Wednesday, 16 September 2009

New season

Hello everyone!
Glad to see so many people in a last week's concert! If you like Shostakovich 10, we did recording of it as well - follow Naxos releases. For sure, there are plenty more exciting concerts ahead at the Phil and Cathedral!
Following discussion about new hall or improvement of current one, I would like to ask you:
- what do you think must be improved at the Phil first?
- where do you think need to be a new building?
- which style might be a new building?
- how do you think will be possible to find a budget?

64 comments:

Jane. said...

Hello Vasily.

Firstly the seats in the boxes need updating. There could be better disability access such as new lifts; improving the air conditioning or Central Heating and improving the toliets. Thinking about a new site perhaps somewhere near Sefton Park? Or near the current hall?? Finally the budget- fundraising events such as charity concerts?

Congratulations on your promotion!

jill said...

Hi Vasily
I agree with Jane about the box seats (some are positively unsafe) and better lift access for people with mobility problems. The foyer bar needs more smaller seats and there should be a better shop. I also agree about the heating/AC, but that might be expensive if we are aiming for a new hall. Location of new hall, definitely NOT near the Arena and preferably in the city centre, although Sefton Park sounds OK too. Funding - as money has already been found for the Arena, Liverpool One, Playhouse/Everyman Theatres, we should argue that the Phil is being left behind and in view of its growing reputation and status, we can't let that happen. Assuredly, by 2012/13 the Phil's name is going to be even more widely known, so once the Olympics are over, money should be sought from arts organisations, 'north west' promoting bodies, government sources and the local authorities outside Liverpool, but within Merseyside should be urged to give more. They are happy to bask in Liverpool's limelight, but should pay for the privilege. Style - I would say as simple and easy to build as possible on the outside, but with more money spent on the inside ie. acoustic, facilities for orchestra and audience and, if possible, either a conservatoire, or a variety of performance spaces so that 10:10 and the Rodewald concerts can return "home". (possibly both!) Although the current platform isn't as big as some, I do like the current size and prefer it to other halls where the orchestras seem to be miles away. So, a bigger platform, but not a huge increase in the capacity. I do feel that it has got to be worthy, not just a rebuild of the same, but something that the reputation of the Phil orchestra deserves and merits.
At the Globe Theatre in London, famous actors who supported the building of it have their names set into the ground - perhaps famous musicians might do the same for the new Phil entrance. Or there could be a supporters wall where local fans could buy a brick with their name on it!

Hopefully there will be lots of ideas in the days and weeks that follow.
Jill

Robin said...

Hello Vasily and all

Within the present Hall the things that Jane and Jill mention definitely need fixing, and front-of-house something needs to be done to ‘create’ more space. In an earlier posting, Jane had mentioned moving the box office out of the Hall to another building in Hope Street. If that were possible, we would have some more foyer space and the moved box office could perhaps have a proper shop as a need suggested by Jill 9, The Phil does need a better shop, but to place it in the Hall would reduce other space. Likewise, Jill, more seats in the foyer bar might be more comfortable for some, but it would reduce its capacity, which is greater with more standing room. Of course, we are all immediately talking about front-of-house improvements because we don’t know about backstage conditions, which if we knew about them, we might identify as a high priority. Another thing is to see if it’s possible to reduce the disturbance that sometimes occurs from, e.g., emergency vehicle sirens in the streets outside.

If we had a new building, Sefton Park as has been suggested, is a nice area, but I feel certain really that it needs be much more central so that it is accessible from the widest range of public transport. Sefton Park is beautiful, and I’m a fan of it, but it wouldn’t be easy by public transport for the majority of the Phil’s audience. So a new hall would have to be central, and I’m still very much in favour of Vasily’s original idea of the waterfront, not that I’m ignoring Jill’s misgivings about a waterfront location given the traffic problems that occur with events at the Arena. It’s difficult to say, of course, because we don’t know anything about the availability of sites and their accessibility, and we need the City Council to help in identifying potential locations.

A new hall would be modern, iconic and prominent – it should be an attraction in its own right with exceptional features of great distinction. There is no sense otherwise in spending a large sum of money. It should be designed by a major architect with an understanding of concert halls, perhaps in response to international competition. Internally, of course, it should have a full range of comfortable backstage and front-of house facilities; the quality should match the quality of the exterior; and the design should be dynamic allowing for a full range of performance and varying size of audience. It should be possible to stage or semi-stage opera and other musical works, such as singspiel and including dance, in addition to orchestral and choral concerts. Unlike Jill, I think we really need increased capacity – the present Hall has us at the bottom of the league in this respect and more and more concerts are selling out – and lack of capacity is one of the major reasons for needing a new hall.

Jane and Jill have mentioned sources of funding, and there other conventional sources too, well known to Phil management. We are amateurs, so this is a difficult question for us and I think it would be helpful if someone of experience and knowledge in this area like Michael Eakin could talk through his view of where a budget might be raised. This might get our minds going and we might then be able to respond with more original suggestions, which almost certainly in present circumstances would need to include private as well as public sources. At base, if the City Council could identify a good site that it actually owned, perhaps it could donate it, thereby reducing the remaining funding required. Is that wishful thinking? Certainly, I also take Jill’s point that the local authorities other than Liverpool should make more effort financially towards the costs of the Phil, which provides music across the region, not just within the City boundaries.

I hope there are some more comments soon - we seem to be only a few of us again!!

Looking forward to tonights concert.

Best, Robin

jill said...

Hi again.
If we look at the "stay where we are" option, there was talk of extending the foyer bar around the sides of the building and in the recent Echo article Michael Eakin mentioned building on the Phil car park and having a bridge between the two halls which could house a new entrance/box office etc.
Also, with that option, things like the sound proofing and heating/AC will need improvement. I have not been in the foyer bar for more than a year, but if those old wicker chairs are still there, four of them round a table takes up a massive amount of space for only four people. Smaller chairs with no table would take less room, but still enable people to sit. I cannot stand for more than a couple of minutes without discomfort and there will be others similar.

