the 60 or so other people there where I could enjoy my pie (meat and vegetarian options available) so my first observation would be to get there early! The performance space consisted of a small runway and stage behind it making for a very intimate-feeling performance no matter where you were sat. As the lights dimmed the three performers who played all of the characters marched in from the rear, singing an old sea shanty and even slipped in a sly nod to Scotland during it. This was met with more than a few chuckles from the crowd.
The three actors regaled the captivated audience (myself included) with the tale of the white whale and one captain’s insatiable need for revenge against it. All three of them gave powerful performances using very subtle, if any, sound effects and basic props. The transition between narrative and performance was very slick and worked well as part of the 45 minute piece. Despite watching captain Ahab descend further into his destructive obsession with Moby Dick, there were a few light hearted moments which were weaved skilfully into the performance keeping the experience not too intense for a lunch time event.
Moby Dick was incredibly enjoyable to watch at Oran Mor. Great setting, great cast, great play and great pie (although I could have eaten another!) I’m a convert to “A Play, A Pie and A Pint” and will be back to check out whatever takes centre stage next!
Moby Dick will be performed again today (26th June) and tomorrow (27th June) with tickets available online or at the door of Oran Mor.
Thursday June 25, 2015
Little Bat productions presents: Speaking in Tongues - the story of nine interwoven lives. It deals with the right and wrongs of emotional conduct, of contracts broken between intimates, bonds forged between strangers and the darker aspects of human nature.
Sonja & Leon and Pete & Jane are all happily married. Or so they say. But one night Sonja meets Pete in a bar – they go back to a hotel room. Leon meets Jane in a bar – they go back to a hotel room. Is what happens tragic or inevitable? How well do your really know the one you love?
A woman disappears. But who was the last one to see her alive? Her husband? Her client? Or the man who finds her shoe in his car? Speaking in Tongues takes you on a journey through a web of deceit, love, lies and death to answer the question ‘Do you truly know the one you love?’
The production company Little Bat Bat is the creation of Meli Bach in collaboration with Simon McCay and Una McDade.
“Little Bat grew out of the need / desire to DO something and not just sit around waiting for someone else to cast us in great roles. By taking control of ‘making it happen’ we get to cast ourselves and choose projects that challenge us. When looking for material we wanted stuff that intrigued and captivated us. When we first read Speaking in Tongues we all thought ‘how are we going to do this?’ That’s all part of the challenge.
The ability of this play to capture the imagination, to keep people debating and asking questions, is one of the reasons we chose it. It is brilliant writing and technically quite difficult with simultaneous scenes and overlapping dialogue.”
- Meli Bach
Review by Andrew Stewart:
"The recently renovated and elegant Webster’s theatre plays host to the fascinating production by Andrew Bovell, ‘Speaking In Tongues’.
Meli Bach, Simon McCav, Jessica Phillippi and James J Robson take centre stage in this play about adultery and betrayal. Opening in a sleazy hotel, we are introduced to the first four characters telling two similar stories at once. At first this method seems confusing however as the play progresses we see the reason for this clever approach. As the act continues we learn about the individual characters and their marriage woes. This initially required intense concentration pays off as the story progresses.
As the second half begins we are introduced to four more characters played by the same people. Although again mildly confusing, this device becomes compelling and creates a feeling of pain shared between the characters. This play is clever as it intertwines everyone’s story and brings about an interesting plot involving a detective, a woman councillor with self-esteem issues and a character who might have been a murderer. As the plot develops, the audience begin to see how each character connects with one another and with that allows for a unique story about relationships to be told.
During the play there were many different environments including a bar and a hotel. The clever use of props allowed the audience to feel as if they were in the set environment with the characters. Working with little space, credit is due to the creative ability in order to make this a success. With only four actors playing nine different characters the opening night of ‘Speaking In Tongues’ was certainly a hit at the Webster Theatre."
Tickets available online through Little Bat Productions for performances today (25th June) and tomorrow (26th June).
Wednesday June 24, 2015
Anne Hardy’s newest exhibition “Twin Fields” at The Common Guild, an exhibition space for visual arts projects and events, is perhaps one of the more unusual yet brilliant exhibitions you may visit while perusing the fine selection of art events the West End Festival has to offer.
Hardy, a London-based British artist, has had many solo exhibitions since 2004 where she predominantly creates large sets/environments and photographs them to create her art. These sets have been characterised as “hovering between reality and fiction”, and although never featuring people, have been described to have personas and very distinctive feels about them.
The current feature piece as part of her newest ‘Twin Fields’ exhibition, is a stand-alone wooden box which you can enter which is fitted almost like a rural cabin in the wilderness. To create the sets, Hardy often ‘comes across’ materials and uses them in her urban scenes. All elements of the set are very carefully chosen and arranged despite their incidental appearance and this is part of the genius behind Hardy and her work. It is also a unique experience to be able to engage with such immersive art through visual, hearing, touch and smell sensations.
