Glasgow’s George Square will play host this summer to an exceptional collaboration combining some of Scotland’s most impressive talent.
Entitled Citizens of Everywhere!, this premiere performance will see internationally renowned visual artist and Turner Prize winner Douglas Gordon join forces with Scotland’s national makar Jackie Kay, and the country’s national orchestra the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO), for a unique evening of classical and contemporary sounds and voices. This world-class concert will take place in the heart of the city on Thursday 2 August and it will be completely free of charge for the whole family to enjoy.
As part of Festival 2018, the cultural programme of events running alongside the inaugural European Championships, Glasgow-born Douglas Gordon will curate a programme that celebrates the rich heritage of George Square as the civic heart of the city, the place where citizens continue to gather in order for their collective voice to be heard.
Gordon, known for his ability and talent to disrupt perceptions of reality through experimentation with time, memory and repetition, was invited by Festival 2018 to collaborate with the RSNO for a Glasgow focused performance, looking at its position nestled between the river and the mountains and its culturally inclusive history.
The performance will highlight how Glasgow welcomed one of the most defining singing voices of the 20th century, Paul Robeson in 1960, when he participated in the May Day Parade. Robeson was a key voice in the civil rights movement, and he once sang for peace and justice in 25 different languages on a tour across Europe, America, the Soviet Union and Africa.
On the night, the RSNO will perform a world exclusive special arrangement - a live orchestral performance of Music For A Forgotten Future (The Singing Mountain), a 23-minute-long composition by local stars Mogwai.
Another first will see Scotland’s makar, Jackie Kay, debut a specially written piece that will lead into an RSNO performance of the Paul Robeson Classic Ol’ Man River. Kay is known for her engaging poetry that often tackles challenging subjects. Her wry sense of humour underpins her work.
Douglas Gordon on Citizens of Everywhere!: “I grew up looking at rivers, the Clyde, the Forth, the Leven – I grew up in Maryhill and in the shadow of the Kilpatrick hills in Dumbarton. Watching the movement of the river – taking you away and bringing things and people in - always fascinated me. This, compared to the magical monumentality of the mountains, means in some way that this is in my DNA!
“I wanted to try and work with the dual nature of one’s DNA. To explore the dual nature of a city caught between the wonderful Clyde and the stoic nature of the magical mountains that surround us.”
Jackie Kay, Scotland’s Makar, said: “A river is a city's soul. I'll be thinking about connections between rivers, how the soul runs deep in them, and thinking about the richness of Paul Robeson's voice, how a presence like that becomes part of a city, joins in its freedom. I'm very excited about working with Douglas Gordon again and seeing what comes of our many ways of connecting....”
RSNO Director of Artistic Planning and Engagement Bill Chandler: “Having the eminent artist Douglas Gordon involved in curating a programme to reflect George Square’s heritage is a masterstroke. We are particularly excited to be performing a new variation of Mogwai’s Music For A Forgotten Future. We must thank Douglas for bringing these two Scottish institutions closer together. Whether you belong to Glasgow or are a welcome visitor – this event promises to make an emotional statement that should resonate with everyone.”
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop, said: “This free performance, taking place in the heart of the city of Glasgow, will showcase some of Scotland’s most talented artists in the field of visual art, literature and music and it will include a world first performance of an amazing body of work written by Scottish musical royalty, Mogwai. The diversity and cross-collaborative nature of this performance is a perfect example of the all-encompassing nature of the overall Festival progamme and I would encourage as many people as possible to join the experience in George Square this summer.”
Glasgow City Council’s Depute Leader, Cllr David McDonald said: “Citizens of Everywhere! will be a fantastic show as part of Festival 2018 – this will be a one-off celebration of the cultural inclusivity of Glasgow and Scotland and it is only right that this takes place in the culturally iconic location of George Square. A free event for the whole family to enjoy this will be a very fitting end to the first full day of sporting activity.”
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