Back on stage: pianist who played with Maria Callas

A GLASGOW pianist who once played with opera legend Maria Callas will return to the stage after 20 years for a charity event.

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Robert Sutherland will perform at the city's Mackintosh Church to mark the 40th anniversary of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society.

Glasgow-born Robert coached and accompanied Callas on her last ever tour with tenor Guiseppe di Stefano and remained a close friend, continuing to work with her in her Paris home.

He wrote a book "Maria Callas: Diaries of a Friendship" about their time together.

BBC weather presenter Judith Ralston will host the SRMS's anniversary celebrations on Friday.

Leading Scottish baritone Paul Keohone - accompanied by Sutherland - and recital pianist Elaine Gould will perform, followed by a reception to mark the society's achievements over four decades.

All money raised will go towards a new performance space and grand piano in the church.

The CRMS was forced almost 40 years ago on October 4, 1973. More than 130 Mackintosh enthusiasts attended the first ever meeting.

The society now has more than 1500 members all over the world with active affiliate groups arranging local events from London to Japan.

Robert said: "It is now 20 years since I have performed in public and I wouldn't do this for anyone else … Paul Keohone, yes, and Mackintosh, yes.

"The funds from the event will go towards developing a new performance space and grand piano for the Mackintosh Church - a fitting incentive to draw me out of retirement for an evening."

Callas gave her final public performance in Japan in 1974 and died aged 53 in 1977.

Sutherland gave his "farewell performance" accompanying the great Montserrat Caballe - famed for singing Barcelona with Freddie Mercury to launch the Barcelona Olympics - in the early 1990s.

Tickets for the 40th anniversary event cost £10 per person and are available by calling 0141 946 6600 or online at mackintosh. Booking is essential as places are limited.

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