The Cottier Theatre is situated in the heart of Glasgow’s vibrant West End, close to the University of Glasgow. Formerly Dowanhill Church, the building was completed in 1865 to a design by the gifted architect William Leiper, a master of the neo-Gothic style.
Its unusual interior decoration, incorporating hand-painted and stencilled patterns of bold colour and conception, and complementary stained glass, were the creation of the influential artist and designer Daniel Cottier, a major pioneer of the Aesthetic Movement, whose work was exhibited at the Paris International Exhibition in 1867. He was also associated with William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement.
Since 1984 the building has been managed by the Four Acres Charitable Trust who embarked on a major, and continuing, restoration programme. This has included renovation of the fine pipe organ by Henry Willis & Sons.
The Cottier Theatre is now well-established with a lively mixed programme of theatre, dance and music, complemented by popular bar and restaurant facilities housed in the adjacent former church hall, and is an important venue during Glasgow’s annual West End Festival in June.
However, chamber music was an entirely innovative concept at the time Music-Makers launched its first concert series there in July 1995. We, in turn, had been excited by the possibilities after attending performances by Opera on a Shoestring. The Theatre was then in a fairly rough state but we recognized that the space offered a wonderful opportunity to bring audiences and players into more intimate contact in the true spirit of chamber music, as well as to attract new, younger audiences and to refresh conservative concert-going habits. Additionally, the Theatre is well-placed within an area with a high percentage of arts-loving residents and with good transport links. Nevertheless, without its own concert piano, these concerts were only made possible by the generous loan of a Steinway grand piano by the Goethe-Institut.
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