Anne used to create the sets in order to photograph but as she progressed further with creating the environments, they became her art in their own right. The settings for her installations are carefully chosen as they often become part of the exhibit themselves. People who have watched Anne work describe how each piece grows and evolves, manifesting itself in the surrounding studio space. The open and spacious townhouse location for this exhibit beautifully contrasts the enclosed and rustic nature of the set on display.
Once exhibits are finished, they are dismantled so experience this unique exhibition while you can! Twin fields will be showing in The Common Guild until the beginning of August. More information on Hardy can be found on her website and at The Common Guild.
Tuesday June 23, 2015
Have you ever wanted to join an exciting flute ensemble? Well now is your chance! The Flute Phonics, an eclectic mix of amateur flautists who play a variety of styles from classical to rock and everything in between, are holding open rehearsals tonight as part of the West End Festival.
The group has two very talented conductors to guide them: Rachel Forbes and Aisling Agnew. Rachel began playing the flute at age 13 and went on to study at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland before becoming a freelance flautist, playing in chamber groups and teaching.
Aisling Agnew, also a student at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, learned the flute with Billy Dunwoody in the 39th Old Boys Flute Ensemble. Since then she has enjoyed a successful international career, releasing multiple records and working alongside various other ensembles including her long-standing flute & guitar duo with Matthew McAllister.
So if you can read music and are at a standard of around grade 3 or above then come along to Hillhead Baptist Church from 7.15-9.15pm tonight and show off your flautist skills! You can find more about the Flute Phonics on their website.
Monday June 22, 2015
Located on Byres Road, Hillhead is the ideal stop for those wishing to visit the charming lanes the west end is so well known for and stunning parks and green areas for a healthy outdoor life. With still so much to see and do this is your guide to what’s happening in and around Hillhead station.
The Bothy Restaurant
Stepping off the subway onto Byres Road which hosted the parade on Festival Sunday, The Bothy restaurant hides just across the road down Ruthven Lane and offers a return to traditional Scottish cooking in a relaxed, comfortable environment. Easily one of the top restaurants in the West End, The Bothy delivers modern food with friendly service. Upcoming events include…..
Experience a tour of some of Scotland's finest distilleries from the comfort of The Bothy! As well as a delicious three course meal from our Scottish menu, enjoy a fantastic selection of whiskies and discover the history behind your favourite distilleries. Our expert will provide an insight into what makes the perfect blend and guide you through the techniques used to properly identify and taste different whiskies.
Thursday 25 Jun 7:00 pm – Tickets £35.95
Every Saturday during the festival (weather permitting) we'll be firing up the BBQ on our outdoor terrace space, which is quite the sun trap. Expect different options every week as only the freshest locally caught seafood goes on the grill, as well as our famous steak and haggis burgers. For the movers and shakers out there everything can be ordered to go!
Saturday 27 Jun 12:00am
Crossing back over the road again you’ll find the Oran Mor sporting a ring atop its spire which is lit up at night! Formerly the Kelvinside Parish Church, it is now a thriving arts and entertainment venue located in the West End of Glasgow. Offering a Whisky Bar, restaurant and night club, this stunning building is a key host for the West End Festival. Here are two of the many events still to come!
The combination of Scotland and Ireland's leading Celtic musicians with a stellar group of international salseros, ensures that Salsa Celtica are always a potent blend of virtuosity and energy. The group's unique synthesis has been rapturously received around the globe, from the village halls of Scotland to the world's greatest music festivals and concert halls. Nominated for best cross cultural collaboration in the 2015 Songlines Music Awards (along with Kronos Quartet and Robert Plant) there has never been a better time to catch one of the world's most exciting and enjoyable groups perform live.
Wednesday 24 Jun 8:00pm
Tickets £15. Call 0844 844 0444 or in person at venue.
In her 80th year, Peggy Seeger - folk queen, feminist icon, political activist, eco-warrior, muse - releases her 22nd and probably finest solo album. Everything Changes is a perfect example of what a singer-songwriter album should be: songs with truths to tell, told sparely but with a great chorus, delivered passionately with intelligence and humour and never outstaying its welcome.
Saturday 27 Jun 7:00pm
Tickets £17.50 (plus booking fee) from Oran Mor, 0844 844 0444 or in person at venue.
Kelvinside Hillhead Church
Heading up Observatory Road (again just off Byres), you’ll run into Kelvinside Hillhead Parish Church. This breath-taking building is truly something to be admired and houses a variety of events during the West End Festival including:
Join Glasgow Chamber Choir for a joyous evening of music finishing the season in style. Classics by Whitacre and Grainger will be performed alongside new works and old favourites – expect some surprises!
The beautiful setting of Kelvinside Hillhead Parish Church provides the ideal setting for this midsummer musical celebration, which will conclude with refreshments.
Saturday 27 Jun 7:00pm – Tickets £8 (£5 conc) at the door and more info about the Glasgow Chamber Choir can be found on their website.
