Arts festival LENTFEST was blessed with high powered backers at its launch on Tuesday 21 February, including the Vatican’s Culture Cardinal, Gianfranco Ravasi.
Started by Archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti ten years ago as he took office, Lentfest has grown to be a major source of creative Christian endeavour across the city from just before the start of Lent till after Easter. It involves all three universities and churches in every part of the Archdiocese.
Said Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the launch: ‘Lentfest helps mutual awareness and respect. It confirms Glasgow as the Scottish Cultural Capital and the city can be extremely proud of this celebration of faith through the arts.’ On behalf of the University of Glasgow, Vice Principal Professor Graham Caie praised the ‘terrific programme of music and drama’ and reminded the large audience gathered in the University’s Memorial Chapel, that the University had been founded in 1451 by Pope Nicholas V, then head of the Catholic Church.
Bailie John McLaughlin brought greetings and good wishes from Glasgow’s Lord Provost, Bob Winter and said: ‘We hope Lentfest will continue to play an important part in the cultural life of the city and of the Archdiocese. The Catholic Church and the wider Christian community play a vital role in this city.’
Festival Director Stephen Callaghan who said he ‘fixed the nuts and bolts’ admitted he felt humbled by the gathering for this year’s launch. He said: ‘It is hard not to be emotional about the great community of good will towards Lentfest.’ After reading out the letter of support from Cardinal Ravasi he said: ‘Never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d receive such endorsement. It is wonderful to have this. But it is also wonderful to have the card with good wishes from a local Father who has nourished Lentfest from the beginning.’
The programme includes talks on the influence of Christian faith set against the backdrop of the Art Exhibition in the University Memorial Chapel which has work from Peter Howson, Richard Demarco, Jolomo (John Lowrie Morrison) among many other prominent artists. There will be music ranging from Scotland’s pre-eminent composer, James MacMillan’s work ‘Why is this night different?’ with the composer, himself, introducing it – to The Hound of Heaven, a six song cycle for solo tenor and piano and Alessandra Pompili playing Franz Liszt’s score of the Way of the Cross with the projection of pictures that inspired its composition.
The children of St Joseph’s Primary School in Faifley, Clydebank sang at the launch to highlight the appeal for 1000 people to assemble at 7pm on Monday 19 March in St Margaret’s church Clydebank and St Anne’s in Dennistoun to pray, sing and laugh together to bring spiritual hope to communities.
The highlight of this year’s Lentfest will be an exhibition of the Stations of the Cross and Resurrection, as well a production of the Martyrdom of St. John Ogilvie, Scotland’s martyr who was hanged at Glasgow Cross in 1615. Written by StephenCallaghan, Lentfest director, he will have to play the main character because the actor preparing to do that, has had to drop out of the production. The drama will be seen in eleven venues across the city.
For full details of Lentfest see website: www.agap.org.ukwhich is the Archdiocese of Glasgow’s Arts Project.
The chaplaincy of Glasgow University is working with the Archdiocese to promote Lentfest – an arts festival held during the preparation time before Easter.
Twenty-nine artists from across the UK will take part in a major exhibition of Stations of the Cross and Resurrection at the University.
The strong line-up includes Peter Howson, Jolomo (John Lowrie Morrison), Anne Devine, Sandy Moffat and Richard Demarco alongside regular participants such as Sarah T. Bookless, Brendan Berry and David T. Collins.
Lentfest Director, Stephen Callaghan explains: ‘The popularity of the exhibition topic illustrates the timelessness of Biblical subject matter and the diversity of the artists will no doubt ensure a wide range of interpretations. We’ve never had so many artists take part and not all of them are Christian so it will be interesting to see what they come up with.’
Archbishop Mario Conti, Lentfest’s patron, added: ‘I am delighted that we have the support of the University of Glasgow Chaplaincy for this exhibition and I hope that many people will visit it during Lent and use it as a means of reflection and prayer.’
Among the highlights of Lentfest will be a new play about the martyrdom of Saint John Ogilvie who died at Glasgow Cross in 1615. A weekend of music workshops will be led by James MacMillan and Father Guy Nichols from the John Henry Newman Institute for Liturgical Music in Birmingham. The first performance of Graham Hair’s new version of ’The Seven Last Words’ with liturgical dance is also scheduled.
Glasgow University’s multifaith centre is expecting VIP visitors next year. The Rev. Stuart MacQuarrie, senior cleric at the church in the Square said: ‘We expect the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Right Rev. David Arnott and Glasgow’s Archbishop Mario Conti. We also plan a service for couples being married.’
Apart from the Lentfest exhibition, Glasgow University’s multifaith centre (the chaplaincy) is expecting VIP visitors. Said Rev. Stuart MacQuarrie, senior cleric at the church in University Square: ‘We expect a visit from the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Right Rev. David Arnott and Glasgow’s Archbishop Mario Conti. We also plan a service for couples being married.’