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!
Another great night at the Phil with Vasily and the Orchestra hosting The Scaffold, Pagoda Chinese Youth Orchestra, 6ix Toys, OMD, Yu LeFu on dai-hu and Liao Zi Lan on guzheng. A real east meets west, old meets new spectacular.
The purpose of this concert is to showcase the musical city of Liverpool on Liverpool day at World Expo in Shanghai later this month. It was a really good attempt at those opening and closing ceremony shows you see at sports events like the Commonwealth Games or the Olympics and it worked well.
The orchestra held the whole show together basically providing the backing track for OMD, the Scaffold and the excellent Pagoda Chinese Youth Orchestra. A real stand out for me though was 6ix Toys. These are a contemporary Liverpool pop group playing what I would describe as acid jazz inspired instrumental music. Good to dance to or just listen. They played their composition which is the Liverpool Expo Anthem. Watch out for these guys.
Good to see Andy and Paul from OMD back together. Playing their hits from the 70’s and 80’s with backing from the orchestra reminded me not only how good they were but how synth pop can be adapted and what a future it has. Is it time for synth pop to make a comeback as a soundtrack for the 21st century?
A contemporary Chinese piece called Oxbow finished the first half of the show. A bit inaccessible for me but I’m sure will impress in Shanghai. Interesting that the piece was written by Ian Stephens, an Englishman from Devon now living in West Kirby. Based upon the Devon folk song ‘The Forsaken Maiden’ it really does encapsulate what Liverpool is all about, anything is possible in music.
The Phil played some old favourites, Nutcracker Excerpts by Tchaikovsky, Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and the show opened with a Beatles Medley arranged by Jeff Tyzik.
The evening ended with Vasily and the Phil playing Twist and Shout!! Vasily dancing on the podium!!!
Don’t give up your day job Vasily!
Standing ovation at the end proved what a great evening it had been. These things can be dour but the evening moved along at a good pace with plenty of laughs and sing along tunes. Well held together by the orchestra.
Just one note of caution…..a dangerous nutter got onto the stage at one stage. Yes, John Gorman!!!! The Chinese have obviously not seen Tiswas or they would not give him a visa!
I hope the British Consulate in Shanghai have been warned!!!!
My verdict – 4/5
This was a concert last night, 1st October, to celebrate the 18th birthday of Classic FM and a great popular classics programme performed by RLPO conducted by Vasily Petrenko.
The running order was;
Shostakovich Festive Overture
Tchaikovsky The Nutcracker: excerpts
Jay Ungar The Ashokan Farewell
Greig Piano Concerto
Holst Jupiter from The Planets Suite
Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending
Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture
There was also an unprogrammed perfomance by a 12 year old girl from the York Minster Choir, Isabel, who sang the English folk song Ash Grove beautifully, not a dry eye in the house!
The performance by the Phil was accomplished as usual and a special mention for the three soloist, Gabriela Montero who played Greig’s Piano Concerto (by Greig as Ernie Wise would say!), Craig Ogden who played The AshokanFarewell on guitar and a very special mention for Jack Liebeck who played solo violin on The Lark Ascending. This is a very familiar piece but played with such feeling by Jack that it had the audience in a state of enraptured silence.
Two pieces I have not heared before, The Festive Overture was a suprising upbeat and rousing piece from Shostakovich and The Ashokan Farewell was a great example of American guitar folk. Every piece in this programme was accessible to the casual classic fan (in other words me!) and very, very entertaining. It struck me that this programme would make a smashing introduction to the classics CD. The Phil should consider this is part of their education programme. Some of the pieces are old favourites but the Shostakovich and Ungar pieces are less obvious but entertaining also. The choice of a guitar piece was a good one as this instrument is rarely featured in classical concerts.
A great night and yet again a great ovation for Vasily and the Phil.
The auditorium was packed, a sell out, and it ocurred to me that, to paraphrase Robert Shaw in Jaws, we better get a bigger Hall!
My verdict – 5/5