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Kelvingrove Museum to host a day of commemorations to mark centenary of the end of World War I

Home News

Kelvingrove Museum to host a day of commemorations to mark centenary of the end of World War I

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow will host a day-long programme of events on Sunday 11 November to commemorate the centenary of World War I, exactly 100 years since the Armistice that signaled the end of The Great War.

The museum will open early, at 10.30am, to allow visitors to observe the minutes silence at 11am. Afterwards Scottish Youth Theatre will read Letters from the Trenches, Roddy MacLeod MBE, Principal of The National Piping Centre and one of the world’s most accomplished solo pipers, will play and a male voice choir will join with instrumentalists to perform a musical commemoration of the First World War.

The event is the culmination of a four year programme of events, exhibitions, displays, talks and workshops curated by Glasgow Museums to mark the 100th anniversary of World War I.  The day is intended to allow people to reflect on the First World War and provide a way to commemorate this hugely significant occasion.

Glasgow’s Lord Provost Eva Bolander said:

We look forward to welcoming the people of Glasgow and further afield to join us in honouring the centenary of World War I. This musical commemoration is a fitting culmination to a four year programme of events across Glasgow, which have provided time and space to stop and remember those who gave so much to ensure our freedom. We are grateful to all the artists and technicians participating in the day who have given their services free in support of Poppy Scotland.

Kelvingrove Museum in partnership with three young actors from Scottish Youth Theatre will present Letters from the Trenches each hour one the hour from 11pm - 2pm. A dramatic presentation of a series of moving and evocative letters detailing what life was really like in the trenches of World War One.       

Written with frank honesty and intimate emotion by soldiers of all ranks, plus medical staff who cared for the wounded, the letters reveal in stark detail the horror, the brutality, the compassion, and the comradeship that surrounded their various experiences on the battlefields of the Somme, Ypres, and Passchendaele together with some of the stranger events they witnessed such as the famous “Christmas Truce”of 1914. The letters will be framed by two of the most famous poems of the period - Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen and For the Fallen by Lawrence Binyon.

The words will be accompanied by a soundscape specially created for the day by Glasgow composer Michael Hunter, best known for his music for the multi-award winning Grand Theft Auto game series. Using original sources the soundscape creates a vivid and terrifying picture in sound of the battlefield.    

Scottish Youth Theatre CEO Jacky Hardacre said:

It is a huge honour for Scottish Youth Theatre to have been invited to be part of such an important event. The three performers, from Inverness and Glasgow, have recently completed a year of training as part of the Scottish Youth Theatre National Ensemble 2018 and this is a great platform for them to build and apply the skills they have developed.

There is something very poignant about young voices speaking the words of their contemporaries from 100 years ago. Performing within the Brushes with War exhibition will make this all the more powerful.

Roddy MacLeod, Principal of The National Piping Centre, who will perform at 1.30pm, said:

The National Piping Centre is pleased to be part of this special day of commemorative events to mark the 100th Anniversary of the end of the Great War. Many of the tunes I will play are dedicated to and for those who did not return home, including one of my own relatives, so it’s especially moving for me.

One of the pieces Roddy MacLeod will perform was written to commemorate one of the worst maritime disasters in United Kingdom history.  At the end of the First World War the ship “Iolaire” was carrying troops back to the Scottish island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. She left the port of Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland late on the evening of 31 December 1918. At 2:30 a.m. on New Year's Day, as the ship approached Stornoway, she hit the infamous rocks "The Beasts of Holm" and sank.  205 men perished of whom 181 were islanders. Among them was Roddy MacLeod’s great uncle.

Honorary Director of Music at Kelvingrove Museum and resident organist Dr. James Hunter said:

It is great privilege to be responsible for the production of the various activities at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum commemorating of the ending of the First World War.

It is especially pleasing that actors and musicians of all ages are joining forces to honour the servicemen and women from all ranks, backgrounds and countries who participated in one of the most significant events in world history.

Hamilton Caledonian Bowling Club and Lesmahagow and Glasgow Philharmonic Male Voice Choirs will come together to perform a musical commemoration of First World War at 3pm. Songs will include In Flanders Field by Jacobson and Emerson. After the Audience are invited to join the choir in a medley of WW1 songs such as It’s long way to Tipperary; Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and Keep the home fires burning. In addition to stunning organ solos the programme will be linked throughout the day by bugle calls detailing the life of the soldier beginning with Reveille and ending with The Last Post.