For the option of a new building, I was thinking along the lines of the Royal Festival Hall and National Theatre. Both are horrible 1960s concrete monstrosities, but inside, no expense has been spared - I doubt if there is a better theatre space anywhere in the world than the National. I am not suggesting the same sort of design (God forbid!) but the same principle of spending on essentials.
What is happening at the Garden Festival site?
Jill

Robin said...

Hi again

Very enjoyable concert again last night. Beethoven's 5th is usually quite a long way down my list of favourite music, I'm afraid, but as usual Vasily's take on it was fresher and woke it up for me! Glad to see that they finally got the NYO concert back on the website the very day my tickets came in the post...

In the 'stay where we are' option, I think it's right that the foyer bar extension would be a feature and this, with what Michael said about building on the Phil car park and having a bridge between the two halls housing a new entrance/box office etc., is part of what seems the be the current 'preferred option' as he outlined at the last members' meeting. That would also see a second, smaller auditorium on the site of the car park.

I don't know how you build so that the outside of a building to make it cheap without it also looking awful, but it would be something to explore if a new hall was investigated properly! I wouldn't be surprised if the RFH/NT exteriors, though exceptionally nasty, were actually as expensive as something much better would have been.

I take the point about the foyer bar seating and people who can't stand - the big chairs are still there and you can only get one if you dash out of the auditorium in the interval at great speed. I don't think that smaller seats would make much difference, though, unless the area was extended.

Robin

jill said...

Hi Robin. I don't want any new building to be cheap, but if there are going to be "exceptional features of great distinction" I think they should be inside and benefit the music/musicians. It's more a comment on the funding issue.
I really enjoyed last night too, it was a lovely change from the week before. Are we going to have the National Anthem every week or was yesterday a special day that passed me by? I never sit down until my row is full (I am always on the end) and I just got comfy when I had to jump up (metaphorically speaking) again. Much as I love Her Majesty, I won't be happy doing that every week!
Jill

Robin said...

Hi Jill

Hope we get some comments from other people soon!

Because the Phil is 'Royal' the National Anthem I think is at the start of the first concert of each series I think. If that's right we'll get it again on 26 September and then not again until the opening of the 2010/11 season! Unless, of course, a Royal person decided to attend a concert...

Robin

Karen said...

Hi everyone,

Last nights' concert was enjoyed, but I was also rather surprised at the addition of the National Anthem at the beginning. If it has to be played, perhaps at the end of the evening - after everyone has been settled for a while - would be better. But I can't help hoping it won't be made a habit of!.

Regarding new/improved halls, more auditorium ventilation and a larger foyer and dining area would be more comfortable improvements for the audience (the musicians know best what is needed for them). If a new building was near Sefton Park I for one would not be able to reach it. Somewhere in Liverpool may more accesible for more people but would probably push costs and traffic levels up.
Many funds may have to come from private/corporate sources, but with everybody tightening their purses currently it seems unlikely sufficient money will be available from anyone for a while. Perhaps a Lottery Fund grant application for the present Hall?.

Robin said...

Hello all

Karen confirms my feeling that Sefton Park would not be a good site for a hall - it's a wonderful place, but I think would probably be inaccessible for at least half the Phil audience.

Lovely atmosphere in Hope Street today!

Jane. said...

Hi everyone.

Sefton Park was just an idea I thought up on the spot. How about somewhere in Liverpool One? Or somewhere else further down in Hope Street? Or near any of the train stations perhaps? Hope Street today was very nice.

Best wishes.

Robin said...

Hi

I think we need to find out what sites would be available. Of course, you could pull the present hall down and build a new one there! Apart from people's love of the hall, though, that would mean a couple of years of concerts in unsatisfactory venues with great loss of impetus and (if the last refurbishment is anything to go by) of audience too.

Good review of last Thursday's concert in the Daily Post, but where have the national critics gone?? I see the new disc of Shostakovich symphonies 5 & 9 now features on the Naxos website with release for October.

Robin

Ruth said...

Hello Vasily

So happy about your new contract - Congratulations!. The next few years are going to be really exciting.
You asked for our comments about 'venue'.
Unfortunately I don't feel I'm in a position to make much constructive comment as I lack information and expertise. My feeling is that, if possible, a new building is the way forward. If a site could be identified on, or near, the waterfront which would house a major centre for music, including Opera and ?Ballet;
National/International competitions and events etc etc. and to include a main concert hall, recital/small concert hall,discussion/lecture room along with 'everything else'. Hopefully the design would be prominent, modern, iconic and also reflect Liverpool's heritage. The need for a design team with experience in the development of major world music venues to work with a local experts would be an advantage (?necessary). Whatever happens the venue needs to be in,or near, the city centre to facilitate travel for the many concertgoers who do not live in Liverpool. If a new venue were to be secured, maybe the much loved existing Hall-funds permitting- could be developed as a music education centre for young people (including the very young;the current children's workshops are excellent but too infrequent) Also it could provide practice/rehearsal facilities for Youth Orchestras/Choirs/Bands etc.. It maybe that Music Teachers would rent time/space and offer individual lessons. The possibilities are endless.
Where to get funds for a new venue? -difficult. Possibly: grants, lottery/Arts Council funding; sponsorship/partnership/investment monies; charily events and concerts; public fundraising events; local councils (Lancashire,Sefton,Wirral,Knowsley,Liverpool). With a cutting edge business plan outlining future aims and objectives which befit the potential of music making in the city and the City of Culture itself, who knows what might be achieved!!. I think it is worth serious thought and research.
If, at the end of the day, the current Hall is redeveloped, I wonder how the capacity could be increased - I guess by extending the auditorium back into the current bar area. If the new build on the car park housed the box office, entrance hall, shop, bar and seating areas and rest room facilities, concertgoers would be more comfortable. I don't know whether 'back-stage' has been improved in recent years, if not, it should be. Our Musicians also need more space and comfort. Also, what about the Rodewall Suite?.
It is good to remember that we are having these problems because more and more people are coming to hear great music played by great musicians and as long as I can be part of that I don't mind how bad the facilities get!!.

