Home Culture Knowsley 20th Prescot Festival set for landmark opening weekend
Photo: South Liverpool Orchestra under the direction of Dr Robert Howard (credit: Colin Edwards)

20th Prescot Festival set for landmark opening weekend

by Guy Murphy

Audiences are preparing for dazzling orchestral and choral performances as the opening weekend of the 2024 Prescot Festival approaches.

The landmark 20th Annual Prescot Festival of Music & the Arts begins on Friday 21 June with a return visit from festival favourites South Liverpool Orchestra, conducted by Festival Founder and Artistic Director Dr Robert Howard, in a concert of well-known orchestral ‘lollipops’. The Opening Night audience in the 400-year-old, Grade I listed Prescot Parish Church will also enjoy Festival birthday cake to mark the occasion.

After such a celebratory start, day 2 continues with the 100-strong Prescot Festival Chorus, a ‘Come & Sing’ choir that has been gathering annually since 2007. Their performance of Fauré’s Requiem, a much-loved choral workwill be followed by a second half that features the magnificent Liverpool Cathedral Choir in a range of repertoire, including Coronation classics such as Parry’s I Was Glad.

On Sunday, Liverpool Bach Collective will sing the music of JS Bach in the majestic surrounds of Prescot’s Roman Catholic Church (Our Lady Immaculate & St. Joseph’s), providing a traditional service of Evensong, followed by Cantata 29, with its ceremonial ensemble that includes strings, winds, organ. trumpets and timpani. The music will be directed by Philip Duffy, who was Master of Music at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral since its opening in 1966 until 1996, and director of music for the famous papal visit to Liverpool by Pope John Paul II in 1982.

The festival then continues through to Sunday 30 June, ending with a Last Night of the Proms-style Finale featuring Maghull Wind Orchestra directed by Phil Shotton, after a 10-day programme that includes classic film Chariots of Fire, afternoon opera excerpts, school choirs and instrumentalists, a one-act one-woman play, a brass band, historian Ken Pye, a barn dance with live ceilidh band, and much more.

‘We’re confident that this year’s special 20th festival, which also includes musical and dramatic performances at Prescot’s Shakespeare North Playhouse, will provide the most fitting and thrilling fanfare possible for this new era in Prescot’s cultural life,’ said artistic director Dr Robert Howard, ‘and with so much local talent on show it’s a great opportunity to celebrate 20 highly successful years of this local, grassroots and volunteer-run Festival.’

The 20th Annual Prescot Festival of Music & the Arts takes place from Friday 21 to Sunday 30 June 2024 in the historic Lancashire town of Prescot, Merseyside. The full schedule is online at www.prescotfestival.co.uk, and tickets are on sale via the website or in person (cash only) from Poco Bar & Cafe at 30 Eccleston Street, Prescot, L34 5QJ.