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Petrenko in the Park/Liverpool International Music Festival

10,000 people and Bill Leece are dazzled by the RLPO and its star signing

Written by . Published on August 24th 2013.

Petrenko in the Park/Liverpool International Music Festival

Words: Bill Leece/Pictures: Mark McNulty

RULE number one for open-air orchestral concerts: don't even think about doing subtle. Just give it all you've got and then soak up the applause. Works every time. 

And in these times of equality and accessibility, no one from a more hidebound musical tradition is going to complain.

So it was that the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic kicked off the four-day series of events in Sefton Park not with some young hopeful conducting, desperate for the money to pay off his student loan, but with the Phil's star signing himself, Vasily Petrenko, in charge.

Prompted by Classic FM's Jamie Crick - admirably dressed for radio - Petrenko knew his script well.

A movement from Shostakovich's Jazz Suite was a little off the beaten musical track, but ideal as a fairground plied its trade away to the left

If you liked it here tonight, then come along to the hall next season (or, if not, after it's been done up) where the are all sorts of goodies.

And given the estimated 10,000 people who turned up, defying the threat of a downpour, if just one of those in 20 buys a couple of Phil tickets next season, the field trip will have done its trick.

As for the night in the park, the feel-good factor was in full flow. Film scores from James Bond, Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean have musical quality and popular appeal, and the overture to Bizet's Carmen will always warm up an audience.

Vasily Petrenko By Mark McnultyVasily Petrenko By Mark McNulty

A slowish version of Holst's Mars cut through the night air, while a movement from Shostakovich's Jazz Suite was a little off the beaten musical track, but ideal as a fairground plied its trade away to the audiences' left.

But open-air music is all about spectacle. It seems inevitable that a popular concert under the skies will finish with Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries topped by Tchaikovsky's 1812, complete with fireworks, and explosives.

It didn't quite match a similar occasion in the Cheshire countryside a few years ago when the organisers laid on a fleet of helicopters to recreate the film Apocalypse Now followed by the local Territorial Army loosing off some spare large-calibre ammunition.

Sefton Park is after all an urban area and the authorities would no doubt object. But it was sight to remember nonetheless, and a great appetiser for what will follow.

Full running order for the Liverpool International Music Festival weekend here

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Ray DeohthreeAugust 24th 2013.

Splendid report!

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