Skip To Main Content

Huge Philharmonic gig builds skills and self-belief

Monday 11 March 2024

Huge Philharmonic gig builds skills and self-belief

Students at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) have described their sell-out show at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall as a “game changer” for their craft and confidence.

In December 2023 LIPA’s Christmas Concert was performed at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall to an audience of over 1,500 people. The show featured the LIPA Big Band, strings, choirs and dancers. First-year Music student Lala Robinson played bass in the Big Band. Lala says the experience was profound. “It’s 100% improved my confidence and it’s given me a new way of thinking about my music.

“I now have a different kind of practice schedule. Going through all the rehearsals for the concert has set a whole new level for me and a new standard that I can hold myself to.”

LIPA’s Christmas Concert was first performed in 2003 and has become the Institute’s most popular public performance. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, it moved to the Philharmonic, its biggest ever stage.

The use of an external venue meant students only had access to the building on the day of the performance. Third-year Theatre & Technical Production student Imogen Walkden-McGrady was stage manager: “It underlined how important organisation is, there’s a lot you need to sort out before you go into the venue. Also, the importance of communication, talking to different teams, including staff at the Philharmonic.

“Being able to work outside of the LIPA bubble, away from that comfort zone and having to tackle difficult moments like you’d have to in the real world, I definitely feel better prepared for the industry.”

This year’s concert featured special guests The Farm, who performed their iconic single All Together Now with the LIPA Big Band and Strings. Third-year Music student Tabitha Gervis performed with guitarist Keith Mullin, who is subject leader of LIPA’s MA Music Industry Management, and frontman Peter Hooton. “It was an absolute honour to be on stage with them, they made me feel as though I was a part of their performance and not just a backing vocalist.

“This was the biggest audience I have ever performed for. I just embraced the size of the space and tried to fill it with as much energy and joy as I could. Most importantly I made sure I had the most fun ever because I knew how much of a special opportunity it was!”

As well as The Farm the show also featured The Savage Young Beatles and raised nearly £3,000 for Liverpool food poverty charity, Fans Supporting Foodbanks. Imogen Walkden-McGrady says it was an incredible experience. “I’m not going to lie, it felt fantastic to be part of something as big as that.

“There were moments when I wasn’t rushing around when I was able to just stop and take it all in, the size of the stage, the venue, the audience. And the musicians at LIPA are so talented so being able to just hear them perform was special.”