Review: BBC Symphony premiere of Turnage piece chronicling 1989 Arsenal/Liverpool soccer match

Posted on: November 11, 2021

In Tuesday’s (11/9) Daily Telegraph (U.K.), Ivan Hewett reviews “a brand-new piece inspired by the celebrated football match in 1989 in which Arsenal scored a last-minute win over Liverpool…. A 25-minute evocation of the match by the long-time Arsenal fan Mark-Anthony Turnage [was premiered] by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under the super-alert, energized conductor Ryan Bancroft…. The audience was packed with Arsenal fans and players from that winning team, who couldn’t help joining in with the recordings of the cheering crowd from that day 32 years ago, mingled in here and there with the music. Projected on a screen was a cleverly contrived compilation of match highlights. Turnage invited three of his long-time sparring partners from the jazz world to add rhythmic bite and swing to the orchestra: the guitarist John Parricelli, bass guitarist Laurence Cottle and drummer Peter Erskine. The music … recalled the sassy big-band sound of … Gil Evans…. The tension built … right up to the winning goal…. The Barbican crowd went wild. It was an uproarious end to a piece that in the proper spirit of old-fashioned English ‘light music’ mingled high spirits with a hint of deeper feelings.”