Sunday, 22 February 2009

Back on track

It’s been exciting three weeks in Liverpool – full of fun and good news! I’ve been really glad to see so many people in the concerts and enjoyed to play music with brilliant soloists! And, of course, I’ve been happy to know that city will give us the same budget as in 2008 for each of next two years.
So, plenty of pleasure (which is quite rare in February) and encouragement for 2009-2010 season.
This month started from Rhapsodies concerts, quite tricky for conductor and orchestra due to different characters and stiles of 4 pieces, especially Enescu and Ravel, which RLPO haven’t played for quite a few years. But we like a challenge and I think audience in Liverpool and Preston enjoyed concerts quite a lot, as well as Embrace from Kirill Gerstein, our Romanian (as some people think!) soloist )))
Week after in “With love from Vasily” programme we had even more challenging repertoire, in fact, I think Prokofiev is one of the most difficult (but adorable!) composers to play due to strict articulation, balance and intonation problems. But, of course, English-Italian love story in his ballet give a lot of help in emotional side, and I’ve seen even some smoke over the strings in a last movement of our performance! Percussion players been excited by Carmen-suite, and Chausson in a first half was great, I think – by the way very underestimated French composer!
And last week with classical orchestral repertoire was very interesting in term of progress of orchestra, in my point of view we made a lot of improvement since last year (or two?), when we’ve played Classical Symphony last time, and Mendelssohn Reformation was a real discovery and unexpected fun for musicians. Those of you, who missed soloist this week, really missed a lot – doing her UK debut, she’s been stunning, and, I think, will have a big star very soon! And, of course, you’ve missed “orchestra bounce”, which we rehearsed with such a precision ;)
At the moment I’m in a train to London – what an improvement in their Sunday’s schedule, just 2.15 now! Full day of rehearsals with Guildhall and Heldenleben tomorrow, concert on Wednesday in Barbican, looking forward!
And at the end would like to ask you about two things, which are very important for us at the moment (we are at the very last stage of cooking next season):
- do you think current economic situation will have a big impact on the Phil’s audience? I mean, do you think people will try to cut their expenses by not going to the Phil anymore?
- Which day and time of the day (exact hour) is more suitable for you to attend a concert?
P.S. I’ve been quite amazed, how many people read this blog, but also amazed that a very few of you write something… Please, don’t be shy!

62 comments:

Robin said...

Hi Vasily

Thanks for giving some answers before writing this new message. Knew you must be going to do something else and hope this week in London is good. What will you do in Spain after that.

Great to hear, too, that it's been fun and good news for February, which is usually so dull in Britain! I'm sure we are all pleased with the city budget and a pity we can't get better money for music from culture-bashing Wirral Council - lots of audience come from Wirral (and Sefton...)

The band really does play better all the time and one of us should have mentioned their extra contribution with the orchestra bounce - the rehearsal had paid off! All the music has been played wonderfully - just that I don't like the Reformation Symphony. And Chausson is underrated as you say, but not as obscure as you'd have thought from Catherine Jones' odd review in the Echo.

Every so often, we get changes to concert days and times and my memory is that every time this happens the audience gets smaller until it gets back to normal again. I'm happy (and most people I know are also happy) with the times and dates as they are, but I don't mind any day and I think 7.30 is best. I don't like Sunday, but obviously Sunday concerts have become popular for a lot of people.

Of course, the economic climate might have an effect on audiences, but people who pay the higher prices now are likely to have enough money to keep coming. I think it would be a possible problem if it was necessary to charge more for the cheaper seats because people on smaller incomes have less flexibility. But of course we don't know bad the recession's going to get...

Train schedule to London has definitely got much better.

Hope, like you, that more people will write comments.

Robin

JoyceandCarole said...

Thank goodness the City recognises what a treasure we have with you and the wonderful orchestra and came up with the goodies again! It would be a tragedy to see this great institution go under, especially as it is so very much improved - this was particularly noticeable this week. We heard many comments to this effect - and totally agree.

Everybody was knocked sideways by your young soloist, Julia Lezhneva, and there is no doubt we will be seeing her name in lights before very long - when can we have her back, please? Preferably before everybody else is clamouring for her.

We were intrigued to see your lovely family at the two concerts this week. You surely have a future conductor in your beautiful son, who not only behaved impeccably with a remarkable attention span for one so young but showed every sign of following in your footsteps by his obvious enjoyment of the music.

Regarding your two queries, the way we see it is that the well-heeled will somehow manage to keep up their attendances(even though the "credit crunch" affects them too), but now that there has been a noticeable upsurge in young people's interest it would be a great pity to lose the Phil's future audience. Our own experience was that, with each hike in price we have had to "downsize" our seat in order to afford them whilst still being reluctant to miss any. More downgrading and we will still come (you can't keep us away!) but we may have to have seats in the foyer!!

It would be more convenient, and less of a rush for people like us who have to travel on public transport from St Helens, and for those who are working or experience difficulty in parking the car, if the concerts would commence a little later (say, 7.45) as we see, almost every week, people having to come in after the first piece which is a great pity.

Looking forward to what you will cook up for us for the next season and we'll keep on saving our pennies and raid our piggy banks!
You've got at least two die-hard attenders to rely on!

Naicisum (musician) said...

Vasily: thank you for your comment it really made me smile after a long day involving Maths and Physics test buta nice Bach Chorale harmonisation in the middle to keep me sane!!

