The venerable Glasgow Art Club (GAC) is home to the Westbourne Music series of lunchtime concerts, which usually happens every second Wednesday from October to June. You get an hour of top-flight music with an art gallery thrown in. That’s pretty superb value for £10.00 (GAC members £8.00). In addition to feasts for the eye and the ear, you can buy lunch and try out GAC’s new menu. The paintings on the walls change across the year, so you’ll regularly find works on display by some of Scotland’s leading artists.
As 3rd May dawned, the first concert of the month was Notes from America, performed by the award-winning Scots saxophonist, Richard Scholfield and pianist, Iain Clarke, who hails originally from Arran. Both are graduates of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Each has since established successful careers both in the UK and internationally. They join forces from time to time to deliver piano and saxophone concerts.
For the uninitiated on the classical music repertoire of the saxophone, the concert was delightful, occasionally challenging and never less than superbly performed. An added bonus was the wholly articulate and informative way Richard Scholfield explained the American theme of the concert and each work, including a bit of social history for good measure. There’s surely an alternative career in broadcasting awaiting such a poised presenter.
Scholfield and Clarke began with George Gershwin’s Prelude No.1 – Allegro ben ritmato e deciso. As always with Gershwin, there’s the rhythm of the Jazz Age, echoes of 1930s New York reaching for the sky, and always with a touch of European influence.
The duo followed with three other American pieces, Romance by William Grant Still, Sonata by William Albright and finally Valse Vanite by Rudy Widoeft, one of the first black Americans to conquer the classical music scene in the years leading up to WW2. Albright’s Sonata was the most radical of all the music played. A piece in four movements, it glides from the soft and gentle to the seemingly chaotic and aptly named, Recitative and Mad Dance. It was a new type of music for this reviewer. The ear took some to adjust, but the skill of Scholfield and Clarke assured that attention was held from start to end and the journey never less than interesting and occasionally compelling. The long applause confirmed the audience’s satisfaction. It was also good to see a fair sprinkling of people under 30 in the audience.
The Westbourne Music concert series provides performance opportunities for both emerging and established chamber ensembles and soloists. You can buy tickets in advance (on Eventbrite) or on the day, and all members of the public are warmly welcome.
The next concert in the series is on Wednesday 17th May, featuring the Pirasti Trio – Nicholas Miller (violin), Alison Wells (cello), Jeffrey Sharkey (piano)
Doors open at 12.30pm, and there is an à la carte menu available from 12 noon at the Art Club. Bookings for lunch can be made directly with the Art Club at 0141 248 5210.
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