Some of the cast of The Pilgrimage at rehearsals in St Michael's Church Hall

Some of the cast of The Pilgrimage at rehearsals in St Michael’s Church Hall.

Glasgow’s traditional Lenten arts festival opened on Ash Wednesday, February 13, with a heady mix of art and faith running for the six week lead-up to Easter.

Now in its seventh year, and having drawn endorsements from the Vatican as well as some of Scotland’s leading artists along the way, this year’s festival provides a series of new offerings:

  • The country’s top brass musicians from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland will bring their talents to the historic and beautiful Our Holy Redeemer’s Church in Clydebank for the free opening concert of the festival.
  • Scotland’s finest Gaelic music talent will come together with presenter Cathy MacDonald for “A Journey through the Hebridean Heart” a special concert which will be broadcast by the BBC from St Mary’s Church in Glasgow’s much-maligned Calton area.
  • And a travelling play, entitled “The Pilgrimage” will tour nine venues around the Glasgow area with its uplifting, moving and sometimes hilarious story of a trip to the French shrine town of Lourdes.

The Festival began with a fusion of art forms on Ash Wednesday when one of Scotland’s best known painters, Sandy Moffat, produced a new work during the opening ceremony while emerging opera singer Martin Aelred performed music from Puccini’s Messa di Gloria. Moffat’s painting will be auctioned to support SCIAF, the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund’s Syria Emergency Appeal.

Lentfest is the biggest festival of the Year for the Archdiocese of Glasgow Arts Project, founded in 2006.

Speaking ahead of the launch the Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia, said: “This year’s Lentfest promises an amazing array of opportunities for people across the Glasgow area to engage with faith through art. Many of the performances will be taken to areas which do not usually have visiting theatre companies or musicians in their neighbourhood. The aim of the festival is to reach out to people of all faiths and none with the Christian message as expressed in art.

“Over the years the Festival has grown in size and importance, and I am delighted to be able to launch it for the 2013 season at the start of Lent when we propose the Christian message anew in all its splendour.”

The director of Lentfest, Stephen Callaghan, said: “Each year the Festival has its own surprises and highlights. This year we are delighted to have the great Sandy Moffat give of his time and talent, and the great concerts of brass music and Gaelic music will be special highlights. But Lentfest is very much a community arts festival and some of my best memories are of taking theatre to the housing schemes of Glasgow and finding there receptive audiences and the warmest of welcomes.”

Full information and programme at the Lentfest website.