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!
We all know we’re living in austere times. Liverpool City Council is still in the midst of making massive cuts to jobs and services following the savage cuts to the funding it receives form central government. And so it would be easy for the Council to cut funding to arts and culture programmes. And yet, after going to Music on the Waterfront on Saturday night, it was plain to see that the Council has made at least one savvy decision here.
I’m not a politician and I’m certainly not party political, but as a Cultural Champion, one of the big issues that concerns me is funding for the very stuff that makes people come to Liverpool. Music on the Waterfront is one such example.
Put on in partnership with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Smooth FM, this is a celebration of a whole host of musical talent and, importantly, a place that the whole family could go to and enjoy.
There were an estimated 20,000 people at the Pier Head on Saturday night and, while the event may have been free to attend, there was certainly money generated on the back of it. The atmosphere was wonderful, helped no doubt by the sun popping out for the evening, and anyone experiencing Liverpool for the first time would, I’m sure, have gone away with a great impression of the city.
We made a bit of a Cultural Champions family night out of it and the acts all delivered great performances, from little Joe McElderry, he of the lovely voice from the X Factor, to Paul Carrack via Jackie Graham and Honey Ryder.
My personal favourite was the supremely wonderful Jocelyn Brown and I confess I may have embarrassed myself by bouncing around in an unseemly manner as she belted out the old club anthem Always There.
Headliner Russell Watson strutted the stage like an operatic rock star and delivered a rousing Nessun Dorma as the sun went down and fireworks lit up the sky.
The Capital of Culture year in 2008 was a great one for Liverpool and I think it’s vital that we carry on the Cultural legacy for the city to continue to grow. I also think that in these dire economic times we need to embrace the things that are unique to the city because these are the things that help to bring people in and build a thriving economy.
Long may Liverpool City Council have the foresight to support the arts and music that run through the veins of the city.
And after all that seriousness, here’s Jocelyn Brown doing what she does best. That woman rocks my world.
Check out the Music on the Waterfront website for more info.
Science Fiction Classics
I came home last Monday and said to my kids, “I’ve got some great news, we’re going to a concert together on Sunday.” My daughter was thinking, “Rizzle Kicks, Rizzle Kicks, Rizzle Kicks!” so you can imagine the abject disappointment etched on her lovely face when I told her we were going to see a concert of music from classic Sci-Fi shows.
I offered to let her off, but she gamely said she’d come with us to the latest in a series of Family Concerts at The Phil. In the end she was glad she did.
The concert blurb invited everyone to dress up and, typical of Sci-Fi fans, the audience went out to impress. We saw little Sith Lords, teeny-tiny Storm Troopers and a particularly creepy gas mask wearing “Are you my mummy?” nurse from The Empty Child episode of Doctor Who. And that was before we made it past the lobby. Even before the concert started, kids were encouraged to try out instruments at the Instrument Petting Zoo and awards were given for the best costumes. The Phil’s Family Concerts are aimed at kids from 4-10 years, but just around us there were nanas and a baby so new he looked like he’d been whisked there straight from the hospital.
Lead by a jolly and enthusiastic Alasdair Molloy, who set the scene by disco dancing onto the stage wearing a space suit, the orchestra started off with a rousing version of the Imperial March from Star Wars. And let me just say, the members of the RLPO were clearly having a blast and had come suitably dressed as characters from the Star Wars and Doctor Who universes. One even appeared to be dressed as one of the three-eyed “Oooh!” aliens from Toy Story.There was a Dalek in the clarinet section and even Michael Seal conducted using a light sabre.
I’ve never seen an audience at The Phil that was so lively and engaged as we were taken through music from the best of Sci-Fi, including a glorious rendition of the original 1960s Star Trek theme. There was a brilliant “Name That Tune” session with music covering classics from The Twilight Zone through to Futurama, via Thunderbirds, Red Dwarf and a spectacular, camp-as-Christmas theme from Batman.
The only non-Sci-Fi piece was the wonderful Mars from Holst’s Planet Suite. Written almost 100 years ago, its influence on music film and TV scores is palpable.
A version of Mean Green Mother From Outer Space from Little Shop of Horrors, sung in the film version with delicious malice by R&B legend Levi Stubbs , was re-named Mean Green Creature (for the kids, I understand) and seemed rather incongruous done here by a middle-aged Scot. But I think I was possibly the only person who was bothered by it, as everyone else was on their feet singing along.
The performance ended with the only version of the Time Warp outside the original musical that I haven’t absolutely hated (I even did the dance, God help me) and of, course, with a take on the original theme from Doctor Who.
We’ve all watched these iconic films and TV shows, but to see this music done by a live orchestra was something special. The passion from everyone on stage and from the audience was a sight to behold. I was thrilled by it and so were my kids.
The part that moved me the most, though, was when Alasdair Molloy quoted movie music legend John Williams as saying
Thank goodness for movies. Without them, no-one would be writing music like this any more.
Here, here. This was a fantastic introduction to the power of orchestral music for absolutely anyone. Even Rizzle Kicks fans.
Check out upcoming Family Concerts at The Phil, including Pirates and a John Williams special, at http://www.liverpoolphil.com/ Prices are around £6 for kids and £10 for adults.
Update – Alasdair Molloy has posted a couple of youtube videos in the comments below to the “Name That Tune” section. See how many you can get before the titles appear! And guess which one I thought was Spiderman *hangs head in shame*