• Liverpool – where a 20th century music revolution began - celebrates 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
• 13 world premieres inspired by 13 songs: Frank Cottrell Boyce, Mark Morris Dance Group, DJ Spooky, Judy Chicago, Meow Meow, Jeremy Deller, Christophe Berthonneau + Groupe F in line-up with Liverpool organisations including Tate, Metal, Milapfest, Hurricane Films and 20 Stories High
From 25 May to 16 June 2017, Liverpool, the catalyst that ignited a musical revolution, celebrates The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the most influential album ever made – on the 50th anniversary of its release on 1 June 1967 during the ‘Summer of Love’.
Sgt. Pepper at 50: Heading for Home is an extraordinary response by some of the most exciting artists of today working from the city and across the globe, to the creative genius of the Beatles and this groundbreaking album. With performances, installations, live spectacle and moments of surprise across the city this summer, the spotlight will fall on Liverpool.
The programme features 13 major commissions from artists in all media working with Liverpool based cultural organisations to respond to the 13 legendary tracks on the album.
From Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral to Aintree Racecourse, Woolton Village to Tate Liverpool and St George’s Hall to Liverpool’s Royal Court, across clubs, parks, streets and docklands, Sgt. Pepper at 50 will reach out to every part of the city.
The programme is curated by Artistic Directors, Sean Doran and Liam Browne, and presented by the City of Liverpool, in collaboration with Liverpool’s leading cultural organisations, with the support of Arts Council’s Ambition for Excellence programme which is funded by the National Lottery.
The commissions respond to each track on the album: Side 1, over the first weekend (1-5 June), and Side 2 over the second weekend (8-11 June), preceded by the Overture (25-27 May), and concluded by the Coda (16 June, Bloomsday).
To download video clips and high resolution press images:

Side 1 (Overture + Weekend 1):
Mark Morris Dance Group: Pepperland
Track title: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Liverpool’s Royal Court: Thursday 25 May – Saturday 27 May
As the Overture to the programme, the renowned Mark Morris Dance Group will present the world premiere of Pepperland, a new dance work which features an original score by composer Ethan Iverson inspired by the songs Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, With a Little Help From My Friends, A Day in the Life, When I’m Sixty-Four, Within You Without You, and Penny Lane, and performed live by the MMDG Music Ensemble, in an unprecedented septet of piano, voice, theremin, soprano sax, trombone, keyboard, and percussion. These will be the only performances of the work in the UK this year.
The City of Liverpool is joined by a top-tier group of some of the world's leading arts presenters and supporters, making it possible for Morris’s newest work to be realized for the festival's kick-off production. That group is the American Dance Festival, Durham, North Carolina; Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity with the Sony Centre, Toronto, Canada; Cal Performances, UC Berkeley, California; The City of Liverpool, England, U.K.; Hopkins Center for the Arts, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire; International Festival of Arts & Ideas, New Haven, Connecticut; The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.; Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; La Jolla Music Society, La Jolla, California; Meyer Sound, Berkeley, California; Seattle Theatre Group, Seattle, Washington; White Bird, Portland, Oregon.. Pepperland’s music is commissioned by the Charles and Joan Gross Family Foundation. Additionally the original music by The Beatles is used under license from Sony ATV Music Publishing.
Jeremy Deller with Metal: With a Little Help from my Friends
Track title: With a Little Help from my Friends
Citywide: From Thursday 25 May
With A Little Help from My Friends is a song about friendship, loneliness and love.  By 1967 The Beatles were the most famous people in the world, a no doubt totally alienating experience considering their youth, and naturally they depended greatly on each other and on a few trusted friends for support.  The relationship between the individual and society is a powerful theme in the work of Jeremy Deller and in his response to this song he has made two public art commissions that examine the nature of friendship and self-sacrifice, not just with those we know but also between strangers.
Christophe Berthonneau (Groupe F) + Scott Gibbons: Suspended Time
Track title: Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
Camp Hill: Thursday 1 June 8 pm to c.11 pm
The official opening spectacle at Camp Hill, marking the exact day that the album was released in 1967, will be created by the world-famous French fireworks artist Christophe Berthonneau & Groupe F, with American sound artist Scott Gibbons. From the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 to the French Millennium Celebrations at the Eiffel Tower in 2000 to the Rio Olympics in 2016, his work is celebrated globally. Talking about this new commission, Christophe Berthonneau says: “These shining threads, traced in the sky, animate our fragile hopes, a time of rapture, suspended time, a time of much needed recreation.”
Judy Chicago: Fixing a Hole
Track title: Fixing a Hole
The Grain Silo, Great Howard Street, Opens: Thursday 1 June
The internationally acclaimed American artist Judy Chicago, one of the pioneers of feminist art in the 1970s, is commissioned to create a giant mural, the largest she has ever undertaken on the exterior wall of the derelict Grain Silo in Liverpool Docks – her response to the track, Fixing a Hole. Studio Tate will invite the public to draw their responses on the gallery walls. Presented in partnership with Tate Liverpool.
20 Stories High: She’s Leaving Home…
Track title: She’s Leaving Home
Private homes in Toxteth: Thursday 1June  – Wednesday 14 June
One of the UK’s leading theatre companies making work with and for young people based in Liverpool, 20 Stories High, will present a new play, She’s Leaving Home…  Researched and developed by Keith Saha, Julia Samuels, and Phelim McDermott of Improbable, with young adults in Liverpool, the play will explore themes around housing, what home means. With live music and puppetry, She’s Leaving Home… will be presented as an intimate work in private houses in Toxteth.
