UNESCO city of note sounds a world first

Liverpool has recently become a UNESCO Creative City of Music, and already there are exciting things happening and plans in place for the future.

UNESCO city of note sounds a world first

by Culture Liverpool

Based in Paris, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is a specialist agency of the UN. It was founded following World War II in 1945 as a bid to help unite the fractured nations of the civilised world by means of artistic, scientific and cultural links.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. The 116 cities from 54 countries which currently make up the UCCN work together towards a common objective: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level.


Liverpool’s World Heritage waterfront

The UCCN covers seven creative fields: Crafts and Folk Arts, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts, and Music. UNESCO, which awarded the Maritime Mercantile City of Liverpool World Heritage Site status in 2004, has now recognised the city’s musical heritage, designating it a permanent UNESCO City of Music.

Liverpool’s experience as European Capital of Culture during 2008 showed how culture is central to Liverpool’s future. It demonstrated the impact that a unifying goal can have on aligning strategies to increase impact and reach, delivering benefits for all including £753.8 million of economic impact. Music was crucial to that success and this latest prestigious award is seen as a natural progression of Liverpool’s cultural journey.

There are now 19 Cities of Music around the world forming part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Liverpool is England’s representative.

Liverpool’s orchestra-in-residence at St George’s Hall, the Orchestra dell’Arte, in conjunction with the City Council and Liverpool Vision, has forged an enviable link in Europe with a ground-breaking musical exchange scheme.


Sacha Rattle and Zeynep Özsuca

In May 2017, the first of a series of exchange concerts took place in the city of Bologna. Following a breath-taking concert last season in Liverpool at which the clarinettist Sacha Rattle played Weber’s challenging second clarinet concerto with dell’Arte, Sacha and his wife, pianist Zeynep Özsuca, jetted off to Bologna to perform a duo concert of music by Schumann, Brahms and Saint-Saëns. The concert was a phenomenal success and the duo hailed as outstanding performers.


Pietro Fresa

As a return match, the young Italian pianist Pietro Fresa will be joining the orchestra under their conductor Edward Peak on 17 September 2017 at Liverpool’s St George’s Hall. Fresa will be performing the third piano concerto by Beethoven – a work requiring particular understanding and musical style from the soloist.

A musical exchange of this sort doesn’t just happen. Many people have to work hard behind the scenes to ensure that all the arrangements and fixtures are in place. Principal in this have been the Manager of Orchestra dell’Arte, Dr Valerie Warr and the head of Liverpool’s UNESCO City of Music – producer, Kevin McManus.

Valerie Warr is a formidable powerhouse of organisation and musical experience. Her background for many years was as engineering project manager in the petrochemical industry, working on global projects. This required drive and passion on a grand scale and this positive approach has been used by her to immense effect in organising the UNESCO deals.

Says Warr, ‘…this link with Europe is something that we have longed to have for some years now. When we heard about the initiative with UNESCO brokered by Liverpool City Council, we contacted Kevin who was immensely helpful and enthusiastic from the start. It’s been a long road, but we have got there and the first exchanges are now all set…..’


Orchestra dell’Arte in performance with Stephen Hough

Asked about the project, Kevin McManus commented ‘….we are proud that Liverpool is the first city in the UK to host a classical music project such as this. Together with the Orchestra dell’Arte we hope to extend the European links to other cities over the next few years and in particular link up with other UNESCO Cities of Music. I am delighted that Orchestra dell’Arte has developed this initiative as it demonstrates the opportunities offered to us as a UNESCO Music City’.

Conductor Edward Peak and the Orchestra dell’Arte are all set to welcome their Italian guest in September. Says Peak ‘…..over the last few seasons we have hosted what can only be described as a stellar line-up of soloists. We were delighted to work with Stephen Hough last year, one the world’s very finest pianists, who was immensely impressed with his first visit to the Concert Room at St George’s.


Conductor Edward Peak with Ofer Falk

Following that, we hosted Sacha Rattle and Wolfgang David, a violin soloist from Vienna. We have recently performed with Welsh Opera baritone Julian Boyce in a super programme of operatic arias and in our latest concert we were joined by violinist Ofer Falk (former leader Allegri Quartet) to perform the UK premiere of the violin concerto by the Danish composer Peter Lange-Műller. The European link, thanks to the UNESCO connection, will open up so many new possibilities. This is a hugely exciting time for us, for the young soloists and for Liverpool…’

Mention Liverpool and Music in the same sentence and the Fab Four tend to come instantly to mind. With this new international link – the world’s first UNESCO classical music exchange – the Orchestra dell’Arte seems sure to broaden this perception.

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