A chance to join in with favourite hymns on the last Sunday evening of this year's West End Festival
Sunday 28 Jun 7:00pm
The Hillhead Bookclub
One of the most popular and quirky pubs/restaurants in the west end, Hillhead Bookclub is your spot for ping pong, bingo and mismatched furniture. A relaxing, vibrant place situated just behind the Oran Mor offering great food and friendly service, the Bookclub is playing host to Drag Bingo and anywhere where cocktails are served in gramophones is bound to provide a fantastic evening of entertainment!
Eyes down! You might need some reading glasses as the lovely Misses October Fist and Acid Taunt, throw shape and pull out their bingo balls as we play for a £500 cash prize.
Strap yourself in, this isn't granny bingo, this is ball drag bingo!
Wednesday 24 Jun 8:00pm
Hillhead station has many popular venues located on its doorstep including the Grosvenor Cinema and Hillhead Library. With plenty more still on offer visit the West End Festival website for more information.
Next Stop: Kelvinhall Station
Monday June 22, 2015
Tomoe was initially drawn to Glasgow through it’s indie music scene and described herself as captivated when she heard “Biggest Bluest Hi-fi”, the debut LP from indie pop band Camera Obscura in 2001 stating “It changed my life”. In 2005 Tomoe got a student visa and came to Glasgow, still pursuing the musical scene and going to a lot of gigs during her year of residence.
Not an arts student by trade, Tomoe picked up Photoshop, Illustrator and Dreamweaver (design software packages) while in Japan and first began making stop animation which can be seen here. From 2012 she fused this style of art with her love of Glasgow to create stunningly intricate paper-cuts of Glasgow areas and buildings.
Tomoe commented “I have been visiting Glasgow once a year since 2006. I always miss it when I leave and love the local atmosphere. There is a smell about Glasgow, (not a bad one) which I always get at the airport and when walking through the streets which cannot be described by words. It makes me happy to be back and I want Glaswegians to know that I love Glasgow”
Sunday June 21, 2015
I sing. I love singing. Ella Fitzgerald said that the only thing better than singing was more singing. We can all do it and should do more of it simply because it makes us happy. I have sung previously for Her Maj and the Queen of Denmark. I've sung in the White House for a US President; in Hong Kong for the last Governor-General; in Ottawa for Canada's parliament and Prime Minister. Singing has taken me to the Sydney Opera House and war-torn Jerusalem, and next year, hopefully, will take me to China.
On Saturday, 27th June, I'll pass a glorious Saturday night with the RSNO Chorus singing Durufle’s Requiem in St Mary's Cathedral on Great Western Road, and I hope you'll be able to join us. You won't be disappointed. Religious choral music can deliver unique spiritual beauty far beyond earthly prejudices.
Durufle's Requiem emerged from the embittering stresses and tensions of Nazi occupied Paris in the early 1940s. It was commissioned by the collaborating Vichy government. But its nine short movements were only completed three years after liberation as Paris made peace with itself to regain its place as the city of light and love.
The 100-strong chorus will be conducted by our recently appointed Musical Director, Gregory Batsleer, and accompanied by Steven McIntyre on the splendid St. Mary’s organ. The programme also provides a trio of beautiful motets by Anton Bruckner.
Whatever this wonderful concert delivers, it underscores Glasgow's prestigious legacy in choral singing. The RSNO Chorus evolved from the Glasgow Choral Union, formed in 1843 to sing the first full performance of Handel’s Messiah in Scotland. Almost 50 years passed before Scotland’s national orchestra was officially founded and chorus and orchestra still perform The Messiah every year on January 2nd.
Remember there are over 100 choral groups in Glasgow and, in this our 20th Festival, there are around 25 singing groups participating – virtually a whole festival in its own right. Glasgow Youth Choir conductor, Audrey McKirdy, ran a magnificent singing workshop for kids over the first WEF2015 weekend at Hillhead Library. That same weekend the City of Glasgow Chorus, directed by Graham Taylor, performed the Faure Requiem, alongside other choral classics, at Hyndland Parish Church.
The Mackintosh Choir, featuring John Rutter, performed to a standing room only audience on 14th June, and, over the past couple of weeks, we’ve enjoyed Gospel, Russian, Chamber, A Cappella, Barbershop and Evensong, as well as the Harry Ensemble from London ….. and still lots more to look forward to .... just as Ella said. The only thing better than singing is more singing.
RSNO Chorus performs Maurice Durufle's Requiem at St Mary's Cathedral, Great Western Road, Glasgow on Saturday June 27th.
Liz Scobie, Festival Chairman
Saturday June 20, 2015
Iain has dazzled audiences at many festivals and music venues around the UK with his multi-styled guitar playing from the Royal Concert Hall to the SECC. One reviewer even want as far as to say, “One of the best Guitarists I've ever seen, Iain combines an astonishing talent with a huge range of musical tastes - and a refreshing lack of self-importance”.
So head on down to CC Music tomorrow (21st June) for a special performance by an astonishingly talented guitarist featuring special guests. Supported by song writing brothers ‘King of Birds' and the soulful and majestic 'Chloe Marie'.
To see Iain perform his famous "Weejie Jig" click here.