Three ocean Queens, a unique audio experience, maritime festival and a cultural exchange weekend – just some of the ingredients proving Liverpool’s magnificent credentials this year.
In a celebration of Liverpool, its internationally renowned maritime history and transatlantic links, a seven week programme of events will take place under the banner One Magnificent City (OMC) – expected to bring in hundreds of thousands of people. It includes brand new commissions alongside existing established favourites which have been enhanced for this special year.
The programme launches on Friday 15 May with the hugely popular LightNight. Now in its sixth year, the one-night arts festival gives visitors the chance to explore the city’s world-class cultural offer late in to the night. Taking place across 50 locations, each corner of the city will offer up a vibrant mix of light projections, street performance, exhibitions, walking tours, hands-on workshops, open studios and much more. The full LightNight programme will be announced on Monday 30 March.
Event highlights and new commissions specially created for OMC are:
The Crossing, 15 May – 5 July: Stop by South John Street in Liverpool ONE for an experience never before heard in the city. Amongst all your favourite brands and great places to eat, drink and socialise, The Crossing is a world first in an outdoor shopping destination and will surround visitors to the city with the sounds synonymous with the special relationship between Liverpool and New York. Celebrating the 175th Anniversary of the first Cunard transatlantic sailing, The Crossing will transport you from one magnificent city to another using unique 3D sound techniques developed by Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware and his company Illustrious. Be sure to step aboard The Crossing and set sail on an audio journey across the music, fashion and culture Liverpool shares with the Big Apple.
Time Liners, 15 May – 5 July: Bringing to life the stories of Cunard workers from medical officers to the heavy gang, a brand new installation by Make Space Create will immerse audiences in the memories and forgotten images of those who worked on the world famous liners. It will be located at the Cunard Building on LightNight and will then feature at other OMC events.
Port of Call Lecture Series, May to June: The University of Liverpool’s Centre for New and International writing will host a series of public talks and performances in celebration of the sea, ships and literary voyages. Starting on May 15, Mermaids in their Element sees a series of nautically inspired readings and images dedicated to the sea sirens. On May 23 Dr Sandeep Parmar will focus on the black sheep of the Cunard family – Nancy Cunard, who is regarded as one of the literary greats of her generation. Down to the Sea in Ships on May 24 will see the critically acclaimed story-teller Horatio Clare bring to life tales of seafarers, cargo ships and voyages around the world. On Saturday 6 June, Professor Paul Baines will explore the life and work of sailor and radical Edward Rushton and on Sunday 5 July artist Charlotte Hodes (from the University of Sheffield) and poet and Professor Deryn Rees-Jones will look at the poetic process, using American poet Elizabeth Bishop as inspiration.
Writing on the Wall Festival, running from before OMC begins (1 May) until 22 May: Focusing on the theme American Dreams, the 2015 festival will take audiences on a transatlantic journey with spoken word, theatre, discussion and debate, exploring the ‘wild, strange frenzy’ of port city life, and the cultural ties that bind New York and Liverpool.
The Golden Age of Film, June: Working with retired ‘at sea’ projectionists, this fascinating project will delve in to the world of films on long sea voyages. The projectionists will recall their memories of working at sea and the important role film played – whether it be entertainment or a source of news from home. Coordinated by Cohiba Productions, acclaimed actor Paul McGann will be involved and a short film will be created which will be showcased at various city centre venues.
The Subterranean Theatre: The Maurie, June: Written by Writing on the Wall’s Mike Morris, The Maurie is based on a 1920’s short story by rediscovered Liverpool seafarer and writer George Garrett. It celebrates the mighty ‘scouse boat’ The Mauretania, and the lives of those who worked below decks. Set in the ‘Subterranean Theatre’ of the ships’ engine room, this unique dramatic production is set to be an OMC highlight.
Women and the City: LOOK/15 is running a photographic competition celebrating the arrival of the Three Queens. In an open call to budding and
experienced photographers, the LOOK/15 team want individuals to interpret the title Women and the City in any creative way, and let imaginations run wild – whether it be a portrait of an admired female, a picture of female statues such as Bessie Braddock or Eleanor Rigby or one of the Three Queens on the Mersey. Work submitted before Friday 10 April will be considered for exhibition at Liverpool ONE. Entries sent in from 11 April-26 May will be showcased http://www.onemagnificentcity.co.uk/.
Three Queens & Amazing Graces, 23-26 May: The majestic arrival of the three Cunard Queens (Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria) on the River Mersey on Monday 25 May marks the 175th anniversary of Cunard. A world first, they will perform synchronised manoeuvres on the Mersey in a salute to their spiritual home. As part of this bank holiday weekend The Colour Project will create Amazing Graces which will bring the Three Graces to life with state-of-the-art projections exploring the spirit of the city its heritage and culture.
