Glittering night tees up Ryder Cup rivalry

The ensemble of talent will be pitch perfect at the Gala Concert in Glasgow. Picture: VisitScotland
The ensemble of talent will be pitch perfect at the Gala Concert in Glasgow. Picture: VisitScotland
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As golf fans hit fever pitch in anticipation of Gleneagles turf war, music stars will set tone for excellence in hosting events with global appeal, says Mike Cantlay

Three of Scotland’s biggest industries will this September unite for the first time to create a one-off event that is capturing the imagination of hearts and minds across Scotland. For one evening only, the £90 million arts industry joins with the £1.1 billion golf industry, with a sprinkling of the £11bn tourism industry to create an epic cultural smorgasbord of talent.

To celebrate The Ryder Cup being held at Gleneagles from 23-28 September, VisitScotland and DF Concerts have worked with choreographer to the stars, Kim Gavin (Take That Circus Tour, Olympic Games closing ceremony) to create an opening concert that not only unites the European and US golf teams on stage for the first time, but music and the arts from both sides of The Pond to create a T-in the Park meets the Proms spectacular.

The event is set to be an opening concert with a difference, but how important are such opening showcases to the host country? Few can forget the dancing teacakes at the opening of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games or indeed “Her Majesty The Queen” parachuting into Wembley at the London 2012 extravaganza after an encounter with James Bond.

The opening event marks a moment in history. The world stops for a second and focuses on one place. The madness and preparation pauses and for the first time residents of, and visitors to, the host country get the chance to stop and think – wow, this is it – we’re here and this is now. I have been lucky to attend opening ceremonies, events and premieres in my time and on more than one occasion, the hairs on the back of my neck have stood on end as the excitement builds and the anticipation reaches fever pitch.

This is Scotland’s year. I’ve said this so many times, I fear people won’t believe me, but look at the evidence. Sold out, maximum capacity Homecoming events across the country, record numbers arriving in at our city airports, record attendances at the Edinburgh Festivals and of course the magnificent wonder that was the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games which took our breaths away.

Scotland has been the host with the most, showcasing our proud culture, heritage, beauty and people. And the Games’ opening ceremony at Celtic Park, viewed by an estimated 1bn viewers from over 70 countries brought all these elements together in one place with an open invite from the people of Scotland to others to “come awa’ in!” to enjoy Scottish music, dance and performance.

So what will be The Ryder Cup Gala Concert’s defining moment? The European and US teams arriving on stage to the skirl of the pipes played by the Red Hot Chilli Pipers? Scottish legend Midge Ure joining with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) to perform Vienna? The cheer as the home crowd welcomes one of their own – Stephen Gallacher – to the stage? Or the gasps as the Scottish Ballet perform a breathtaking excerpt from the celebrated Jealousy?

It could be one or all of the above, but guaranteed it will be the moment that sets the tone for the week.

The “Brits Meets the Proms” concept developed by Kim Gavin was an inspired decision to ensure the performances will be as memorable and of high calibre as the golfing event itself.

On Wednesday, 24 September, the SSE Hydro in Glasgow will play host to an awe-inspiring fusion of vibrant colour, stunning lighting and spectacular performances for the one-off Ryder Cup Gala Concert.

World-renowned talent from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Ballet, Scottish Opera and the National Theatre of Scotland will, for the first time, collaborate with contemporary artists including Nile Rodgers, Amy MacDonald, Twin Atlantic, Texas, Nina Nesbitt, Jake Bugg, Eddi Reader, Midge Ure and Danny Wilson.

The evening will be set in the impressive modern surroundings of Glasgow’s latest venue, the SSE Hydro Arena, which has already played host to some of the biggest names in the world of music – including Rod Stewart, The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac – and offers the perfect space to showcase this exquisite event.

The Ryder Cup Gala Concert will be the significant, defining moment that we say “hello” to the world, showcasing our country and illustrating our aptitude to successfully host another ambitious sporting event.

The event will cement our small, but perfectly formed, country as the Home of Golf and place us once more in the global spotlight.

• Mike Cantlay is chairman of VisitScotland


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