Rachael Bentham meets the conductor taking over the reigns of the ever popular Classical Spectacular
BEING a classical conductor who has performed worldwide, John Pryce-Jones is no stranger to delivering music to the ears of thousands. But his latest job at the visually and audibly breathtaking show Classical Spectacular is a new venture for him.
It’s been two years since the production came to Liverpool, but it’s back at the Echo Arena this year with the same mixture of popular classical tracks and stunning light shows, which is great news for Pryce-Jones.
“It’s an all singing, all dancing version with lasers and fireworks. It’s exciting!” he says.
“For people that do not often go to classical concerts, we’re playing music that a lot them will have heard before on stations like Classic FM.”So it’s easily accessible music, but it’s made much more exciting and appealing.”
The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir will perform alongside trumpeters from the King’s Division Band, with soloists soprano Stephanie Corley and tenor Philip O’Brien, who the conductor has worked with before.
“I’m looking forward to it because they’re a very nice orchestra to work with and very talented obviously. This is something a bit different for them as well. It’s a big venue and so the sound is amplified,” says Pryce-Jones.
“The orchestra is on stage with the choir, soloists and trumpeters so it’s a very exciting, exhilarating event with people’s favourite pieces being played live. It’s all very well listening on the radio but it’s quite a different thing when you can actually see the musicians playing.”
Pryce-Jones was born in South Wales but, after earning a scholarship to Cambridge to study conducting, he found success which led him to perform globally over the span of his career. He spent several years living in South Africa conducting concerts, operas and ballets.
“The biggest venue I ever performed at was in Australia for Swan Lake to 10,000 people,” he says.
“You don’t even think about the difference. People ask me if I was conducting a youth choir would I have to change things and the answer is no. You’re just there to get the best possible results and give the audience the experience. Provided I get a decent dressing room I don’t mind.”
Father to former Idlewild guitarist Rod Jones, Pryce-Jones wants everyone to be able to enjoy classical music whether they are experienced concert goers or not.
“Classical Spectacular is for an audience that want to be entertained but also an audience that like going to concerts and want something a bit extra, maybe people who wouldn’t normally go to a classical concert because they’re not sure what to expect and they’re not sure how they should behave or whether they’ll be out of their depth.”
Classical Spectacular is now in its 25th year. Run by production company Raymond Gubbay and seen by over two million people worldwide, the show follows a programme of songs including Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King and Strauss’s Blue Danube Waltz to a backdrop of light and firework displays.
“I’ll have to keep my wits about me,” says Pryce-Jones.
“It would be easy to be distracted. I have done similar concerts with fireworks which can obliterate the music in places so you have to concentrate like mad and with the laser lights you have to make sure they don’t distract you or the musicians.
“It’s very clever technology, which the organisation is very experienced in, and they have experts who control the lighting. It’s all computerised, it’s not a man with a matchstick light and a firework!”
“It’s a very good format, it’s a very clever package and it’s pretty unique combining this sort of music with this kind of effects.”
Classical Spectacular is at the Echo Arena on March 16.