I have played the Carmen Suite with the Lancashire Youth Symphony Orchestra and I have to say it was one of the best peice I played wiht them, along withthe Dvorjak Symph #9!!

Is there a particular "path" that you would use to start conducting I have been thinking about this for a while as a medical condition with my wrists stopped me playing vioin with the orchestra, and flute seats are so rare!! Any help on this would be appriciated!

I think that the Phil might see a few less people than they have done but I personally wouldn't want to give up going to the concerts (horay for student tickets!!)the Tuesday night concerts in Preston are good eiterh at 1930 or 1945 so people have time to get there!!

Naicisum

Karen said...

Hello everyone,

I'm new to blogging but have been reading this one for a while and have just plucked up courage to come out of the shadows. I'll introduce myself briefly first.

I'm a 22 year old student of History and freelance journalism, living in Bootle, and have been going to Phil concerts with my parents for the last 18 months now. My first was 2007s' White Nights, the most recent last Thursdays' Rossiniana and my favourite so far Thursday before lasts' Rhapsody. We try to go 3-4 times a year but any more than that is difficult.

Which brings me to Vasilys' questions. We think the Phils' ticket prices are much better than many theatre ones. The under-25 discount is very considerate. As Robin said those who can afford to go regularly will probably be able to continue, especially if they are members, but for others it may be a luxury too far. It'll all depend on how severe the recession becomes. But cheaper tickets and/or more discounts will always be welcome by everyone!.

I prefer evening concerts and 7:30 is fine with us, coming and going by taxi (public transport round here is unpredictable at that time and we don't drive).

Robin asked what pieces people would most like to hear in the future. My choices are Ravels' Bolero, Chopins' Grand Polonaise brillante, Gershswins' Piano Concerto in F, more violin-led works (I'm attempting to learn to play the violin but have currently only got as far as a ponderous rendition of Pachebels' Canon) and classical film music.

One question - what is orchestra bounce?.

Our next concerts will be the Pictures at an Exhibition in May and Julys' White Nights.

We're really looking forward to them and, Vasily, I hope Mrs. and little Petrenko had a great time on Thursday!.

Jane. said...

Hi all. Horray another student! So am I- are you at Liverpool Uni? I am also 22 and I am doing a Masters in research methodology, which is very (very) boring! However, if it leads to a Ph.d then I am happy.

I've been going to the phil for nearly three years after I won free tickets for a sunday concert, which was conducted by Libor Pesek. I think that's still one of my favourite concerts.

By the way, thank you Jill and Robin for your comments.I knew Valentine's Day wasn't for me this year, as I was selling roses to a male customer and I got a thorn stuck in my little finger!

I enjoyed yesterday's concert very much and I thought Julia Lezhneva was very talented. Hopefully I might (god willing) be a student for another three years, so the cost of the tickets are no problem for me.

Best wishes

Jane.

Robin said...

Hello again everyone

Great to have so many new and returned commentators! And students too - if you are all young there's the hope for audiences of the future. In fact, several London critics have said how good it is to see young people in Liverpool audiences. Please keep coming, and Phil, keep providing the concessions!

So far, we all seem very agreed on prices of tickets and times of concerts, but I wouldn't mind Joyce and Carole's suggestion (supported by Naisicum) of 7.45 if that made it easier for people coming from longer distances.

Nice to know the music that Naisicum likes and ideas for the orchestra from Karen. Sure some of these will come up! And hope Naisicum finds a musical pathway.

Karen asked about the orchestra 'bounce', which they did last week. Never experienced anything like it before and it's difficult describe, but the orchestra bounced! Don't think it's a standard thing!

Jane - it's really bad having to work in the evening on Valentine's Day and get a thorn in your finger!

Wonderful to see such a positive review of last Thursday by Alfred Hickling in today's Guardian. Glad to say he seem to confirm what we all thought and to confirm Vasily's assessment of the orchestra's improvement since they'd last played Prokofiev's Classical Symphony. Hickling also like all of us very impressed with Julia Lezhneva - his descrition of her as a 'porcelain figurine' is a bit more elegant than my own try at 'tiny china doll'. And he gives well-deserved praise to the excellent Cormac Henry.

Jane: if your first Phil concert was conducted by Libor, are you going this week? It's always great to see him - just like Vasily, he was a saviour of the Phil and always gets a good performance. And, of course, the most enthusiastic Tasmin Little is always good to hear.

Robin

Jane. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jane. said...

Hi Robin. Thanks for your comment. Yes, I am going to 'libor classics' on Thursday. It will be a relief from four hours of learning statistics on the computer.

About Valentine's Day, never mind! I was already in pain before the thorn incident, as I went fencing on the Tuesday at the university's gym and after 45 minutes of the session, I was in hospital! Hope you enjoy the concert on Thursday.

All the best

Jane.

jill said...

hello everyone. How fabulous to find eight comments already!

I was glad to see the good news about funding - well done Liverpool. I don't know about Sefton, but I do know that many in north sefton are very snobby about Liverpool - they think they should live in Lancashire and can't stand being part of Merseyside. Whether that attitude permeates the council chamber, not sure, but they seem to concentrate all their efforts on Southport, so possibly it does.

I wrote about Sunday's concert on the Capitol Hill blog, but echo everyone else's view - it was excellent and the singer not only sounded, but looked divine in her beautiful dress.

Ticket prices are not a problem for me. I am lucky (?) to be disabled and I get a discount of 50% on TWO tickets - it is hugely generous, but I do my bit by attending twice as many concerts as I would at full price. I am extremely appreciative of the Phil's benevolence.

