Monday, 4 June 2012

Recycle your local church

A couple of weeks ago I managed to get to see another Play, a Pie and a Pint performance at Oran Mor, a fine example of a church, formerly Kelvinside Parish Church, which has been turned to another use. So successful has this arrangement been that only this week David MacLennan won the inaugural Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS). Although I'd like to, I think I'll be struggling to see this week's  Play, a Pie and a Pint offering, a new play by Peter MacDougall.

Another nearby church is also up and running again as a theatre space after recent renovations. It was about 8 years ago that I saw campaigning comedian Mark Thomas in Cottiers Theatre, getting quite merry and excited about performing there because he liked the idea of taking over church buildings for new (non-religious) uses. The Four Acres Trust people who bought Downahill Church in 1984 and started the process of converting it into an arts venue, whilst preserving the decor within the church of Daniel Cottier, do seem to be quite earnest in their efforts to save it for art's sake. With the annual jamboree that is the West End Festival in full swing again this month they have for the second year put on the perfect season of performances for the performance space, with The Chamber Project, daily performances of a varied programme of chamber music. I looked it up to check, but chamber music is music written for a small group of instruments, such as could fit in small room, private salon or palace chamber. Last year I saw a couple of the performances that they put on, Daniel's Beard, sort of Cottier's house chamber ensemble were the ones that stick in my memory, mainly as the musicians seemed very relaxed, chatty and engaging.

Just pop it in the freezer, et voila! A jubilee

Today I hadn't planned a bit of classical music after my tea, but enjoying a few days off work because of the Queen's jamboree (that's what it's called, right?) I've been doing Bank Holiday type things. Yesterday I took the kids an overlong run on their bikes to Clydebank, today they wanted to see Men In Black 3, which was pretty much as you would expect it to be, good fun but you'll not be rushing off to buy the DVD to re-watch it. On getting home we checked out what we could see in the West End Festival, and as the Cottiers Chamber Project offers free entry for under 16s we plumped for that.

Solway Trio in Cottiers

Today's offering was four pieces performed by the Solway Trio on flute, viola and harp. That combination of instruments conjured up something folky to my mind, but apparently Debussy first thought of putting them together. All I know of Debussy really is a line in a Pet Shop Boys song so this'd be something new. The first piece was by Richard Rodney Bennett, which was pleasant enough and quite cinematic. The next was by Toru Takemitsu, inspired by a poem by Emily Dickinson and was calm and quiet, and to be honest a wee bit dull. The biggest disappointment for me was the piece by Sally Beamish, Between Earth and Sea as in my unknowing head a harp, flute and viola (or fiddle) playing something which is based on a Gaelic song I thought would be a bit upbeat and heedrum hodrum, but the title should have given me the clue that it is based on a Gaelic keen, or mourning song, so again a subdued, quiet piece. Finally Debussy's Sonata for flute, viola and harp, which in Debussy's own words is "melancholy". This piece was head and shoulders above the others, rhythmic, pacey, the melody ebbing and flowing from the flute to the viola, which I liked very much. This was the least melancholic piece of the evening and a good way to end.

Now. Next I need to decide what to do in Glasgow this Friday. Andrew Bird at the Fruitmarket, Momus at CCA, watch an olympic torch arrive or the opening games of Euro 2012? Oh, or Kes is on at the Grosvenor, be nice to see that on the big screen.

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