Ruth

Robin said...

Hi Ruth

Great to see your views and I'm glad to see that you think that if possible a new hall is the way forward. In broad terms I agree with what it should be like and where it should be, and it's good to see you consider continuing uses for the present hall. I think that defining a continuing role for it should all be part of considering a new venue.

You mention the possibility of increasing the capacity of the present hall, but I understand this is actually impossible and that's one major reason I think we should be looking at a new one. I understand that if some redevelopment options were followed (e.g. extending the stage), the capacity would actually be reduced and this would be very unfortunate when we are seeing an increased demand. And, yes, it's absolutely fantastic to see the audiences increasing!

Best wishes

Robin

Ruth said...

Hi Robin

If it is not going to be possible to increase the size of the auditorium then I would say 'go for gold'!

Recent infrastructure investment has helped transform Liverpool and we all know how very successful its year as European Capital of Culture was. The City and surrounding boroughs of Merseyside have so much to offer residents, tourists and visitors alike. The new Echo Arena and Conference Centre has brought many thousands to the City,just imagine how many more would come if we had a world class Concert Hall!!. This would further enhance/complete the Liverpool Scene, and, is only what our great Orchestra and Conductor deserve. Leeds has its International Piano Competition, Cardiff has Singer of the World, why can't Liverpool have, for example, Liverpool International Ensemble of the World?. Perhaps it needs just a few people with a shared vision, passion and determination to persuade others, not that we might be able to achieve, but that we WILL achieve.

I was at a Uni Lecture on Tuesday given by Tim Smit of Gardens of Heligan/Eden Project fame. What a fine example of determination, lateral thinking and involvement to achieve goals!.
Incidently, it is good to see Liverpool Uni. using the Hall for its Public Lectures. I was really pleased to hear at the end of last Thursdays concert, a chap, sitting a couple of rows in front of me, turn to people alongside and behind him and said "wow, have you seen him before?". It seemed that he might have been fairly new to music but "absolutely loved Beethoven's 5 7 & 9". Having attended a Public Lecture a couple of weeks ago, he noticed the concert and managed to get a ticket. I think he will be back to see our Maestro again!.

Ruth

Robin said...

Hello All

Although I’ve been uncomplimentary about the Cathedral as a venue for orchestral concerts, I have to admit that its grandeur gives a fine sense of occasion and last night’s concert was once again most enjoyable. The unaccompanied choral singing was especially effective in the Cathedral acoustic, but I’m much less sure that it served the orchestral music well. I’d never heard the Verdi Four Sacred Pieces before and thought they were absolutely wonderful! It would be great some time for Vasily to conduct Verdi’s magnificent Requiem.

Going back to Ruth’s comment, I’m absolutely convinced that we should go for gold and have a new hall! Of course, though, we can only really persuade the Phil Directors to investigate this option really seriously and only eliminate it if it really proves impossible. The capacity of the present hall really is a problem, whatever can be achieved to remedy its other inadequacies. As Ruth says, the determination of those behind the realisation of the Eden Project provides a great example of what can be achieved in the face of financial and logistical problems!

That’s a great story, Ruth, about the guy sitting a couple of rows behind you at the concert. It’s marvellous to see people discovering classical music in this way and we are so fortunate in having Vasily’s inspirational presence to encourage people and grow the audience. Once upon a time at the Phil, the Industrial Concerts would play the same programme three nights running to full houses: wouldn’t it be fantastic to get audiences like that again? What’s amazing after years of declining audiences is that it now looks as if that might actually be a possibility.

Best, Robin

Jane. said...

Hello.

Last night's concert was fine, however, as I was sitting at the very back on the right hand side; I didn't see very much. In my opinion, I prefer the Metropolitan Cathedral as a venue for the Cathedral concerts. I would also like to thank the gentleman in a tweed coat three rows from the back, for giving me his programme. My favourite concert of the month was without a doubt the opening concert.

Best wishes.

Karen said...

Hi all,

Last nights concert was very atmospheric, my favourite pieces being Vaughan Williams Thomas Tallis and the trumpet solo from the balcony during Respighi.

I was seated in the middle right hand side and didn't see the orchestra or conductor, either. But I thought this gave more of a sense of the music and voices coming from 'nowhere'. I consequently spent more time examining the cathedral interior, which I've never spent any length of time in before.

I did spot Mrs and little Petrenko and I hope they had a good time.

Bonfiglio said...

Hello Vasily,
Heard about your wonderful music making "through the grape vine" and would love to work with you!! Played the Villa-Lobos Harmonica Concerto last night at Teatro Amazonas, the Tcherepnin Harmonica Concerto is from St. Petersburg, but I think the Vaughan Williams Romance would be better in England!!
harmonically yours,
Roberto
http://www.robertbonfiglio.com

Robin said...

Hi

Jane's right that you can't see things very well in the Anglican Cathedral unless you get there hours early in order to get a seat near the front, but I think that the acoustic in the Metropolitan Cathedral is even worse and the pews are excruciatingly uncomfortable!

Like Karen, last night I didn't try very hard to see anything, but contented myself with listening and examining the interior of the Cathedral.

Unlike the hordes of deserters, I loyally went to every concert in the season in the Cathedral when the Hall was being refurbished. I can't say that it was memorable acoustically, but felt I should keep going in spite of that and at least then they had seat rows and numbers, which was much more satisfactory. During that season, too, the audience was faced away from the altar with the orchestra located in front of the nave arch. That meant mixing with members of the orchestra before and after the concert as well as in the interval, which was quite enjoyable.

Robin said...