I agree with others that the better seats will continue to sell, but that discounts need to continue to be attractive in order to attract the young and those with less available cash. Everything is "on sale" at the moment and I think there has to be an element of that at the Phil too, certainly in the short term.

I also think that promotion is important and (my usual soapbox) I think the press could do a lot more to help. The management of the Phil should somehow persuade the Daily Post and Echo to extend and broaden their reportage of the RLPO and Philharmonic Hall. Pictures are rare, the reviews make the place sound highbrow and stuffy, there is never anything about the educational work, family concerts, the new rehearsal place, recordings, soloists and guests. How about some vox pop from the audience as they leave? Make the place sound as inviting and exciting as it is! I don't feel that people who don't attend the Phil will necessarily look at the website, but they may well be attracted by more enthusiastic pre-concert press. Can the Marketing Department start bombarding the Daily Post and Echo? What about more interviews on Radio Merseyside and City - not the management, but maybe orchestra members? The audience can help here - maybe we should be bombarding the paper with positive comments!

Someone mentioned theatre tickets. One reason why the Phil needs a more exciting press is that for £30 at the theatre, you get music, acting, colour and >two hours of entertainment. Non-attenders see the Phil as "sitting and listening to an orchestra" it doesn't sound exciting and it isn't exciting until you experience it! We have to get that across.

Concert times are OK with me. I think either 7.30 or 7.45 is fine. There are enough restaurants in Hope Street to accommodate anyone wanting to eat before or after, so no need to hang around after work. Finish time is good for those using public transport. Are there posters in Bold Street, the route of train travellers?

I attend concerts on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays and have no problem with any of those. I rehearse with a choir on Fridays, so if there are any plans to perform on Fridays, please make them repeats!!

Vasily, enjoy the Barbican and then have some lovely time off, hopefully doing something completely different!

When I mentioned "spontaneous" I wasn't thinking of more conducting, but something like "Let's fly to Paris for the weekend" or "Let's go to Disneyland" - "oops! sorry can't go, as I haven't got a free Saturday for the next two years."

Already looking forward to your return and many thanks for answering so many of our questions. Don't you have a personal assistant to prepare your concert clothes? If you advertise the position, you will have every pretty, young thing from miles around and half the housewives of Merseyside applying - most of them willing to do it for free too!

It's fabulous to see so many comments the blog, hope you all stay in touch.

Jill

Karen said...

Hi all,

Jane, I'm not at Liverpool Uni, my studying for a BA (Hons) History is part-time with the Open University. Two part-time courses are adding up to full-time study at the moment. Afterwards I'll be looking for a part-time job, which has been easier said than done so far. Thanks for the welcome and I hope you're recovering from your battle wounds!.

Robin, thank you for the attempted 'bounce' explanation. My mum said she saw something but I completly missed it, possibly because I forgot my glasses and couldn't watch the orchestra without getting a headache!.

Jane. said...

Hi, Karen thanks for your comment. Good luck with your course! The dissertation can be a bit hard going, such as the word count! About the orchestra bounce, I thought it was something similar to Danny Boyle's oscar acceptance speech (as in bouncing around the stage)! However, I have never seen it.

All the best

Jane.

Gerald Ginther said...

Sorry Vasilly but you haven't replied to my question about Gliere.
Do you rate his music?

Naicisum (musician) said...

Hi,

If anyone gets Muso magazine there is an artical on Vasily we discussed it in music today !!!! dunno why it beats listening to chromatic chords!!

Robin said...

Hello Vasily and Everyone

I take Jill's comment about Southport and actually the non-Liverpool councils have got better over the years, but they really do need to get better still! And interesting to read other comments - look forward to Vasily's response when he has a chance.

Thanks to Naisicum for bringing the Muso feature to our attention - couldn't find it on the web, so will see if I can find a paper copy.

Hope Vasily can say something in response to Gerald's question about Gliere, who I see was Russian (Glier) rather than French as I'd always thought. I don't know any Gliere, so must try to listen to some...

By the way, Vasily, you may not look again at Near the Capitol Hill, so just to say that someone called Colin who was on a train with you has left a message there.
Hope concerts in London went well - think I saw you walking along Church Street yesterday, so a quick visit to Liverpool before Spain? Have bought your new recording of Shostakovich Symphony 11 today and am looking forward to listening to it. Also looking forward to you concerts in Liverpool at the end of March.

Enjoyed Libor's Classics last week a lot and good to see Libor back with the band playing well. Rather an 'old-fashioned' programme in some ways, but a good performance of Brahms and Tasmin Little is always enjoyable to listen to.

Robin

Naicisum (musician) said...

the muso article is not very good but still....if you do get hold of a paper copy of muso smell it it smells really nice its how we tell that the music depatrment muso's have arrived the entire department smells like them

Robin said...

Hi

Still haven't found a paper copy of Muso Naisicum, but will remember to smell it if I get a copy! Will be interesting to see even if it's not very good.

Listened last night to the new recording by Vasily and the Phil of Shostakovich's 11th Symphony. Not one that I'm very familiar with, but riveting music and am looking forward to knowing it better. Also to the rest of the recordings of all the other symphonies when they come and in the meantime to the performance of the 8th in Liverpool later his month.

