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Prescot Festival prepares for closing weekend

by Lisa Bennett

Prescot Festival, now in its 20th year, welcomed over 600 people to its first weekend, with South Liverpool Orchestra, conducted by Festival Founder & Artistic Director Dr Robert Howard, receiving a rapturous reception for an opening night of orchestral ‘lollipops’, featuring music by Bizet, Elgar, Verdi, Sibelius and many others.

The epic second night saw over 100 sopranos, altos, tenors and basses from across the Northwest gathering to form the Prescot Festival Chorus to sing Fauré’s Requiem, 100 years after the composer’s death in 1924. The impromptu ‘Come and Sing’ choir has been a highly successful part of the festival since 2007.  Then followed a stunning performance by Liverpool Cathedral Choir, 100 years after their own Cathedral’s consecration, who delivered a suitably majestic and celebratory second half to the evening’s concert.

Day 3 saw a full congregation at Prescot’s RC Church for a special performance of J.S. Bach’s appropriately festive Cantata No. 29, complete with trumpets, timpani, organ, harpsichord, chorus, soloists, and an ensemble of strings and woodwind. Liverpool Bach Collective, now in their 10th year, were on fine form, and were directed by Philip Duffy – Master of Music at Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral for 30 years, from its famous opening in 1967.

The fourth day saw a festival first—an afternoon performance of opera solos & soliloquies in the outdoor Sir Ken Dodd Performance Garden at Prescot’s Shakespeare North Playhouse. Laura Hudson gave an outstanding recital, in the blazing sunshine, of a wide range of Shakespearean operatic excerpts and musical theatre songs.

Festival Artistic Director Dr Robert Howard said:

“In a short time, the theatre has already brought so much joy and magic to our community and it’s an honour to be collaborating on what we hope will be an on-going collaboration in placing arts and music centre-stage in Prescot.”

More to come

The celebration of arts and music continues throughout the week, with schools’ events, a film screening, a one-act one-woman play, and a barn dance.

The festival culminates in a closing weekend featuring musical favourites from Lancashire-based Wingates Brass Band – now in their 150th year, a talk from local historian Ken Pye, Broadway and West End songs from the shows with BOST, and a Proms-style singalong finale from Maghull Wind Orchestra, directed by the indefatigable Phil Shotton.

The 20th Annual Prescot Festival of Music & the Arts runs until Sunday 30 June in venues across the historic Lancashire town of Prescot, Merseyside. For event information, including ticket sales, visit prescotfestival.co.uk.

Photo: Prescot Festival Chorus at the 20th Annual Prescot Festival of Music & the Arts, conducted by Ian Wells (credit: Colin Edwards)