Roberto Bonfiglio's comment appeared while I was posting mine. Great to see a musician contributing and to know he's heard about Vasily's wonderful work, which is clearly getting more and more recognised worldwide.

Had a look at Roberto's website, which is well worth a visit. He's played with some fine orchestras and conductors and his repertoire sounds fascinating because I don't know the harmonica works he mentions at all - even the Vaughan Williams. It would be interesting to hear some of these, so I hope that Vasily might be interested.

jill said...

Hi all, I thought the concert was magical, all of it was perfect and how lovely to hear music in the setting it was written for. My favourite was Resphigi and I also thought the choir did an excellent job, I could hear every word.

We also saw Sasha Petrenko, he was
"conducting" with great gusto throughout the interval and at the end - obviously a big fan of his daddy!

I too met someone who was impressed, she had been travelling to Manchester since "the American fellow" but has now returned to the Phil and was very complimentary about the orchestra and choir.

Robin, did you see the Verdi Requiem at the Met Cathedral last year? The Met is definitely better for seeing things, but Liverpool Cathedral seats are more comfortable. The important thing at Liverpool is to get there early and sit as near to the front as possible, especially when there is singing.

I have enjoyed all three concerts so far, all different and all outstanding. Where is this orchestra going to be in another six years!!

Ruth, I liked what you said, it made a lot of sense. Thanks

Jill

jill said...

Oh Robin, you make it sound so difficult to get a good seat at Liverpool Cathedral. The doors don't open until 6.30pm and I got a seat on the first row behind the 'reserved'. There was a small queue as I approached, but when I reached the door they had all gone in. By the time you have read the programme notes and visited the shop, the hour has passed quite quickly.I always try to sit near the front when there is singing, but for orchestral works I am also happy with the "wall of sound" at the back.
Jill

Robin said...

You are obviously a much more patient person than I am, Jill! I don't think I'd ever want to get to a concert an hour early, so I'll just have to put up with hearing and not seeing when there's a concert in the Cathedral...

Are you Jill27 who comments on Post and Echo reviews? Good reviews of Saturdays concerts in both papers, I see, but again no sign of a review in a national paper. Pity.

Robin

jill said...

Hi Robin, dashing in at the last minute wouldn't suit me. I spend more than an hour in Rubato before most concerts, just soaking up the atmosphere and listening to the gos. My friend who shares my subscription, usually arrives from work with about five minutes to spare. I got my new CD this morning, haven't listened to all of it yet, but it sounds fab. VP is going to London to conduct the Philharmonia soon, so hopefully there will be national reviews of those concerts (London/Basingstoke)
There should also be something about the new CD and there are also the awards this weekend, where the Manfred CD is one of 3 nominations for top prize.

And, as you see, yes
Jill27 (I thought Verdi was brill)

Robin said...

Hi Jill

Well, we all have different temperaments!! Must get a new CD and look out for the award results this weekend. Vasily is in conversation with Tom Service on Radio 3 'Music Matters' on Saturday at 12.15 - presumably in London on his way to the Philharmonia, which got a 5 star review in The Times today.

Verdi is always brill - I'm not good at getting my head round opera, but have much enjoyed performances of Ernani and Rigoletto. Some great opera overtures.

Best, Robin

jill said...

Congratulations to Vasily and Orchestra for winning the top prize for Orchestral CD, with the Manfred performance. Excellent. Don't know whether your talk with Tom Service on R3 has already been recorded, but hope this award is mentioned. Have a great time in America, Vasily.
Jill

Robin said...

Hi Vasily

Congratulations from me, too, to you and the orchestra on the award of Orchestral Recording of the Year! I'm sure we all look forward to your return to the Phil at the end of the month.

Best wishes

Robin

Robin said...

Hello All

Anyone who didn't catch Vasily talking to Tom Service on Radio 3's Music Matters today, do try to listen on BBC iPlayer. As well as what Vasily was saying, there's also a great (though short) piece on the fantastic In Harmony project in Everton.

Vasily: you were saying quite a bit about the need to get more good players - and there is a large number of long-standing vacancies in the RLPO. Is this a shortage of good players, an inability to attract them to Liverpool, the poor pay of musicians, or other factors? Perhaps a combination of things?

Glad to hear that Vasily is still pushing the need for a new hall despite Tom Service's doubts and those of so many people in Liverpool. It seems a bit frustrating to keep talking about this on this Blog without any reaction, so I think I'll write to Michael Eakin and see if he thinks it's possible to open the debate more widely.

Best wishes

Robin said...

Hi Vasily

I had another good listen last night to the new disc of the 5th and 9th Shostakovich symphonies. It’s great to me that you are recording them all because Shostakovich is one of my favourite composers and I hope that Naxos will think of extending this exciting venture to recordings of concertos and film music.

Until your new disc came out we had three recordings at home of the 5th (Berlin Phil/Bychkov [1986]; Boston SO/Koussetvitzky [1948]; and USSR Ministry of Culture SO/ Rozhdestvensky [1987] and, though I often played all of them, the Bychkov recording was my favourite. Now, they are all going to be played less because your recording has moved to the top of the pile – it’s really moving and explores all the nuances of the music much more than the others. The orchestra's sounding better all the time.

We only had one of the 9th (Boston SO/Koussevitzky [1946]. This is a digital remaster and so it’s not very easy to know the quality of the original, but it’s still a joy to listen to. Your new recording, though, sounds absolutely fantastic and, like the fifth and the eleventh, will be played again and again! I’m now looking forward to the disc of the 1st and 12th, but can’t yet find a release date on the Naxos website.

Hope the concert this week with the BSO playing Shostakovich’s 10th goes well – I see they manage to do multiple performances of the same programme.

Best wishes

Robin

johanna said...

Hi

Re the possibility of a new hall, just looking at how the Guggenheim has changed everyone's perception of Bilbao, I'd like to see something amazing on the waterfront, perhaps far more flexible and inclusive than the current hall, though I'm very fond of the current building. Despite the recession, I'm sure the money could be found providing the hall was shown to be of benefit to the entire city. Very vague, I know, but I'm not an expert.