Everyone: if you've got £6.00, do buy the new disc (on Naxos). In HMV at the moment if you buy 3 x £6.00 Naxos discs you get them for £15.00 instead of £18.00, so you could get Vasily and the Phil doing Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony and Liszt Piano Concertos (with rising star Eldar Nebolsin as soloist)! All excellent - and I'm not on commission for Naxos...

Robin

jill said...

Hi everyone, have been to Cornerstone this evening to see 10/10, excellent programme, except I wasn't sure about the acoustic guitar in the final piece. It's great being so close to the musicians, they all look much younger and slimmer than at the Phil (don't understand why that is).

I have booked my first ever family concert on 18 April when I am taking my niece and her children (age 5, 7 and 9)to the outer space concert. We are in a box and they are all very excited. They don't live in Liverpool and this is the first time they have seen a large orchestra. The older two are learning instruments (piano, recorder (soon to be clarinet) guitar and tenor horn. The 5 year old wants a drum kit - we are ignoring him for now!

Robin, I read about the new Naxos recording deal, but had forgotten it until you mentioned the new CD. I shall get that and the others when they come out. I began collecting RLPO CDs when they started the RLPO Live label, so have quite a few.

It was good to hear from Vasily that many people read the blog, although very few write. Hopefully the recent posts will encourage more to join in.

I had a quick look at Muso on the web and was delighted to see a magazine about classical music directed at young people. Presumably it won't be found in your average newsagent or supermarket! Thanks, naicisum, for telling us about it.

I am going to the charity concert next week, otherwise look forward to hearing from you all after 18 March (the return of our very own ViP). Also looking forward very much to the updated website.


jill

Karen said...

Hello all,

Jill, you are right about Muso magazine not being widely available. I'd never heard of it before and it is nowhere to be found in my neck of the woods. Its' website looks interesting, though, and there are half a dozen articles in the archive about the Phil and Vasily but the new one isn't on there yet. Naicisum, why did you find the article not very good?.

Robin, my mum bought the Manfred Symphony from the Phil at the Rhapsody concert the other week and really likes it.

Incidently, my freelance journalism course is encouraging me to come up with potential article ideas that may be developed and submitted for publication. One thought of mine is to write about some of the best and cheapest places to hear classical music in Liverpool. The Phil is the obvious one but if anyone has any opinions about other accessible, value-for-money venues in the city I would love to hear them!.

All the best.

Robin said...

Hello!

Glad you enjoyed 10/10 Jill - I always do when I go, but because you can't book 10/10 concerts with the regular season, I often forget to get tickets later! If Phil marketing read this, please note.

Yes, do get the discs if you can afford them! The Manfred is excellent, Karen, but the new Shostakovich is really worth getting. Great review of the disc this morning on CD Review on Radio 3 - 'powerful', 'intense' and wonderful response of musicians to Vasily. Also really good recording quality.

Obviously, none of us is going to find Muso easily, but it looks really interesting, so hope that one of us finds it and can tell others where to see it.

Hope you and the children enjoy the family concert, Jill. Karen: an article like the one you are suggesting would be good - apart from the Phil, Cornerstone at Hope and St George's Hall are a bit obvious, but the University of Liverpool (has its own Orchestra) and Liverpool Hope University also have good cheap concerts, especially chamber music.

Like Jill, I hope that all these Blog readers start to write something too.

best wishes to you all,

Robi

jill said...

Hi everyone, seems we've all got nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon!

Karen, if you enjoy contemporary music, the 10/10 concerts are £8, the Rodewald series at St Georges hall are about £15 each (they are a good mix). Apart from the Universities, there is Crosby Symphony Orchestra who occasionally perform at the Phil and have soloists from the Phil. Birkenhead and Formby Choral Societies are two excellent choirs, who sometimes join forces and sing at the Phil. Liverpool Welsh Choral Union is another amateur choir which uses the Phil. All of these amateur groups perform in their local communities as well and will probably all have websites. There is also an amateur orchestra in Ormskirk (the Ormskirk Music Society combines orchestra and choir who perform together). I am sure there is something in Southport-Bach Choir?
but I know nothing about south Liverpool. Investigate the two cathedrals, they have recitals in the summer I think. St Mary's College in Crosby has a great musical tradition with various orchestra/ensembles and bands. They do an annual concert at the Phil, although not all of it is classical. What about the Bluecoat School, surely they have an orchestra? Widening the search, you then have opera and ballet at the Empire theatre. Just thought about LIPA, do they do anything classical? You didn't specify professional, so hope these help.

I read the Muso archive. Was there a review anywhere of the Barbican concert on 25 Feb?

The new season is being announced on 28 March! I will be there!

Jill

Robin said...

Hi

That's quite comprehensive Jill! And there's the Liverpool Mozart Orchestra (patron Simon Rattle), which usually performs these days at Pacific Road in Birkenhead. Next concerts 4 April and 13 June (£13.00). Can't think of anything else at the moment and don't think LIPA do classical music events.

The only review (not very good I'm afraid) I've seen of the Barbican Concert with the Guildhall Orchestras is on this website: http://www.classicalsource.com/db_control/db_concert_review.php?id=6817

If you missed Vasily in The Guardian recently, you can see what he said here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/feb/27/vasily-petrenko-british-orchestra

Also intend to be at the event for the announcement of next season's concerts.

Robin

Robin said...

You'll all get fed up with me soon ... but just saw that Vasil's going to be made a Doctor of Letters by Liverpool Hope University!

Congratulations Vasily!

Robin

Karen said...

