Bye, bye Mathew Street Festival, Hello Liverpool International Music Festival

A new Liverpool music festival has been announced

I have a well documented hate/hate relationship with the Mathew Street Festival, so it’s with no small amount of relief that Liverpool City Council has announced today that the celebration of drunken unpleasantness is no more.

It’s to be replaced by the shiny new Liverpool International Music Festival. The Council says that it wants to build on the success of the Mathew Street Festival, which doesn’t exactly fill me with joy.  I hope that means it plans to ditch the alcohol fuelled awfulness, and channel instead some good music in a more pleasant environment.

The brilliant Music on the Waterfront celebrations of last year show that you can put on top class live music in the kind of atmosphere that encourages families without having to shield your kids from the worst excesses you regularly used to see during the Mathew Street Festival.  I’d really like to see that kind of vibe at the new music festival.

The Council did well during last year’s Mathew Street Festival by introducing a booze-free kids are in St John’s Garden, but the people I saw there were there more by accident than design.  The place was a little oasis of loveliness in the middle of a sea of awfulness.  Let’s hope we’ll see something similar as part of the new festival.

The plans for the Liverpool International Music Festival include the Liverpool Philharmonic in Sefton Park, Beatles influenced outdoor stages at the Waterfront and return of the rather brilliant Fringe festival celebrating original acts.  The event will take place in August, and the Council promises a range of activities catering for a diverse range of tastes.

Part of the new festival will take place during the August bank holiday with events that weekend kicking off in classical style on the Friday as the internationally acclaimed Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and chief conductor Vasily Petrenko take to a brand new stage in Sefton Park for an evening of live music in the stunning surroundings of one of the city’s most popular green spaces. The concerts in the park will continue across the four days (Friday to Monday).

On the Saturday and Sunday, there will also be two outdoor stages located at the Pier Head which will include a tribute to the Beatles and their musical legacy. Programmed by Mathew Street Music Festival Directors Bill Heckle and Dave Jones, it will be a mixture of cover acts and original artists.

The hugely successful Fringe Festival will return for 2013 adding a cutting edge element as the city celebrates its original grassroots musicians in venues which support live music all year round.

The new festival will cost around 40% less than the staggering £900,000 to the city of the Mathew Street Music Festival and will be part funded by Arts Council England.

The change comes following consultation with those in Liverpool’s music sector who supported a new format for the festival.

Vasily Petrenko, Chief Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, said: “We are delighted to be part of this exciting new approach to staging a festival that celebrates every kind of music in one of the world’s great music cities, set in two of its most beautiful locations, the Pier Head and Sefton Park.”

I for one am looking forward to the change and can’t wait to get down there. If only the Council could kindly arrange for some jolly nice sunshine to enjoy it in!



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