The International Mersey River Festival & Music on the Waterfront,5-7 June: This popular event returns with a three day celebration of all things maritime and music. Tall Ships, cadet displays, street performances and amazing live music will make up some of the programme, along with the inaugural Northern Boat Show which will host around 150 exhibitors, and 60 boats, attracting an estimated 25,000 visitors.
Rock n Roll Marathon,14 June: After its hugely successful first year, grab those trainers and start limbering up as the marathon is back! Event details are due to be announced soon, but it’s set to be bigger and better, with plans underway to make it a weekend event in a celebration of American and British music.
Walter Mosley, early July: Walter Mosely, author of the bestselling Easy Rawlins mysteries and one of the most versatile and admired writers in America today, heads to the city from New York for a rare UK appearance. Hosted by Writing on the Wall, this event will explore a shared literary heritage and transatlantic experiences of race, class and equality.
Transatlantic 175 (T175),4-5 July: Positioning Liverpool as the UK’s biggest 4 July celebration of American Independence, the weekend is packed full of ships, fashion, art, music, film and food. On the 4, Cunard flagship Queen Mary 2 sets sail for America from the Cruise Liner Terminal, recreating the original voyage of Britannia back in 1840. As part of T175, a festival has been commissioned which is being curated by acclaimed designer Wayne Hemingway which will mark the cultural exchange between Britain and the USA, highlighting the influences which have travelled back and forth over the Atlantic. Full details will be unveiled later this month.
Gianni Russo: One Night Only, Sunday 5 July: Having made his name by starring in The Godfather, Gianni Russo will entertain an audience with stories of the days he travelled and performed on Cunard liners with Frank Sinatra and Grace Kelly. This ticketed event will also see him sing many famous songs as part of his repertoire.
The majority of the new commissions have been funded through the Mayor’s Fund.
Other events taking part during the OMC period are Sound City 2015 which runs from 21-24 May. It will take over the abandoned docklands of Liverpool, breathing new life into the iconic centre of Liverpool’s industrial heritage. For three days and nights, hundreds of amazing bands from every corner of the globe will perform, with headline sets from The Vaccines, The Flaming Lips and Belle & Sebastian. In the spring, British pop art legend Sir Peter Blake will unveil his ‘dazzled‘ Mersey Ferry as part of a co-commission between Liverpool Biennial, 14-18 NOW WW1 Centenary Art Commissions and Tate Liverpool in partnership with Merseytravel and National Museums Liverpool.
Sefton Park will play host to Africa Oye on 20-21, the UK’s biggest and free annual celebration of African and Caribbean culture and music.
Across National Museums Liverpool’s eight museums and galleries there will be an eclectic mix that will offer something for everyone throughout the OMC period. Highlights include Lusitania: life, loss, legacy, which tells the story of the city’s most loved ship and the passengers and crew who sailed aboard her on the tragic last voyage. This is a brand new exhibition for Merseyside Maritime Museum opening in March 2015, and will feature many items from the ship which have never been displayed before, as well as stories from the Merseyside families devastated by the loss. Also at Merseyside Maritime Museum, the Maritime Dining Room offers visitors a chance to enjoy afternoon tea with unrivalled views of Liverpool’s waterfront and stunning black and white photography capturing the romance and grandeur of ocean liners featuring Hollywood stars in their heyday. The Sail Awayexhibition continues this theme with a display of Liverpool shipping posters showing the changing face of passenger travel by sea. June will also see World Museum staging a breathtaking exhibition that explores the ancient Mexican civilisation of Maya. Maya: the revelation of an endless time will explore the powerful and revealing world of this Mesoamerican civilisation that left a far-reaching legacy of architectural, cultural and artistic achievements. World Museum is the only UK museum to stage this amazing collection, featuring more than 400 stunning objects from museums and Maya sites in Mexico. For more information visit http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/.
Until 31 May Tate Liverpool will present the first UK solo exhibition of work by Leonora Carrington (1917-2011) for over 20 years. Leonora Carrington, which launches on 6 March, explores the fantastical world of the painter and internationally celebrated member of the surrealist movement. The exhibition marks the Year of Mexico 2015.
“I don’t think there is a more fitting name for this seven week programme than One Magnificent City.
“When it comes to events, Liverpool is an ambitious city. We are fully aware of the importance and impact of cultural activities – not just the economic value they have, but the intangible benefits that comes from residents being proud of where they live.