Thank you so much, Jill and Robin, for the suggestions. I'm going to have my work cut out!. It's great there are so many smaller venues and organisations producing classical music in this area. Professional and amateur, they would all doubtless benefit form publicity. My tutor recommends also asking professionals in the music industry for their opinions, so Vasilys' would be very welcome!.

That's if he can find the time - I too saw the Liverpool Echo article about the new Doctor of Letters. Very many congratulations!. What will the visiting professorship actually involve?.

jean said...

Since we're talkiong about the many amateur groups who complement the Phil...

This very evening the Cathdral Concerts Society at the Metropolitan Cathedral are putting on a performance of Haydn's 'Creation' Mass.

Jane. said...

Dear all, thanks for your interesting comments. The University of Liverpool's Orchestra mainly performs on a Wednesday afternoon for free, normally in The Eleanor Rathbone Building on the corner of Myrtle Street. Its the grey building opposite the Community College.

Oh, by the way, good luck with your doctorship- especially with the presentation!

Best wishes

Jane.

Naicisum (musician) said...

the article was not brilliant as it was more about the orchestras and than Vasily!! and was only two columns long!!! it also i found wasn't brilliantly written and even me (a great bookworm) struggled to finish it, this is saying somthing as the latest harry potter only took 6 hours to read and some of my friends still havn't finished it!!!

Flo said...

Dear all,

Apologies for not posting sooner - have tried but my log in has gone a little skewiff.

Re your comments Jane about the local media. As someone who used to work for them, and still works with them on a daily basis, arts is much higher on the agenda in this city than it is at other local radio stations and print media. Editors like Angela Heslop, Catherine Jones and David Lloyd from Liverpool.com are few and far between, and to have them all based in one city's editorial field is incredible. They have to balance their coverage and fit it in with other people's cultural concerns; performing arts, visual arts, stage, screen, cinema etc etc and then again in the midst of news, sport. There are only so many hours to fill!!

Vasily, in response to your query I don't think the economic climate will impact ticket sales. In times of depression or economic hardship a treat is something to look forward to and necessary to pull you through. The Phil is still pretty cheap in comparison to many other cultural activities. I love my classical music but am equally happy sitting in the main stand watching Liverpool get walloped by some average squad propping up the bottom half of the league, and that is spectacularly expensive. I think football is going to come much worse off than the Phil from this period of economic unrest. The orchestra is always on fire, Steven Gerrard, not so much ...

best to all

Flo

Gillian said...

Hello all,
I agree with Flo that the recession will probably not have a great effect on ticket sales.

The danger as I see it is a drop in corporate sponsorship, so it is up to us to " do our bit " and keep filling the hall so they know it is worth their while to keep contributing!

jill said...

Hi Flo - I accept what you say about the press, you obviously know what you are talking about, so I am happy to hear that we are well off in Liverpool. I also accept that Joe Riley admires Vasily and the Phil - but I still think his reviews are stuffy and too technical. His heart is never touched by something he hears at the Phil, he writes as if he is answering an exam question.

I love your other hobby too - I'd like to see Liverpool walloped by someone a bit nearer, wearing blue.

Lovely to hear from you, keep in touch. Hi to everyone else, too.

Jill

Robin said...

Hi

Well, there's obviously a big local music scene - much bigger that we all probably think about - thanks to Jean for adding one we missed and no doubt there are more we haven't spotted! A lot of ground there for Karen...

Like Jill, I take Flo's point about the local media, but still think they could do more. particularly in features rather than reviews. And, Jill, you may not get many more of the reviews by Joe you don't like because I believe (may be wrong) that he's retired. All the reviews recently are by Catherine Jones and, though I know her and she may read this, I'm not sure about her reviews either! She made a totally silly remark about the Chausson a few weeks ago.

While the local coverage is essentially, I still think that getting national coverage should be a priority for the Press people in the Phil. Also, although the BBC's attitude to the Phil has improved a lot in that last couple of years, I still feel they give far more attention to almost every other British orchestra than they do to the Phil. More work for the Phil marketers.

Music is much more important to me than football, but like others, I enjoy it and I think Flo was rather unfair on Steve G!

Also agree with Gillian that we should be more worried about a possible drop-off in corporate sponsorship than people buying tickets. I know other local arts organisations are concerned about this possibility, which is especially important in Liverpool because everybody asks the same fairly small number of businesses for money. o it's especially welcome that the City Council has maintained it's support at a very good level.

Anyone go to the Autistic Society concert tonight? Be interesting to hear how it went. Looking forward to Cinema! next week.

Best wishes

Robin

jill said...

Hi everyone. I went to the concert this evening and it was excellent. The place was full, and I mean full, it was great to see. The orchestra was enormous. the music familiar and the atmosphere positive and happy. Libor apparently had flown over specially and Martin Roscoe gave a fantastic performance. I hope the charity make a bundle out of it and well done to everyone who contributed. If anyone was attending for the first time, I am sure they will have been encouraged to return.

I agree with you, Robin, about Catherine Jones. I think she has been trained by Joe and hopefully she will develop her own style in due course (sooner rather than later!)

Vasily ought to have a word with IMG about his page. They updated the photos, but the Tours tag is pathetic, considering his travels in 2008 and 2009 (hope they haven't updated it in the last 24 hours!)

Will be at "Cinema" next week.

Bye for now

Jill

Robin said...

Glad the concert was good Jill. It's always great to see something like this succeed and, with today's news of direct flights from Liverpool to Prague starting in June, it'll be much easier for Libor to get here!

