Previously known as The Cottier Chamber Project, the festival will be taking a break for 2017 but plans to return to a new venue in June 2018. Put it in your diary now!
A group of professional musicians decided that they wanted to put together a group and start playing more chamber music. The discussion took place in the bar of Cottier's Theatre, which they also felt would be the ideal venue, even though it was in a state of renovation at the time. The group decided to pay a tribute to the designer of the venue - Daniel Cottier - with a slightly quirky name, and Daniel's Beard came into existence. A pilot series of 5 concerts in the West End Festival followed, and the group's horn player, Andy Saunders, had an idea...
Working with the West End Festival, Andy Saunders programmed 22 concerts over 2 weeks, all in Cottier's. The ensembles were all from Scotland, with Daniel's Beard acting as the host ensemble. It worked, mostly!
The programme expanded to include 2 performances on some evenings and a series of talks, as the 30 events took place over a 2 week period. For the first time, we welcomed an international guest performer alongside most of Scotland's established chamber groups, with Daniel's Beard hosting once again.
A collaborative weekend with Glasgow Life's resident ensemble, the Pavel Haas Quartet, opened the festival, and we made our first visits to the University of Glasgow's spaces for a lunchtime series. The packed programme of 38 events included first performances, period instrument ensembles, jazz, folk music, discussion, and improvisation.
Three exciting expansions this year. Firstly, the lunchtime series at the University of Glasgow became a daily event, as the Hunterian Art Gallery hosted some of Scotland's leading players perform Bach's solo cello and violin music. Secondly, we began a three year cycle of all of Shostakovich's string quartets, sponsored by a local optician, Currie & Quirk. The third was the inclusion of a new strand - The Cottier Dance Project - curated by Freya Jeffs. High Heart Dance Company acted as the host ensemble in the same way as Daniel's Beard, for a programme which prioritised collaboration with live musicians. Karen Dufour joined Andy Saunders to help plan and organise the 50 event festival, which took place over 3 weeks, using 3 different venues.
Now independent of the West End Festival, though still working alongside them, the dance programme went from strength to strength. The decision was made to continue to focus on Scottish based groups for both chamber music and dance, but also to invite an international group for each discipline as well. The 56 events included an opera, aerial dance performance, a lunchtime series of song cycles, visiting groups from Belgium and France, and the second instalment of the Currie & Quirk Shostakovich Series. Photographers Sean Purser and Mikah Smilie created an exhibition of Performer Portraits, made up of shots taken during rehearsals, which was displayed in the front window of Waitrose, Byres Road, for 3 months. BBC Radio 3 recorded 4 concerts for broadcast as part of the Lunchtime Concerts series, and we were awarded the European Festivals Association's EFFE label, one of only two festivals in Scotland to be accredited.
Delays for funding confirmation and a last minute change of venue for some nights meant that the programme was only launched 3 weeks before the start date. Collaborations with the University of Glasgow's College of Arts, the Alliance Français and the Tramway added to the programme, as visitors from Finland, Serbia, Belgium and France joined ensembles from Scotland in a programme of 53 performances over a 3 week period. The lunchtime series of works by two rarely played Baroque composers was held in a new venue, St Simon's Church, and other events took place in the Alliance Française, Waitrose, Grosvenor Cinema, and the University of Glasgow's chapel, concert hall, cloisters, and Hunterian Museum, as well as at Tramway. We used Cottier's Theatre for the final time, before looking at a new venue for future years.
Funding has been difficult to finalise over a short-ish time frame, and we'll be re-branding (to become The Chamber Project) and preparing for a new venue, so it seemed wise to take a year off and do some long term planning. We don't want to leave you without your fix of events though, so there will be a selection of recommended events appearing soon!
Mark off next June in your diaries now...you won't want to miss it!
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