Glasgow Cathedral Festival to return for a third outing

Final preparations are underway for the third Glasgow Cathedral Festival.

Running from Sunday 21 to Sunday 28 October, Glasgow’s medieval cathedral provides a striking setting for this annual celebration of music, art and history, contributing to Glasgow’s reputation as a thriving cultural centre.

GCF began in 2016 as a year-long programme of concerts marking the 80th anniversary of the Society of Friends of Glasgow Cathedral.

Following the success of these performances, the festival returned in 2017 in a condensed, week-long format, introducing art as well as music, and incorporating an exhibition. With over 4000 visitors last year, the new format was well received, so artistic director Andrew Forbes has kept a similar framework for 2018.

In Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s 150th anniversary year, a free exhibition presents a rarely seen facet of the beloved designer’s output. Sketches and photographs revealing his lifelong connection with Glasgow Cathedral have been specially curated for GCF2018 by Dr James Macaulay, a world-renowned Mackintosh scholar.

Visual art is also featured in the form of a cinematic audiovisual installation in the Lower Church. Song for Armageddon was shot on location at Tel Megiddo – the Israeli hilltop city once known as Armageddon – engaging with the site’s remarkable heritage in a captivating visual and acoustic meditation.

A series of evening concerts begins with returning favourites Dunedin Consort, who will perform a programme for strings and harpsichord, pairing the exquisite five-part sonatas of the 17th century composer Georg Muffat with works by Biber and Schmelzer.

Other chamber music includes a performance of Brahms Liebeslieder Walzer by Andrew McTaggart and friends, and festival debuts from renowned Scottish chamber musicians Philip Higham and Alasdair Beatson, who will play an arrangement of Schumann’s Violin Sonata No.2 alongside other works for cello and piano. The Berkeley Ensemble celebrates its 10th birthday with a programme for wind and strings crowned by Schubert’s famous Octet.

Following the success of last year’s silent film, GCF2018 will screen John Ford’s The Informer (1929) with a live, semi-improvised soundtrack. This tale of friendship and betrayal in newly independent Ireland will be brought to life by the score’s composer Stephen Horne (piano, flute, accordion), alongside Gunter Buchwald (violin) and Frank Bockius (percussion).

A new addition to this year’s evening programme is a jazz night in Drygate, a brewery and bar just a stone’s throw away from the cathedral. Alyn Cosker, drummer for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, is joined by Steve Hamilton on keys, Davie Dunsmuir on guitar and Colin Cunningham on bass.

The final performance in the evening series is given by Glasgow Cathedral Choir. War and Peace: 100 Years will interpolate music with poetry, meditating on humanity’s quest for peace 100 years on from the 1918 Armistice.

Alongside the evening concert series, the festival also includes several free daytime events. A series of special tours of the cathedral explore the building and its history – from stained glass to archaeology.

Free lunchtime recitals include string music from the Broen Ensemble, the Dohna´nyi String Trio and recent Royal Conservatoire of Scotland graduates Gongbo Jiang and Wen Wang, in addition to highlights from J S Bach’s six cello suites performed on the baritone saxophone by Frank Liebscher, and arrangements for four bassoons from the Genovia Quartet, who will also run an educational workshop for local primary schools during the week of the festival.

GCF2018 closes with the morning festival service, featuring Glasgow Cathedral Choir, Glasgow Cathedral Choral Society and a brass ensemble.
Glasgow Cathedral Festival is operated by the Society of Friends of Glasgow Cathedral.

The Society of Friends is a charitable, non-religious organisation that oversees the care and preservation of the cathedral for posterity. It encourages both Glasgow residents and visitors to experience the unique architectural and historical legacy of the city’s oldest building, as well as supporting artistic activity in and around the cathedral.