The concert next Wednesday and Thursday should be very good and am looking forward to it. James Ehnes is a fantastic violinist and more Chausson, so hope that Catherine Jones can find something sensible to say about it. Don't know how much she actually knows about music - as Flo said, these arts reporters have to cover all arts events.

Vasily's IMG pages are still badly out of date. They updated his bio when he was appointed Principal Conductor of the NYOGB. but left everything else the same.

Robin

Robin said...

Back again because I've just seen the most fantastic review in today's Times of the new Shostakovich Symphony 11 disc by Vasily and the Phil. You all must read this and you can see it online at:

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/live_reviews/article5896434.ece

or just search Google 'petrenko shostakovich times')

I do wonder though, sometimes, if reviewers think that Vasily's a great conductor only because he's blond!

Robin

jill said...

Hi Robin, just read the Times review and fantastic it is!

If IMG Artists are there to promote Vasily, they are doing a rubbish job. I think they added some reviews and deleted a couple of ancient photographs, but they have failed to notice how well known he has become and are letting him down badly.

I read an article in the Daily Post today by Prof Michael Parkinson on Liverpool's cultural future. He said the city must "build up the musical offer. A lot of music goes on in Liverpool, but we are not doing enough with it.......the music scene is vibrant but slightly hidden." Hopefully the art critics will read this and get the message. Publicity for last night's concert - and the Phil's generosity - would have been an ideal feature - and good for the charity as well.

Looking forward to next week.

Jill

highgate22 said...

I have attended many of the Preston concerts over the years with my now 86 year old mother.
We are coming to a Liverpool concert for the first time to the Shostakovitch 8 concert.
I'm delighted to say that as a result of our enthusiasm for recent concerts that my eldest daughter is joining us for the first time.
I like to think that she will be a regular attender after the concert.
The economic situation affects everyone but music is too important to miss. However, good a recording is there is nothing to compare with attending a unique performance with other people.
It may be beneficial to ensure that there are sufficient cheaper seats and that the concessions are reviewed.

jill said...

Hi, have you all seen the review/interview in FT 14 March. It's on this website.

Welcome to Highgate22, there is a growing young audience at the Phil, so hopefully your daughter will feel right at home.

Jill

Robin said...

Hi again

And, specially, hello to Highgate 22 - great to have some else blogging and hope very much that your daughter catches on to the concerts (Shostakovich 8 should really be something with Vasily). I agree completely that even a wonderful disc can't beat a concert, but I need music in between the concerts!

Thanks to Jill for mentioning the great feature in the FT, which I hope everyone reads. To be honest, I'd stopped looking to see if they put links on the Phil website because they seem not to add some very good ones. And I hope that the new website Vasily mentioned a while ago puts them somewhere more prominent and has a front page link to Vasily's page too.

Robin

jill said...

Hello everyone. Last night's concert was another excellent showcase. First of all Mickey Mouse with a rare solo for the contrabassoon, the pavane was so restful and then, for me, the highlight was the Milhaud piece. What brilliance from the soloist and the orchestra, it was so exciting. The soloist was wonderful throughout, I have not heard of him before but will watch out in the future. La mer was so evocative I could hear the sea throughout. Fabulous.

The whole evening was special as I attended the patrons' reception and spoke to Vasily and to Robin the Tuba player - to whom I promised to say "hello" on here!
Now, it just occurs to me that Robin the Tuba and Robin the Blogger might be one and the same person. If you are, PLEASE don't tell me, I really, really DON'T want to know! Blogging is great because you have no idea who is reading!

It seems that spring has sprung, so the new website should be on display soon. Did anyone else see last night's concert?

Robin, I have got the new Shostakovich CD. I listened to it in my car, but had to switch it off as I was not concentrating on the road!

Jill

Robin said...

Hello

Glad the concert was so good - am looking forward to it tonight. Did any Preston bloggers go on Tuesday?

Hope you get to listen to the Shostakovich 11 all the way through soon Jill - I've listened to it several times now and it got another great plug last Saturday morning on Classic FM.

For Karen, more on the local music scene. Just by chance yesterday I came across the Birkenhead Choral Society website (www.bcschoral.fsnet.co.uk/). If you follow 'links' on this site there are loads of local music ventures on Merseyside I'd never even heard of. There's a lot of music around here!

Robin

Robin said...

Hi

Having been to the concert last night, I echo Jill's comment from Wednesday's performance. It was all great, but La Mer was absolutely riveting - quite the best performance I've ever heard. Isn't James Ehnes just a wonderful violinist, one of the greatest of the up and coming? Came home and played our only two Chausson discs (not what we've heard at the Phil this season) and his music's growing on me. Must get some more.

A while ago Gerald asked how Vasily rates Gliere and maybe he'll tell us. I said then that I didn't know any music by Gliere and I still don't, but there's a good chance for us all to get acquainted next week when he's Composer of the Week on Radio 3 (mornings, repeated evenings)

Robin

jill said...

Hello everyone. The bad news is that Joe Riley has not retired, he was there on Wednesday and if that concert was worth only 3.5 stars then I don't know anything!

Have listened to my new CD several times now and like it more each time. What a tremendous performance, I imagine the entire orchestra collapsed in a heap after the recording. Would love to hear Joe's view of the CD and then compare with the nationals.

til next week
Jill

Robin said...

