Before the gallows was packed away, the performance of The Martyrdom of Saint John Ogilvie was being considered for revival in 2015. That will be 400 years after the man was hanged at Glasgow Cross.
The story of the Scottish Catholic priest who was tortured, tried and convicted for treason in the climate of major change in the run up to the Reformation was told and re-told 11 times during Lentfest in churches in and beyond Glasgow.
At the final night in St Aloysius’ Church, Garnethill, the dramatic events unfolded before an audience of around 200. Principal actor, script writer, director and van driver Stephen Callaghan, showed clearly how this man died to defend religious freedom for everyone. The cast presented a moving story that made sense of history.
Stephen – who is also Director of Lentfest, an arts and music festival promoted by the Archdiocese of Glasgow – said: ‘This has been so worthwhile. We have a wonderful cast and crew from all over Glasgow and beyond and of different backgrounds and faiths. Each has brought something unique to the play. I hope the play will inspire people to find out more about St John Ogilvie.’
As the final bows were taken, one of the youngest cast members stepped forward spontaneously and thanked Stephen for how she had been welcomed into AGAP Community Theatre. ‘I knew no-one when I arrived,’ said the 16-year-old. ‘Now I have many friends.’
Many of the audience knew little of the martyr Saint John Ogilvie before they arrived, but they left with a new perspective on the freedom to follow any faith today in Scotland and how this has been won by martyrs like St John Ogilvie.
The performance was one of the last major music and drama events held for Lentfest. But during Holy Week there will be ‘Women at the Cross’ in St Alphonsus’ Church on Monday 2 April at 7.30pm.
At University of Glasgow Memorial Chapel there will be the free art exhibition depicting many different artists’ interpretation of events around Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. The exhibition is open 9am till 5pm. Among some of the University’s own artefacts will be Roman nails of the type used in the time of Christ for crucifixion.
On Sunday 15 April at 3pm there will be Ecumenical Stations: Via Lucis: Stations of the Resurrection with prayers and meditations led by the University of Glasgow Chaplaincy Team, Rev Stuart MacQuarrie, Fr John Keenan and Strathclyde University Catholic Chaplain, Fr Brendan Slevin OP, held in Glasgow University’s Memorial Chapel.
The wonderful selection of events and art works for Lentfest are underway. Check the website www.lentfest.co.uk
One of the highlights will be on Wednesday 7 March at 7.30pm in the University of Glasgow Memorial Chapel when James MacMillan, Scottish composer, will introduce his own work ‘Why is this night different?’ It is centred around the Passover inspired String Quartet No 2 and will be played by St Patrick’s Ensemble.
There are also talks, exhibitions and the launch of the play by Stephen Callaghan, The Martyrdom of Saint John Ogilvie. This will tour almost a dozen community church halls starting on Saturday 10 March at 7.30pm in Glasgow University Memorial Chapel and finishing on Saturday 31 March at St Aloysius Church in Garnethill. It will be performed by people from across the Archdiocese of Glasgow as AGAP Community Theatre.
During Holy Week Glasgow Cathedral in Castle Street G4, will be the venue for three important works. On Monday 2 April the Great Passiontide Works for Organ – Bach, Brahms, Liszt and Reubke – will be played by Iain Simcock. On Tuesday 3 April he will direct the Choir of Glasgow Cathedral in Miserere (Allegri, Charpentier, Victoria, Brahms, Bruckner, Poulenc). On Wednesday 4 April, Iain will lead Lecons de tenebres by Francois Couperin with Morgane Collomb, soprano, Laura Jarrell, soprano and Alexandre Ducene, Viole de gambe.
The Glasgow based choir that sings in Russian style – Russkaya Cappella – enjoyed a recent trip to Russia. The benefit of that visit will be heard at their St Andrew’s Day concert on Wednesday 30 November in St Aloysius Church, Rose Street in Garnethill G3 6RE.
Said Svetlana Zvereva who with Stuart Campbell, runs the choir: ‘St Andrew is honoured by all the Christian churches and is patron saint of Scotland and Russia. There he is the protector, in particular, of the Russian navy. The concert programme will provide sacred music as well as some of Russia’s classic composers – Tchaikovsky and Taneyev – and Russian folk songs.’
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the start of the Arctic convoys which delivered vital supplies to the USSR and allied countries during the Second World War. Between 1941 and 1945 sailors of the British, Canadian, Soviet and United States navies ran the gauntlet of extreme weather, dangerous seas and enemy action on journeys between Iceland, Scotland and Murmansk and Archangel. Thousands of sailors perished on these most dangerous voyages. British veterans wear a white beret and tell tales of cups of cocoa freezing as they walk across the deck.
In tribute to them, the choir will sing ‘Eternal Memory’ during the concert.
Tickets are £5 at the door. Further information from the website: www.russkayacappella.yolasite.com
by Lynsay Keough, photo by Stuart Maxwell
Gerard Kelly was laid to rest today, Friday 12 November, following a requiem mass attended by family and friends at St. Aloysius Church in Garnethill.
He took his final drive past the doors of the King’s Theatre in Bath Street this morning, instead of appearing as the Narrator in the Rocky Horror Show, as he had been billed to do this afternoon.
We know him as Gerard, but it was as Paul Kelly that he was born and brought up in the city’s Cranhill, 51 years ago, where his family ran a fish and chip shop. Kelly, as he was known to his friends, had spent 20 years in panto, most of it at the King’s. Indeed it was the theatre’s former manager Billy Differ, who had met him in that family chippy, who gave the eulogy at his funeral service at the church in Rose Street.
Billy paid tribute to his friend’s passion for life and generousity of spirit and reflected on his loss to the theatrical community in Glasgow. ‘We know how much panto meant to Kelly, we sadly wait to see how much Kelly meant to panto’.
Father O’Brien, who took the service, asked for prayers for those in the entertainment community, especially for those in panto, ‘in the hope that the joy will wipe away the tears’.
Crowds gathered outside the King’s following the service, with the flag above the theatre flying at half-mast and bill posters showing shows from the past featuring Kelly. A heartfelt final round of applause greeted the cortege as it slowed down outside the doors and Kelly took his final curtain call.