Cammell Laird and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO) have joined forces to produce a new recording of the classic ‘60s hit 'Ferry Cross the Mersey' in support of Wirral becoming the 2019 Borough of Culture for Liverpool City Region.
The new version will have its live premiere at a special concert in Birkenhead Park this September. The event is set to be a highlight of Wirral’s Borough of Culture year and will mark the RLPO only outdoor performance of 2019.
Written by Gerry Marsden and originally recorded in 1964 by his Merseybeat band Gerry and the Pacemakers, 'Ferry Cross the Mersey' brought the Mersey Ferries worldwide fame. The song not only became an instant hit, it has retained a special place in Mersey culture.
The idea to record a special version was sparked by a meeting during this year’s Animated Square light show at Birkenhead Town Hall between Tony Graham, Chief Operating Officer of Cammell Laird which is based in Birkenhead on the Wirral, and Andrew Cornall, Artistic Director at the RLPO.
Musicians of the RLPO led by their Chief Conductor Vasily Petrenko gathered for the recording at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in May and the new arrangement was the work of Tim Jackson, Principal Horn. The recording is due to receive a radio premiere over the summer.
Tony Graham said: “What a fantastic way to celebrate both Cammell Laird’s longstanding links with the Mersey Ferries and the exciting programme of cultural events taking place in Wirral throughout 2019. Tim Jackson has produced a beautiful arrangement and the RLPO has created a fitting new chapter in the life of this iconic piece of music. We have a superb line-up of events to look forward to over the coming months as the Borough of Culture celebrations continue, and I cannot wait to see this new version of Ferry Cross the Mersey premiere in front of a live audience in September.”
Andrew Cornall added: “The orchestra and Vasily Petrenko were delighted to come together for this recording, which celebrates an iconic song and an iconic feature of our region.”
The RLPO will take to the stage in Birkenhead Park at 7.30pm on Saturday, September 7. Tickets are available now at liverpoolphil.com priced at £15.00 / £12.50 (concessions) with up to two children free per adult ticket, a small charge applies for additional children.
As well as premiering their new version of Ferry Cross the Mersey, the orchestra will perform a mesmerising programme of popular classics, show tunes and exciting film standards, under the baton of conductor, Richard Balcombe. Showcasing music from composers as diverse as Bizet, Lennon and McCartney, John Williams, Holst and others, including some very special interpretations of Merseyside crowd pleasers, this full concert performance will be a spectacular and awe-inspiring experience for audiences of all ages. Liverpool-born international mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston will also join the Orchestra at this special concert.
Cammell Laird is hugely proud of its Mersey Ferries heritage, with the shipyard having built 15 Mersey Ferries dating back to 1836. MV Overchurch was built in Birkenhead in 1962 and Cammell Laird has helped to maintain the current Mersey Ferries fleet for the last 60 years. Commercial shipbuilding returned to Cammell Laird in 2012 with the construction of two car ferries – MV Sound of Seil and MV Sound of Soay. In April this year, the company completed work on Red Kestrel, a £10million ferry for Isle of Wight ferry operator Red Funnel.
Wirral’s year as Liverpool City Region’s Borough of Culture 2019 includes Made of Iron - a programme of events and exhibitions celebrating Wirral’s shipbuilding and maritime heritage.
Cllr Christine Spriggs, Cabinet Member for Culture and Tourism at Wirral Council, commented: “For our Borough of Culture year, our events have been inspired by discovery, exploration and the great outdoors – a reflection of how our maritime heritage has shaped Wirral’s story. Our Made of Iron series is giving people opportunities to find out more about the role that shipbuilding has played in our communities and also in putting Wirral on the world stage.
“We were excited to hear about this collaboration between Cammell Laird and the RLPO. It’s fantastic that this new version of such a classic Merseyside song will be premiered for a live audience in Birkenhead Park, during one of the highlights of our Borough of Culture year.”
Made of Iron includes exhibition Six Vessels, open at the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum until Sunday 22 September, which looks at the stories behind six Wirral-built ships which travelled the world.
A Community Made of Iron seeks to create a digital archive of stories, photographs and artefacts capturing the social history and experiences of workers, families and communities linked to Wirral’s shipbuilding and maritime heritage.
Down Our Street, a musical play by Wirral writer Brian McCann, will be staged at the Floral Pavilion from Thursday 29 August – Sunday 1 September. The show celebrates life in the Cammell Laird shipyard from the industrial revolution to the present day with drama, comedy and song.
Later this year, the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool will present Close Enough to Touch at Birkenhead Priory. The play is a dramatic retelling of the tragic story of HMS Thetis which sank in 1939 with the loss of 99 lives. It will be performed at the historic Birkenhead Priory, which sits next to of the shipyard.