Although Joe reviewed this concert and I'm sure will do a review here and there, I think that mostly it will be Catherine now. You'll see she now does the Arts News in Friday's Echo. Joe was as usual discursive rather than concentrating on the performance - and he doesn't know the difference between a frock coat and tails!

I've never known Joe review a CD and I don't know that he could do it very well because he would have to focus on the performance rather than side issues like Vasily's clothes. After seeing everything that major national critics have said in favour of the Shostakovich 11, I don't think I'd care what Joe said about it! He is, after all, a big pebble on a small beach...

Robin

Robin said...

Any bloggers who, like me, didn't know may be interested to discover that Vasily has not only been made a Visiting Professor at Liverpool Hope today; he's also an Honorary Professor at the University of Liverpool. Professor Professor. Rumour has it that he may be going to be Dr Dr too....

Another of the Phil's 'family', Kenneth Hesketh, is also an Honorary Professor at the University of Liverpool.

Robin

jill said...

Hi Robin, I didn't know about Liverpool Uni, they kept that quiet. I was at Cornerstone this evening and it was a great occasion. One lovely moment when Vasily brought his son onto the platform, wearing a cap and gown specially made for him. He stood for a photocall with his dad and looked really cute. Joe and Catherine were there plus several photographers, video etc. One extra interesting fact that came to light is that Vasily's mother is a professor at one of St Petersburg's universities, he was extra proud because of that. It was a special occasion and I hope the papers do him proud tomorrow.

I am really into that Shostakovich CD now, can't stop playing it. I appreciate the performance more and more each time. Spectacular.

jill

Robin said...

Coverage of last night in both the Post and Echo today is pretty good Jill, with photos; though the report in the Echo is by Catherine, in the Post it's by Richard Down, not a name I'm familiar with. The Post has a front page banner with pic, though the story is actually inside.

The Shostakovich 11 is really great, but I can't wait for Vasily's take on Shostakovich 8 tonight.

Robin

Karen said...

Hello everyone,

Have just seen the news about Vasilys' doctorate/professorship in the Liverpool Echo, complete with a lovely photo of father and son in their gowns.

It's very interesting that Mrs. Petrenko senior is a professor. Is it in something music-related?.

All the best.

Robin said...

Hello all

Don't know Karen what V's mum was a professor of; perhaps he'll tell us if he has time.

Recovering form exhaustion after tonight's concert! What on earth do Vasily and the orchestra feel like after a stupendous performance like like that? Words are almost impossible to describe it. Wonderful crisp performance of Rosamunde and spellbinding emotionally compelling Mahler Adagio. And then the Shostakovich 8!! I knew it was going to be special as the tears welled into my eyes right at the beginning and at the end I could hardly speak. There's no word to describe it - how lucky we are.

Your 'friend' Joe was there Jill, so let's see what he has to say. I spoke to him, by the way, and he has definitely retired but is 'reviewing the things he wants to review'.

Robin

jill said...

Hello everyone

Well, I had a cup of coffee in TLCW, but am still wonderfully exhausted after that concert tonight. That might be the next Naxos CD, since it was being recorded. I walked up the stairs in front of someone who said that David Fanning was in the foyer. Doesn't he write in one of the national papers? Hopefully there will be at least one national review.

You are right Robin that its hard to find words to express the impact of his concerts, but the standing ovation was richly deserved. Do you know if the leader was a guest? She played the violin last night at Hope.

Too numb to write anything else.
Wonderful, wonderful evening.

Jill

David said...

I took two of my daughters and my mother. Their reaction was that they were speechless. The lady next to me was shaking after the concert.
I first heard the Shostakovitch 8 from the Kondrashin recording in the early 70s. This was a different but powerful reading which allowed the momentum inexorably grow and the allowed the light in the darkness to glimmer right up to the enigmatic close.
I look forward to the recording if it is to be the next.
The only point of criticism I would make is that the adagio from Mahler 10 is not the obvios emotional counterpart for the Shostakovitch. A work with a more contrasting mood may have been more appropriate.
However, it is a minor gripe the concert was an overwhelming experience for all generations

Robin said...

Great to hear from David, who I don't think has written before.

Can't think that there are going to be many detractors from the view that this was a great evening and the Shostakovich was just awesome. I will also look forward to the recording of this symphony. There are, incidentally, some great reviews of the Shostakovich 11 disc that I hadn't seen before on Vasily's IMG pages. Also some good reviews of his American dates.

David Fanning writes for the Telegraph Jill. He's been very favourable to the Phil under Vasily and wrote the most fantastic review of their performance of Mahler 5 (the best he'd ever heard or something as good as that), so let's hope he comes up with a good one this time.

Don't know who the leader was last night - I wondered myself - but she can sure play the violin.

Robin

Robin said...

Another good review of Shostakovich 11 recording in today's Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/mar/26/classicalmusicandopera

Robin

johanna said...

My son, Samuel, has become a confirmed fan of the Phil! Up to now, he's been to the family concerts with Alisdair Malloy, which he has loved, but his first 'grown up' concert was the Taste of the Classics. He could hardly believe it when you responded to his letter and was desperate to come to more concerts. I was wondering how I was going to afford it, but a few days later, he received his Young Musician's Pass, and that, with the half price sale, has meant I was able to buy tickets for the Brandenburg Concertos and the Royal Fireworks. If he develops the concert-going habit while young, I'm sure it will stay with him. I'd imagine reaching out to new audiences will become a priority - offering schools the opportunity to attend the concerts is an excellent idea. Many of the parents I speak to at Samuel's school have never even considered taking their children to the Phil, and music is way down on the list of curriculum priorities. Maybe more outreach work in schools would help?.

jill said...