“This seven week programme will showcase Liverpool at its very best – from the once in a lifetime spectacular of three Queens on the Mersey right through to the vibrant 4th July celebrations. We have a reputation for excelling when it comes to staging amazing, free outdoor events and this will be no exception. Without a doubt Liverpool will shine in what is going to be an exciting and unforgettable seven weeks for the city.”
Claire McColgan, Director of Culture
“This is all about this city and its partners working together to use the opportunity of two Cunard visits to bookend an incredible cultural offer unsurpassed by any other city in the UK. These are just the highlights of an all-encompassing Liverpool experience. There are still loads of events and activities to announce and it’s brilliant that all the partners of the city, from businesses and community groups, right through to young people and the maritime sector are taking on the culture challenge to showcase this city to the world.”
Martyn Ware, Illustrious Founder
“Illustrious are thrilled to be asked to create a world-first immersive 3D soundscape to help celebrate Cunard’s connection between Liverpool and New York, embodying the voices, sounds and spirit of transatlantic travel, then and now. The sheer scale of the sound experience will amaze and engage visitors to South John Street in a unique and exciting way during this city-wide festival.”
Donna Howitt, Liverpool ONE Marketing Director “Liverpool ONE is delighted to be working with Martyn Ware and Illustrious to deliver an experience which will captivate the imagination of visitors in a totally original way. The city has so much to offer families, shoppers and indeed cruise passengers as it comes together to celebrate Cunard’s very special anniversary and the historical ties between the two cities.”
Mike Morris, Co-Director of Writing on the Wall “I’m really excited to be dramatising George Garrett’s short story ‘The Maurie’ based on his time as a Stoker on The Mauretania’ in the early 1920’s. Garrett described the scene in the engine rooms of The Mauretania as a ‘Subterranean Theatre’; it’s a fitting tribute to Garrett, and the stokers, who laboured below decks in almost inhuman conditions to keep these incredible liners running, that their contribution to Liverpool’s maritime history is recognised as part of the city’s One Magnificent City celebrations.”
Madeline Heneghan Co- Director, Writing on the Wall: “It’s a real coup to have such an iconic American writer as Walter Mosley in the city. This is an exceptional treat for fans of crime fiction and an absolute must for those interested in contemporary US politics and culture.”
Emma Smith, Executive Director, LOOK “LOOK/15 is proud to launch on LightNight, in partnership with Open Culture, the City Council, the Arts Council and approximately 40 partners. As one of the largest UK photography festivals, LOOK/15 provides a fantastic platform for budding photographers, hailing from all over the world, and our fair city. With free to enter competitions, exhibitions at world-leading venues and free events to share, we are looking forward to welcoming the Queens, her fans and our friends to celebrate our One Magnificent City.”
Kim Ryan, Director of Cohiba Productions “Our commission builds on Cohiba’s work of preserving the heritage associated with working lives in Liverpool and the golden age of film. I’m delighted to be working with Paul McGann on this project which brings to life the role of the projectionist in entertainment on board the Cunard Line.”
Dr Sandeep Parmar, Liverpool Univeristy “The University of Liverpool’s Centre for New and International Writing is delighted to be to be a part of the One Magnificent City programme of events. Celebrating the rich artistic and literary heritage of our city and its internationalism is central to our Port of Call lecture series, which features a diverse range of subjects from anglo-saxon tales of mermaids to industrial container shipping and sea travel, as well as captivating historical figures linked to the city like Edward Rushton and Nancy Cunard.”
Paul Sullivan, Director, STATIC Gallery “On the 175th anniversary of Cunard and the 100th anniversary of Sinatra, I am delighted to welcome back to Liverpool the one and only Gianni Russo. Gianni (Carlo Rizzi in The Godfather), fell in love with Liverpool when he performed his legendary Frank Sinatra set as part of the International Festival for Business in 2014 and he is relishing the prospect of returning to perform a special Cunard set at the famous Albert Dock venue. During his time in Liverpool, Gianni will also be filming a remake of the Today I Settled All Family Business scene from The Godfather as part of STATIC Gallery’s forthcoming film HARBINGER to be released in 2016.”
Tracey Crosbie, Event Manager for Liverpool BID Company:
“LightNight is unlike anything else in Liverpool’s calendar and with so many great venues and spaces involved it’s arguably the must do experience of the year. It’s a showcase of the city at its most creative, brimming with wit and imagination and as a result it never fails to surprise, stimulate and delight in equal measure. The Liverpool BID Company is proud to be involved again and deeply excited at putting some of our hidden gems in such a brilliant spotlight.”