A blog from Chris Bartter, trade union writer and communications expert in Scotland,
This blog is a small contribution in opposition to the right-wing consensus in the media, and will. hopefully, campaign for working people and public services.
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This is my review of the highlights of 2016 . Compiled for the Morning Star (who published it here) this is the original. The Star is excellent at shaping my sometimes unweildy prose into shorter pieces. occasionally however something goes awry. In this case the title of Martin Green's exceptional Flit has disappeared in the Star piece, so here is the full text.
Celtic Connections kept its key ‘front of the year’ role. Lau and the
Unthanks produced a powerful and at times overwhelming concert at Glasgow’s
Royal Concert Hall that showed us where folk music can go when seized by
imagination, talent and technical ability; electronic wizardry fused well with
the pure sound of the human voice.
Songs of Separation musicians come together
Another concert demonstrated both cross-fertilisation and how life
impacts on art. Inspired by the debates around the Scots independence referendum
of 2014, it was the culmination of two years work by ten female Scottish and
English musicians living together on Eigg. Organised by double bassist, Jenny
Hill, it included Eliza Carthy, and Karine Polwart amongst others. Ironically,
although entitled Songs of Separation,
the dominant theme was a coming together of national and regional traditions,
producing new material, particularly poignant when it dealt (as it often did)
with the human tragedy of the migrations across the Mediterranean (Glasgow,
Martin Green's Flit
Migration rang out too, in a magnificent highlight to the Edinburgh
International Festival (EICC). Again this featured Martin Green (of Lau) and
Becky Unthank, along with Dominic Aitchison, Adam Holmes, Aidan Moffat, Karine
Polwart and Adrian Utley. Flit
married all these talents with the wonders of whiterobot’s (Will Anderson and Ainslie Henderson) torn paper visuals and told
us stories of forced and chosen travelling – searching for a place where we
Elsewhere in Edinburgh we saw a glimpse of the former strength of Scottish
drama – with a rehearsed reading of David Greig’s Europe at the Edinburgh International Book Festival – a prescient
glimpse back (forward?) into European crisis and its relationship with moving
The 1916 Easter Rising gave us a number of shows, including Edinburgh
TUC’s dramatic and musical look at James Connolly at The Hub as part of the EIF;
labour leader, rebel general, family man, and songwriter (who knew?). The
centenary provoked one Scottish event after another, including a great new
historical walk around Glasgow, and a new play on the little-known Margaret Skinnider – schoolteacher,
feminist and sniper – whose story was the successful centrepiece of 2016’s Glasgow
MayDay Cabaret in Oran Mor.
Finally, the world of Cuban film cemented the second Havana Glasgow Film
Festival in November. The key themes of music, history, community and real life
featured in the celebration of Cuba’s Cine
Pobre festival. And the look at the key role of the Soviet Union in
sustaining the Cuban revolution – Los
Bolos en Cuba – took us neatly forward to next year’s important centenary.