Hi Johanna, that is a lovely story about Samuel. He is a lucky boy that you take him to hear music. It's not only parents of children who are hard to persuade. I have friends who consider classical music as highbrow or "proper music". When I take them to a concert, they are amazed. I recently contributed to a new scheme to get more school children to the Phil, so hopefully Samuel's school will be able to take advantage! He may even end up in the Youth Orchestra one day.

Hello to David - was that you who wrote as Highgate22 - it seems quite a coincidence with mothers and daughters! So glad you enjoyed the concert - you chose a good one to hear at Philharmonic Hall.

Hope to hear from you and Johanna again in the future.

Jill

Robin said...

Great reviews of last Thursday's concert in today's Guardian and Times (and in last Friday's Daily Post and Saturday's Echo). The orchestra should be especially pleased by the last sentence in The Guardian. Haven't seen anything from David Fanning yet though.

Interesting to hear about Johanna's son Samuel. I'm sure that early concert-going can stay with you for a lifetime, but equally, many people come to it later and marketing needs to be geared up at all levels. The Phil does a huge amount of outreach, some of it really intensive, and I'm sure they'll keep expanding this all they can. Possibly, though, they are near the limits of resources with the massive programme already in place. The Phil's Note for Note Appeal raised a lot of money to help with this and, if you've got the cash, You can all help by giving it to the Phil's new Inspire, Nurture and Develop education appeal!

Looking forward to tomorrow evening and hearing what's in store for the next season...

Robin

jon said...

Hi Vasily
I wanted to thank you and the orchestra for last nights concert 'Awakenings.' My main reason for attending was to hear Stravinsky's 'firebird,' though I very much enjoyed the first two peices as well. I had only heard the shorter version of the Firebird (1945?) so was hearing the full ballet version for the first time. I can honestly say it was the most awe-inspiring, beautiful thing I have ever heard in my whole life. At the end I felt emotionally overcome and had to hold myself together to stop myself crying uncontrollably!! It was absolutely awesome, a joyous experience.
Thank you all so much, once again,
Best wishes Jon

Robin said...

Hi Vasily and all

Absolutely agree with Jon that last Thursday's Firebird was awesome with incredible orchestral playing, although I thought the Cockaigne was terrific too and I greatly enjoyed the Rachmaninov Cantata, which I'd never heard before. Eduard Tsanga has a great voice. Many thanks to all.

Like Jon, I find myself induced to crying (for joy and wonder) by the tremendous and electrifying performances at the Phil.

Earlier in the week, it had been great to hear of the wonderful 09/10 season ahead, though there are still some marvellous concerts to go this season.

Best to everyone

Robin

jill said...

Hi to everyone. I absolutely loved the Firebird ballet too, but I thought it was just pipped by the Shostakovich the week before, although there wasn't much in it really. I must admit I have never shed tears, although I am always completely exhausted and also exhilarated at the end of a concert. A sort of big "wow"/collapse moment.

I heard the Brandenburgs today (very impressive) it has been a baroque weekend, since I sang in a concert last night featuring Vivaldi and Purcell.

I see Vasily is to be made an Honorary Scouser on Monday, along with several others. I sent a nomination to the Daily Post for that, so am glad to see that it helped.

Next season looks very exciting, am about to post my subscription for 32 concerts. If the credit crunch gets worse, I will have to give up something else (food, petrol)!

There are some nice photos on the Hope website of the event on 25 March.

And finally, I am going to ask a really stupid question - what are those flaps in the ceiling of Philharmonic Hall for? Is it the air conditioning, the acoustic or what?

Hope everyone enjoys the Easter break.

Best

Jill

Jane. said...

Hi Jill. I was wondering about that on 31st. Glad you enjoyed the concert last week, I heard it on BBC Radio 3. It sounded like a really good concert, although I thought the comments made during the interval section was quite funny.

Jane.

jill said...

Hi Jane - the event on 31 March was for existing subscribers who are invited to hear all about next year's concerts and get their brochures early so they can get the best seats! Pre-2006 there were a few dozen people attending, now it doubles every year since Vasily arrived. This time they opened the circle for the first time and I believe there were 900 attending. As you can imagine, it's a mad scramble after the announcements and I never stay to book, but it is nice to hear recommendations "from the horse's mouth" as it were and it is a privilege for subscribers.

I must try to "listen again" to Radio 3 so I can hear what was said in the interval! Hope its not too late.

It has been a pretty exciting time for the Petrenko family of late, so I hope they are all having a rest over Easter, perhaps even visiting family in Russia, before the next US tour.

Jill

Gillian said...

Hello All

I also listened to the 'Firebird'
concert on Radio 3 and enjoyed it very much. Not sure though Jane about the comments in the interval being funny. I thought they were rather nice to be honest!

Jane. said...

Hi, I enjoyed the launch too and I managed to buy the book as well. What do you think? I thought it was quite informative and not too heavy. In my previous message, I was referring to Jill's comment about the flaps in the ceiling, which I think they are for additional lighting on the stage. Just a guess though!

My favourite part of the afternoon was Millicent Jones'presentation. "Everyone with the surname begining from A to Z please go down stairs". I felt that her comment broke the ice and made the afternoon more relaxed. So really her mistake turned out to be a good thing.

Jane.

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