Robin said...

Hi

None of us commenting here are experts, Johanna, and we need more info to make really effective suggestions, but you share the desire of those of us who want a new hall for something truly striking!

Vasily: great to see the review in the Boston Globe of your Boston debut. For others who haven't seen it, some quotes: 'Petrenko led a gripping reading of Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony that showed why he is as highly touted as he is.' 'The audience began its applause early, after each of the first two movements, and exploded at the end. The “Petrenko effect," indeed.'

Robin said...

Me again - I promise to be quiet for a while after this one.

I very much enjoyed the concert last Thursday, though it was disappointing to see that the audience had diminished, possibly being frightened by the name of Rautavaara, whose music is actually very pleasant. Still, Hannu Lintu conducted a vigorous performance of Brahms’ fourth symphony and Angela Hewitt was, of course, excellent in Schumann’s Piano Concerto, which it was great to hear again at this afternoon’s concert when Lintu commanded a powerful interpretation of my favourite Beethoven Symphony, the Eroica. It was nice to see Angela Hewitt staying on after the interval to listen to the Beethoven!

Talking of Rautavaara, are people also scared of Lutoslawski? Please don’t be and, if you haven’t got a ticket, buy one of the many that are still unsold for this week’s performances!

On the new hall/old hall issue, I have now written to Michael Eakin to request that there is a reasonable time devoted to this, both to give us information and to allow for questions and comments, at the AGM on 2 November.

Jane. said...

Hello all,

I really enjoyed today's concert and I am glad that the audience was a bit smaller (it was more relaxing)! Regarding the new/ old hall debate, perhaps a post-modern design might attract more people to the concerts?

Karl Henning said...

Great job at Symphony Hall this past Saturday! Come back to Boston often.

Cheers,
~Karl

brianrein said...

Robin,

Naxos has quite a few recordings of Shostakovich's film music, led by a scholar-expert in the field who also has conducting skill. You can listen to Shostakovich's soundtracks to "Odna" and "Podrugi" under his baton, as well as "Hamlet" conducted by Dmitry Yablonsky.

Vasily,

You never told us who the pianist was on those Rachmaninov recordings!

David said...

It is an interesting debate regarding the building of a new hall.
I understand hy it is being suggested that the location and the outside of the bulding could be compromised for the facilities inside. However, with great respect I disagree.
It is essential that a fine building be built centrally near the docks if possible of architectral merit which will benfit the whole community.
I visited the Sage in Newcastle a short time ago. It is a fine building both from the outside and from within which benfeits the whole area.
Liverpool deserves a fine concert hall. The building could have a dual purpose and result in a sharing of costs.
As a resident of Preston I have been active in encouraging all generations of my family to attend concerts at both Preston and Liverpool. Whilst Liverpool has been active in ecouraging younger members of the community to attend concerts Preston seems to make little effort.
I believe that these are exciting times for the orchestra and vigorous efforts should be mafe throughout the area to support the orchestra in becoming not only one of he best orchestras in the Uk but in Europe and beyond.
I'm sorry if this sounds impassioned but it is the way I feel!

jill said...

Hi everyone, I feel a need to defend myself. I did not use the word "cheap" - that was Robin misquoting me. When I used the word "simple" I meant "not complicated". I doubt very much that,even if all our dreams come true, we will have money to spare and I do feel that the sound, ambience and facilities inside should be the best possible. How would you feel if the sound proofing wasn't quite perfect in exchange for an extra frill on the outside?

Can I just say once more that I do not want a cheap hall - I want a wonderful hall, with conservatoire, museum, fabulous facilities for the orchestra, admin staff and audience, shop, several platforms, places to relax and listen/eat/drink, car parking and, of course, full facilities for the disabled and those with mobility problems. If it looks like the Echo Arena or Glasgow Opera House then that's fine with me.

I haven't taken any offence, just want to explain my view.

jill

johanna said...

I agree with David's comment about the need to foster young audiences. The workshops are fabulous; it's just a shame they are so few and far between. It would definitely be good to have a building that brings more people in, if not necessarily for concerts initially, then at least so they become familiar with the idea of a music hall being somewhere they feel comfortable visiting. While the obvious would be the auditorium, with smaller spaces for workshops, mini concerts, I'd love to see a waterside restaurant/cafe, perhaps some sort of gallery, a shop for Phil products etc, to make it more of a community space. And more women's toilets.

David said...

I'm sorry, Jill, my comments were not intended as a criticism of your view which I respect and understand. Despite the financial problems I believe that a great hall which serves the community is a good investment. It will require imagination to use such a hall and facilities to the maximum and hopefully be able to share costs.
The Sage was built in part through the support of Northern Rock and unfortunately such sources of funds are no longer available.

jill said...

David, please don't feel the need to apologise. I said a new building should be simple and easy to build with all the money going on the internal facilities, everyone seems to have taken it to mean "cheap" which was not my intention, but maybe I should have explained myself better. Thanks for commenting anyway, but let us now turn our attention to the matter of the new hall - I won't be here for the meeting in November, so Robin it's up to you to ask all the right questions and find out what we can do to help. See if you can persuade Mr Eakin to comment on the blog and give us a few ideas.
Surprised no-one'e mentioned the red shoes from Thu/Sun last week, so I will!
jill

Robin said...

Hi all

First, it was great to see Karl commenting from Boston on Vasily's debut there, and then thanks to Brian for the Shostakovich film music suggestions.

I won't repeat everything I've said before, but I absolutely agree with David's view about a new hall and Johanna's comment about Bilbao and the Guggenheim fits in with this - Jane's idea of something postmodern might be good, but I favour an international design competition.

