RLPO opens the new Liverpool International Music Festival…

This weekend, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra opened the inaugaral Liverpool International Music Festival in the world famous surroundings of Sefton Park. The August public holiday weekend’s events have been a tremendous success, with hundreds of thousands enjoying the weather & sounds, and the organisers are now confident that the event will become the biggest in Europe within five years. Here is the commentary on the opening night, from Catherine Jones in the Liverpool Echo…

Liverpool International Music Festival begins with spectacular classical concert in Sefton Park

24 Aug 2013 08:19

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra delighted crowds with classical and cinematic favourites

Liverpool International Music Festival opening night at Sefton Park with Liverpool Philharmonic performing on stage as fireworks light up the night sky
Liverpool International Music Festival opening night at Sefton Park with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic performing on stage as fireworks light up the night sky

They came in their thousands,  flooding into Sefton Park for the  opening night of the Liverpool  International Music Festival.

The Royal Liverpool  Philharmonic Orchestra played a  set of classical favourites in a free  concert in the park.

Organisers estimate more than  10,000 people attended. Liverpool’s  director of culture, Claire  McColgan, said: “The response has  been fantastic. We have had  families picnicking here all day,  getting a good spot for when Sense  of Sound and the RLPO began. The  atmosphere has been great. We  couldn’t have asked for better.”

Watching the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in Sefton Park
Watching the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in Sefton Park

Even the weather behaved.  Forecast rain held off, leaving  music lovers to enjoy the concert.

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic  Orchestra chief executive Michael  Eakin said: “We have been very  lucky with the weather all day. It  did threaten to rain a few times, but  somehow it held off.”

The evening begun at 6.30pm  with a performance from Liverpool  choir Sense of Sound. Artistic  director Jennifer John said: “It was  a real honour to open the Liverpool  International Music Festival. The  crowd were brilliant – so  enthusiastic and open to the music.  I loved every minute of it.”

Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra players at Sefton Park
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra players at Sefton Park

Before the show began there was  also a Philharmonic ‘instrument  petting zoo’, where budding  musicians could try their hand at  various orchestral instruments.

Simon Glinn, executive director  of Philharmonic Hall and events,  added: “It’s been a fantastic day.  The audience has been great.  There were people here even when  the orchestra were rehearsing.”

As a fitting finale, fireworks  illuminated the night sky as the  orchestra played the 1812  Overture.

Ayotunde Falana, who lives  overlooking the park, said: “This is  the first event I’ve been to in Sefton  Park that offered facilities such as  a viewing platform for people in  wheelchairs. I’ve been to concerts  here where people would stand up  in front of me. Simple things like a  place where you can see the stage  makes all the difference.”

Liverpool Phil chief conductor Vasily Petrenko
Liverpool Phil chief conductor Vasily Petrenko

Catherine Jones reviews the Phil at Sefton Park

If you want to launch your music  festival with a bang then a 70-piece  orchestra going hell for leather on  stage while fireworks stream skywards behind them is as good a way  as any.

You can always rely on the RLPO  to rise to the big occasion. And you  can always rely on the British summer to give organisers a few jitters.

 The skies spat half-hearted flurries  of water on and off during last night,  but in the event the opening concert of Liverpool International Music  Festival remained remarkably rain  free – with an audience several  thousand strong descending on the  stage in Sefton Park’s Review Field.

 The last time the Phil played the  Aigburth park was in a big top way  back in 1998 when no-one in Liverpool had ever heard of a young  blond Russian called Vasily Petrenko.

 Now, the conductor gets rousing  cheers of recognition – and there  was even apparently a “we love you  Vasily” from one enthusiastic audience member.

 Petrenko led the Phil through a  programme carefully chosen for the  venue and audience, with upbeat,  blockbuster-ish numbers featuring  plenty of whizz bangs, and classical  favourites, the order of the day.

 A couple of less well-known  pieces crept in for good measure –  Shostakovich’s unusual (for the Russian composer) but delightful fairground whirligig Jazz Suite which got  at least one couple up and waltzing,  and Arturo Marquez’s Conga del  Fuego which, following Wagner’s  Ride of the Valkyries, sadly paled in  significance and failed to get any obvious conga lines going at all.

 Elsewhere, aptly for a concert  billed a Classic FM Summer Live  event and fronted by the radio station’s Jamie Crick, there were outings for a robust Bizet’s Carmen, a  bruising Mars from Holst’s The Planets, and a jolly, hand-clapping, foot- stamping Radetzky March.

 A trio of film scores also added  cinematic glister to proceedings, delivering a vibrant, exhilarating sound  through the big stage’s speakers.

 In fact, give or take the odd  crackle and an occasional imbalance  in favour of the strings, the sound  system was particularly effective.

 And as for those fireworks? Carefully timed to the closing minutes of  the 1812, they generated genuinely  appreciative oohs and ahhs.

 Not bad for a free evening out.

 The RLPO were preceded by Liverpool’s Sense of Sound singers who  delivered an energetic a cappella set  under Jennifer John.

About brendanball

Professional Trumpeter: Soloist, Orchestra Player, Chamber Music, Contemporary Music & Education.
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