Tuesday 30 April 2024

B & W Celtic PHOTOS

Often photos work best in black and white. Except if there’s not enough contrast, or if colour is the main impact of an image - such as blossom, sunsets …..


The black and white image has a certain impact that colour doesn’t have. Many of theses B & W photos are among my favourites. Theses are some black and white images from this years Celtic Connections music festival Glasgow 2024. 

 Kim Carnie, Lindsay Lou and Joshua Burnside performed at the Transatlantic Sessions 2024.

Ode to Joy


Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ was written in 1823 - and took Beethoven 30 years to write. This year is its 200 anniversary. The last choral section was based on a Fredrich Schillers poem 1785. By then aged 55, Beethoven was deaf. 'We wanted to erase inequality.'    


Beethoven Ninth symphony premiered in Vienna – not only for the elites, but for all people. He cut ticket prices. The chorus rises, evoking revolution – that all people will be brothers. 


Amid calls for Reform in turbulent times of Revolutions. Burns A Mans a Man, or Tom Paine’s

The music has been a rallying cry for social reformers  - from Karl Marx, to Hitler to Stalin. 


"Ode to Joy" 

(literally "To the Joy") is an ode written in the summer of 1785 by German poet, playwright, and historian 

Fredrich Schiller and published the following year in Thalia. A slightly revised version appeared in 1808, changing two lines of the first and omitting the last stanza.

"Ode to Joy" is best known for its use by Ludwig van Beethoven in the final (fourth) movement of his Ninth symphony, completed in 1824 and premiered in Vienna. Beethoven’s text is not based entirely on Schiller's poem, and it introduces a few new sections. His tune (but not Schiller's words) was adopted as the Anthem by the council fo Europe.  of Europe in 1972 and subsequently by the EU.  


Monday 29 April 2024

Crossing Boundaries

Change is inevitable. In the study of Physics there is entropy, which means the general trend in the universe leads inevitably towards disorder. 

Many artists cross boundaries. Sometimes its at the edge of things we find the truths of human existence. Burns (like Dylan and Shakespeare also) lived in turbulent times, when the first newspapers and pamphlets had voices calling for reform and votes for all men, late 1700s. 


Some creatives cross boundaries in big ways. Our bard Robert Burns for instance. His father travelled down from the north east of Scotland, eventually to Ayrshire and he married Agnes Broun, who had a large extended Ayrshire family. She knew and sang all the traditional Scots ballads. While Burn’s father was well educated and taught Burns at home. Burns travelled across Scotland on several tours.


In the National

Lewis Waugh wrote – (Language matters when we talk about Assisted Dying) - that he told one MSP – “the reason he was sitting before me was that someone, onetime had crossed a line and let the ordinary person have the vote. Universal suffrage, votes for women, gay rights, disabled rights, all were viewed in their time as descent into some manner of chaos. He smiled, “One person’s ascent to civilization is another persons slide into barbarity. Please discuss!”


The questions remain over why some of us embrace change, while other fear change and cling to the status quo – even while they can see the present system is clearly not working. They cling to safety while rejecting progress at the very same moment.

(Re Assisted Dying Bill. I much prefer Canada’s term – End of Life Options for Palliative care. We don’t wish to let animals suffer, so why our loved ones?)


The other day I walked past a busy local Orange Lodge, and I wondered for some who continue to celebrate divides over 340 years old (Battle of the Boyne 1690) – their tribe is far more important than any present day problems. We might wonder why many cling to past expectations or the status quo. The UKs Ill-advised Brexit was about ‘take back control’ to past British empire days, that no longer exist here….


Which led me to think that crossing boundaries and bridges is crucial to moving debates forward and to attaining progress from backward-looking ideas. To embrace change. The past should inform the present, but not control it.


Many passages and journeys in life help us cross boundaries – travel, further education, reading, culture, art, music and history. To learn empathy of others stories and understanding of the other: meeting others from different backgrounds. To have open minds and hearts. And embrace the challenge and debate of new perceptions and ideas. 


Most of us who believe, much more strongly than even a decade ago – that Scotland’s future is best served as an indy nation. We’ve watched the undemocratic failings at Westminster. Its a mess. More than that though, the British state is an undemocratic and failing one. Is there is any vision, its in the independence dreams of how we can build a better one, dependent on local voices and not centralized global control. 

Edinburgh festival 2024!


The Theme this year – ‘The Rituals that Unite Us’


“To celebrate the importance of collective experiences  to bind us closer together

To cut through the chaos and noise, our festival will create an intensified sense of shared space, time and emotions, with room for celebration and contemplation.”

To create ritual time and space to resist our modern surrender to information overload.”


Art is still in a position to evoke glimmer of a new for of life.

Director Nicola Benedetti is now expecting her first child. Many feel she has brought an enthusiastic, inclusive and local Scots feel to the festival, as well as respecting the festivals important International threads. 


Last year Nicola welcomed people to the first concert playing at the entrance.


BOOK the disappearance of rituals by Byung-chil Han (2020)


My own interpretation was around how gathering together for a concert, or a theatre show or quietly exploring an art gallery - takes us into a different realm than the everyday isolations of being online. That communal escape to celebrate a sense of renewal together in a large crowd  is a very powerful one. 


Others might feel the concepts of ‘shared rituals’ is an elusive one for many in Scotland. There have been serious divisions over our constitution - but maybe they are not as wide as many feel, when many Scots believe in social democracy - which has not been working well in the British state in recent years.


TICKETS for Edinburgh festival are now on sale - https://www.eif.co.uk