I'm sorry, Jill, if I misrepresented you some time back and made it look as if lots of people were arguing against you. If it came to something having to go, I quite agree that the inside would be a priority, but I think that if it's possible to 'go for it', then we should shoot for the moon! Apart from Northern Rock, The Sage had massive Lottery Funding, but that's probably disappearing into funding the ever more expensive Olympics...

I hope a lot of people come to the AGM! I haven't heard anything from Michael Eakin since I wrote, but I know he sometimes reads this blog and so perhaps he'll comment if he's able to. I can ask the questions, Jill, but I need to get myself better informed to be able to counter the possible answers. I'll try to do that.

Regarding Angela Hewitt's red shoes, they were striking (just as Stephen Hough's green ones are!) and, although she had on an overgarment that disguised the fact, her dress matched them. How vivid it would have been without the sequinned overgarment!

All the best

Robin

Jane. said...

Hello all.

I didn't even notice Angela Hewitt's shoes on Sunday! However, I am not very observant! For the new hall idea- I was thinking of either a giant snow globe or a giant football so that the local clubs can help fund the idea??

Robin said...

Sounds like a fun and striking design Jane!! The football clubs don't seem to have any spare cash, though, and I'm not sure I'd fancy a new hall as part of a giant Tesco development outside the City...

Robin said...

Hello All

There have been more good concerts since I last wrote anything here with the orchestra maintaining its great form during Vasily’s absence in the USA and Russia. I had visitors,though, and had to give away our Bryn Terfel tickets. but everyone I’ve seen says that was a great recital.

Very much enjoyed the concert conducted by Krzysztof Urbański, who looked like a schoolboy, with Peter Jablonski playing Chopin (even though Chopin’s not my favourite composer). The Glazunov Chopiniana was fun and Kilar’s Orawa, which I’d never heard before, was great – it must be quite a challenge for the orchestra to play, as must be the Lutosławski Concerto. It was wonderful to get a rare chance to hear this and what a pity that so many regular concert-goers decided to miss it. Urbański’s obviously a conductor to look out for.

Not a great audience, either, for Shi-Yeon Sung’s concert with Xue Fei Yang last Saturday and I’m sorry that the audience seems rather unadventurous lately. Here was another conductor who we’ll obviously hear more of and who led a greatly enjoyable performance of Bernstein’s Fancy Free. The Bartók Concerto was powerfully impressive and, in between, Fei’s playing of the Albéniz Concerto was a delight – as was her encore, though I didn’t catch her announcement of what the piece was.

Does anyone else have anything to say about these concerts?

I’m looking forward to Vasily’s return for Thursday’s concert, though it’s disappointing to see a possible ‘thin’ audience again – are people really afraid of Emily Howard?? I was glad to be assured by Michael Eakin that, although October audiences have been disappointing, sales are on budget (I see this coming Sunday’s concert’s gratifyingly a near-sell out) and I expect he’ll also say more about this at the AGM.

I’ve had some correspondence with Michael about the new hall/old hall issue and he says he will say where things are up to on this at the AGM. He also says that, time allowing, he’s answer questions, but he’s cautious about being able to say too much. He points out the complexities of proceeding with either renovation or a new venue, with large numbers of organisations involved in discussions, so nothing is likely to happen in a hurry – but it’s good to hear from Michael that there is now a widespread acknowledgement among important stakeholders that the Phil needs a better home. I’m sure that everyone’s working hard on this and we need to be patient, but in the meantime it will be interesting to hear what Michael says on 2 November and we can continue wishing, hoping, dreaming and saying what we think.

Best, Robin

Karen said...

Hi Robin and all,

I went to the Polska! concert on the Thursday and thought Krzysztof Urbanski did a great job, as did Peter Jablonski (I liked the Chopin encore he played, but don't know what it was). The Kilar was an enjoyable surprise. I was no fan of the Lutoslawski, though!. There were slightly more people there than I thought likely after looking at the online seating availability plan, but it would have been better for the orchestra and performers had there been more. Maybe having two performances was a mistake.

I'll be at the Sibelius concert on Sunday, looking forward to it and seeing Vasily conduct again.

jill said...

Hello everyone. I did not attend the two recent concerts, not because I don't like contemporary or unusual music, but because of other commitments. I will be there Thursday and Sunday. Was the Lutoslawski piece the same as the NYO played at their Prom concert? I would have liked to hear it again.

Liverpool audiences are strangely frightened by contemporary music, shame on them! We have to take care this is not used as an argument against expanding, whenever there is music that is not immediately recognisable, the audience numbers are pathetic.
I saw a phenomenal concert by 10:10last week, the John Adams piece demanded huge concentration and the performance was superb. I think Vasily should conduct more contemporary concerts, then people might attend to see him and start to like the music. I was hoping that Vasily would be able to tell us about the QM2, but he missed it, but Andrew Cornall said they had a tour and the ship is fantastic.

Robin, please ask next week if there is anything we few bloggers can do to give support to the Phil management. Letters to the press? (I think we missed an opportunity when Catherine's long article appeared during the summer). Talking of "few bloggers" there are apparently many people reading this, so would some of you please write something as well. You are completely anonymous, so don't be scared!

Looking forward very much to Thursday.
Jill

violin player said...

HI Vasily and fellow blogers,

Jill - You have persuaded me to join the blog. I have been reading it for a while.

I am a huge van of Vasily and the Phil. I was in the NYO for two years and he is the most increadible conductor. His CD's with the phill are exemplry.

I am really hoping to see Vasily and the Phil live sometime this year, but I don't live anywhere near Liverpool.

When does the next Shotakovich CD come out?

Gillian said...

Hello All,

We also attended the Polish concert and we enjoyed it very much,the piece by Kilar was especially thrilling, would love to hear it again.

We were sorry to have missed the concert last Saturday but we 'defected' to the Empire to see Madame Butterfly. Opera isn't on very often and we are particulary fond of Puccini.

Looking forward to being at the Phil on Sunday though.

All the best
Gillian

Jane. said...

