Going underground: McCabe returns to Liverpool

Going underground: McCabe returns to Liverpool
A network of tunnels that run deep under the city of Liverpool inspired John McCabe in writing his new Symphony ‘Labyrinth’, which is premiered by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under its Principal Conductor Vasily Petrenko at the opening concert of its 2007/8 season on 14 September.

The Williamson Caves were built in the early 19th century and have long proved a source of fascination for the Liverpool-born composer. He recalls travelling by train through the district as a child and “poking my head out of the train window and looking up one of the ventilation shafts and seeing, far overhead, a bird flying across the small square of visible blue sky”. The tunnels take on a wider significance as the piece explores “the concept of a struggle towards the light from a dark labyrinth”.

In an exciting development for the orchestra, the premiere will be streamed live on the Second Life website. Read John McCabe’s programme note to Symphony 'Labyrinth'.

Later in the same month, Birmingham Royal Ballet stages a welcome revival of McCabe’s ballet Edward II, which was conceived with the choreographer David Bintley and first performed by Stuttgart Ballet in 1995. Reviewing the premiere, The Times wrote that "the Stuttgart audience gave this evening of sex and violence and tremendous dancing a 15-minute ovation….” The ballet will be performed in Birmingham (26-29 September), Sadler’s Wells (11-13 October), Sunderland (17 & 18 October) and Plymouth (23-25 October).

Meanwhile, reviewers continue to heap praise on the new recording of McCabe’s Arthur Pendragon Suite No 1, Piano Concerto No 1 and Pilgrim recently released on Dutton Epoch. Writing in the BBC Music Magazine, Stephen Johnson commented that “it’s difficult to get away from the impression that John McCabe means his music to be enjoyed.” McCabe, who is 70 in 2009, is currently working on a Cello Concerto for Truls Mørk.

View forthcoming McCabe performances.

Related News