Dear All,

Bryn Trefel's recital was very entertaining Robin, sorry you missed it. The hall was so full that they had to release the choir seats. At one point during the concert, Bryn Trefel sung to the 'choir' audience! During the first half of the concert, someone's mobile went off and at the end of the song Bryn Trefel made it into a joke!

Going back to the hall debate, I am not too sure that writing to the local papers would be a good idea; as other social concerns are more important. I am sure that Michael Eakin will do something positive about the current/ future hall debate.

jill said...

Hello Violin Player and welcome.
Check the Phil website and you will find details of concerts outside Liverpool in the Orchestra section. They regularly appear all around the north of England and North Wales. VP is conducting the Philharmonia orchestra in London and Basingstoke in November.

The second and latest CD was released on 28 September and is available from the Phil online shop. I have heard Robin mention that the next one will be nos. 1 and 12, although I have no idea when that will be released, probably next year.

Did you play in the NYO proms concert this year?

You must visit Liverpool and see our newly regenerated city centre and our fabulous heritage too. If you are a student there are some great deals at the Phil.

Welcome again to the blog and I hope you are the first of many newcomers.

Jill

violin player said...

Thanks Jill,

I hoping to try to come to Liverpool - Mahler and Shostakovich cycles in particular intice me.

I was in this years Prom concert - it was on of the most increadible experiences of my life.

Robin said...

Hello Again Everybody

And a repeated welcome to Violin Player – please stay with us and I hope Jill’s plea for more readers of the blog to write something brings more comments. It would be great, Violin Player, if you can get to Liverpool for some of those concerts conducted by Vasily and another way of following his dates in Liverpool and around the world is at www.bachtrack.com. As Jill said, I think the next Naxos Shostakovich symphony releases are 1 and 12 (recorded in July this year), but I can’t find a release date on the Naxos website.

Yes, Jill, the Lutosławski was the same piece that Vasily conducted with the NYO at the Proms and it was excellent, though without the NYO forces and the atmosphere of a massive audience (sorry you don’t like this piece Karen, but we can’t all like everything and enjoy the Sibelius!). There is a long tradition of championing new music in Liverpool, so I don’t totally understand the present apparent fear of it. Vasily has conducted quite a number of new works, but his presence this coming Thursday still hasn’t produced a very good house. I was sorry I couldn’t get to the last 10:10, but will certainly be at the next one for the Weinberg three days before the concert with his Requiem. Weinberg will be totally new for me.

On the hall debate, I think that I agree with Jane that writing to the papers won’t really get us very far, but I’m certainly prepared, Jill, to ask Michael if there’s anything that we fans can do to support the efforts he and the Board are making. They are obviously working away behind the scenes and, while for some decades I didn’t trust the Board at all (it was pretty dreadful), in the past ten years things have changed a great deal and you can see this in the greatly improved fortunes of the Phil. From what they’ve achieved I think they’ve earned our confidence and we should give it to them so that they can get the best possible venue for the future. Of course, they need to keep us in touch to retain our support and I hope that they will take full notice of the dreams, wishes and ambitions we express here and otherwise for the future of the orchestra. These demand facilities of international status and we should continue to press hard for these and keep up some pressure on this blog and at opportunities like members’ evenings and the AGM. Just keeping going to concerts will help!!! Incidentally, people who live in Wirral, Knowsley, St Helens and Sefton could get at their councillors for meanness and try to increase their financial support for the Phil – they give just £86 thousand a year between them compared with nearly £1.5 million from Liverpool! I know it’s a Liverpool orchestra, but it provides an immense amount to residents of the other areas too. Anyway, let’s revisit this after we hear what Michael says at the AGM.

Gillian: we get little opera in Liverpool, so I’m sure an occasional defection can be forgiven!

Someone told me, Jane, that Bryn Terfel said it would be nice to be a resident artist at the Phil. That would be pretty wonderful, but somehow I think that it might break the bank…

Best to all

Robin said...

A few little things:

I meant to say this when I last wrote, but forgot. Why aren't more people buying tickets for the NYO concert in January? It'll certainly be a concert to remember, so let's all encourage people to go to it!

Browsing around in HMV, I came across a Phil disc I didn't know of music by Ferdinand Ries, whose music I didn't know - his piano concerto No 7 played by Philip Hinterhuber and some other pieces conducted by Uwe Grodd. At £6.00 from Naxos I bought it and, though not the greatest music I've ever heard, it's very pleasant and easy to listen to. I notice there are a lot of Naxos discs by the Phil I didn't know about...

Nice plug on R3 In Tune yesterday when Xue Fei Yang was playing and talking to Sean Rafferty, with quite a lot about her collaboration with Steve Goss. She seemed really pleased with the premiere of The Albéniz Concerto with the Phil last week. I gather she's going to record it with the orchestra for release on EMI next year, so there's another thing to look forward to - just like tomorrow's and Sunday's concerts!

jill said...

Hello everyone, wasn't that a fabulous concert this evening. I was initially disappointed to find a piece repeated on Sunday, but I will definitely enjoy hearing the violin a second time. I thought the final piece was so unusual, not really like anything else, I enjoyed it all so much.

Robin - hot off the press from the Maestro himself - the next Shostakovich CD will be no: 8.

Did anyone see Sasha Petrenko at the orchestra entrance during the interval, I think he just about managed to restrain himself from walking to the podium and conducting! What a delightful little boy he is.

Jill

Jill

Robin said...

Hi all

I agree absolutely with Jill that last night's concert was magnificent. Emily Howard had built brilliantly on her earlier Magnetite piece to create a symphony that is quite spell-binding, conducted with precision and played with flair yesterday. Baiba Skride gave one of the best performances of Sibelius' Violin Concerto I've ever heard, with great orchestral playing, and in a fantastic performance of Prokofiev's 7th symphony Vasily inspired the orchestra to the high standards we now expect. He also brought out subtleties and nuances so much that it was almost a rediscovery with sound that I've never noticed on a recording. More Prokofiev please!

I don't at all mind the one-work repeat in a Sunday concert - it was the same in the last Sunday concert (the next one is a complete repeat of Thursday) - and I'm looking forward to a flood of Sibelius. It will be a pleasure to hear Baiba Skride play again. I notice that last night she joined the audience after the interval to listen to the Prokofiev and it's always good to see musicians in the audience. I spotted last night, too, David Horne and Eddie Thomas (former Phil bass player).

Thanks, Jill, for the info from the horses mouth! I look forward to the disc of Shostakovich's 8th next and then to 1 and 12. Still can't see release dates for any of these.

best, Robin

Robin said...

Hi Vasily and All

Today’s great concert was a wonderful way to spend Sunday afternoon! The programme note said that Sibelius’s 2nd symphony was for a long time the most popular of his symphonies. For me, it always has been and it remains my favourite, so I was bowled over today by the most powerful performance I’ve ever heard and many thanks to V and the band. The performance of Finlandia was very moving, too, and much crisper than most performances I can remember, and it was a pleasure to hear Baiba Skride play Sibelus’s Violin Concerto again. I thought that this performance, both by her and the orchestra, was even better than last Thursday.

Though they get a different soloist, I hope the audience in Sheffield enjoys the concert this coming Thursday as much as I did today.

A question that only Vasily can answer. Why did he rearrange the string sections today? Vernon Handley, and others, always had this arrangement and I often wondered why, but this is the first time I can recall Vasily moving things about.

All the best

jill said...

Hi Vasily and everyone. Brilliant concert this afternoon, I found the final piece most unusual, even more so than the Prokofiev on Thursday, it was more contemporary than I expected with some difficult to recognise time signatures, but at the same time I kept finding various tunes running through my mind that I was reminded of.

I wondered if the big strings were moved today because they had a major part to play in the final piece? We could certainly hear them better (is that why the double basses were "stacked"?)and they did play a more major part in the orchestration than is usual, or did it seem that way because we could hear them more? As usual, I don't really know what I am talking about, so it will be interesting to hear your explanation, Vasily.

I have so enjoyed the concerts this past week, thank you.

I would also like to say that, since I watched you at the Proms on the Maestrocam, your conducting is much more appreciated. I always found you very elegant and a joy to watch, but now I appreciate that you are performing every note of each piece of music. It's no surprise that you inspire the musicians so much, perhaps in orchestras where there is a very static conductor, the musicians have to find their inspiration elsewhere (from within?) if they can. I hope there will be brilliant reviews in the national press after your concerts in London with the Philharmonia. I have written to some relatives in Los Angeles urging them to see you at the Disney Hall in January.

Jill

Robin said...

Talking of national reviews, Jill, there's one in the Telegraph of last Thursday's concert. It only has 3 stars for some reason because it reads much better than that, and it's exceptionally enthusiastic about Vasily and the orchestra for the performance of Prokofiev's 7th.

Here's a link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/classicalconcertreviews/6469404/Royal-Liverpool-Philharmonic-Orchestra-at-Philharmonic-Hall-Liverpool-review.html

Nick said...

Attended the Sibelius concert this afternoon. In contemporary parlance - awesome. Finlandia was suitably rousing and Baiba Skride played the Violin Concerto perfectly; but the Second Symphony was something altogether different. It was electrifying. passionate, masterful, I'm sure as Sibelius would wish to have it performed. I am certain I will never hear it performed to that standard ever again.

As far as a new hall is concerned, whilst the Philharmonic Hall is a much loved Liverpool building, that has been home to many fantastic performances, the 21st century calls for a new standard of concert hall. Given how many come from North wales like myself, it would be nice if the Welsh Assembly Government could contribute some funds, given how much they do for Cardiff, but perhaps I am being naive.....

johanna said...

Fabulous concert on Sunday. And three cheers for the ice cream sellers who had run out of ice cream by the time my son found the pound coin he had dropped, so ran down to wherever they store them and brought him back not one, but two ice creams, making him a very happy nine-year old.

Robin said...

Hi Nick

Great that you also enjoyed the concert so much and - wonderful as it has been, it really does seem to time to move on from the Philharmonic Hall to a 21st-century facility. I am really sceptical about the possibility of redeveloping the present hall to the standard to which we should now aspire.

The Welsh Assembly is an idea no one has come up with before and I'm sure that all avenues should be explored. It may, though, as you say turn out to be naive, especially given the pitiful support given by most Merseyside authorities whose areas provide a large percentage of the Phil's audience.

Karen said...

Hello everyone,

Yesterdays' concert was really enjoyed, particularly Finlandia and the Violin Concerto - the latter I hadn't heard in full before.

Like Jill, I wondered if the rearranged string sections were something to do with the composers' orchestration requiremnets....

Our taxi driver on the way home mentioned that he had passengered Vasily, seeming very impressed with our chief maestros' football knowledge. He also said that in 12 years of cabbing, he had never driven so many people to and from the Phil as he has since Vasily arrived. More proof of the Petrenko effect!.

jill said...

Hi all, re ice creams, at £2.50 a pop for the new ones, they should be able to afford to give every child a free ice cream. I miss the choc-ices and that, combined with the 25% increase in price, means that I will be taking a few sweets of my own in future.

I am going away for the rest of the week, but when I return I shall have a look into Sefton and how they support the Phil (not!) I will be back in time for next Saturday's concert.

Jill

Robin said...

In his review in today's Times of last Thursday's concert, I think that Geoff Brown is a bit harsh about Baiba Skride's performance of Sibelius's Violin Concerto, though she certainly played better on Sunday than on Thursday. A pity he didn't like Magnetite to much either, but complimentary about the orchestra throughout - and what a rave about the performance of Prokofiev's 7th symphony! I echo Brown's call for Vasily to record a Prokofiev symphony cycle when the Shostakovich is completed.