John Cage: Mr Kite’s MUSICIRCUS!
Track title: Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite!
Aintree Racecourse: Sunday 4 June 2 pm – 5.50 pm
Mr Kite’s MUSICIRCUS! will take over Aintree Racecourse on Sunday 4 June, drawing on all Beatles music and featuring hundreds of Liverpool musicians, poets, dancers, circus artists, and spectators to take part in a giant free musical event, free to everyone to join in. As John Cage said: “My impression is that The Beatles’ place is not so much in the world of serious music as it is in the world as revolution. I think serious musicians would do well to follow their example in this respect.”
DJ Spooky: Getting Better?
Track title: Getting Better
Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room: Monday 5 June performance
FACT: Sunday 4 June – Friday 16 June installation on display
American composer, DJ and writer Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky takes a step back and questions whether the world is 'Getting Better' through a mixture of performance and an audio-visual installation.  Working in collaboration with multimedia artists, The Holladay Brothers, and guest artists, Miller will infuse technology to create a dynamic response to the question.
Side 2 (Weekend 2 + Coda):
BBC Radio Merseyside and 13 Poets: When I’m Sixty-Four: A Poem to the Future
Track title: When I’m Sixty-Four
Citywide: From Thursday 8 June
Paul McCartney began writing the music for the song when he was fifteen and added the lyrics in his mid-twenties on the occasion of his father’s sixty-fourth birthday. This special project explores the ideas of age and inter-generationalism in a number of ways, from BBC Radio Merseyside bringing together 64 choirs of all ages from the across the city perform the track, to 13 international poets (across a broad age-range but all under the age of 64) writing a poem in which they consider how they might see themselves and/or the world when they reach the age of sixty-four.  At a time of international uncertainty - a Trump Presidency, Brexit, the refugee crisis, climate change - what might the future hold individually and collectively?  
The poems will be printed as a pamphlet insert to an LP shaped sleeve, by way of acknowledging that Sgt Pepper was the first pop/rock album to print the songs’ lyrics.
Early Birds: Good Morning Good Morning
Track title: Good Morning Good Morning
City-wide: Friday 9 June from 7 am
The song was inspired by an advertisement for cornflakes that John Lennon found irritating, symbolising the mundaneness and repetition of those days. This interpretation of Good Morning Good Morning will be a whole series of breakfast time entertainments, drama, song, comedy jazz, pop, world music, talks, taking place in venues including Bluecoat Arts Centre, St George’s Hall, Lime Street Station and beyond, as far as Crosby Beach, from 7 am, energising the city and sending them uplifted to work school and play.
Meow Meow and her Sleepless Beauties: Rita Riot/Rita Requiem
Track title: Lovely Rita
Metropolitan Cathedral, Anglican Cathedral, The Oratory, St James Burial Ground, Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 June
Lovely Rita, allegedly based on Paul McCartney’s friendly encounter with a traffic warden, Meta Davis, a playful and flirtatious song, is chosen by cabaret sensation Meow Meow as the inspiration for an extraordinary multi-media performance and an installation created from interviews with Liverpool City Council traffic wardens. An outlandish procession devised with The Kazimier and  led by Meow Meow and her Sleepless Beauties will take place along Hope Street, one of the most iconic streets in the city visiting both cathedrals and followed by a 300-strong brass band, leading to a candle lit vigil and performance outside The Oratory in the grounds of the Anglican Cathedral.
Milapfest: The Beatles Ragafest and festival village
Track title: Within You Without You
St George’s Hall: Sunday 11 June
The Beatles Ragafest will be a day long festival hosted by Milapfest, the UK’s leading Indian Arts Development Trust based in Liverpool. The Ragafest will feature some of the world’s top Indian artists, including a Grammy Award winner Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. They will participate in four specially curated concerts to match the changing moods of the day at St George’s Hall, from 8 am to 11 pm at night, along with events all day in a specially created Festival Village with Indian food, arts and crafts.
Let’s Not Be Ourselves (Reprise)
Track title: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
Venue to be announced: Friday 9 June
Reprise is a way to revisit and revise, to create a variation on a theme. Let’s Not Be Ourselves will take place at the mythical Billy Shear’s Musical Emporium, inviting well-known contemporary popular music artists to either reprise their own work or a song on the album under a pseudonym, just as The Beatles did for Sgt. Pepper – keeping their identities secret.
Frank Cottrell Boyce and Hurricane Films: A Day in the life – Twenty Four Zero Hours
Track title: A Day in the Life
Filming: Over 24 hours Thursday 1 June
Woolton Picture House: Premiere screening Friday 16 June
Writer Frank Cottrell Boyce and film director Carl Hunter of Liverpool based Hurricane Films, taking inspiration from James Joyce’s Ulysses, capturing a day in the life of Dublin, will attempt to express the essence of Liverpool in a documentary film. Shot across twenty-four hours of one day, (1 June, Sgt Pepper 50th anniversary date), and edited in time for the world premiere at Woolton Picture House, in the area where The Beatles lived, on 16 June, in the days following the premiere, the film will be screened in cinemas and venues across the city.
Frank Cottrell Boyce introduces the film this way:
 “Found my coat and grabbed my hat, made the bus in seconds flat …”
How do you measure a day?
Bus time tables,
tide timetables,  
twenty-four hours
zero hours
“Made my way upstairs and had a smoke somebody spoke and I went into a dream"
We take a ride on the 86 (the bus McCartney would have taken to school) through the space time continuum where it passes through Liverpool.
As well as being able to see exclusive work for the first time, audiences can get involved and perform in a number of works themselves.
Speaking at the launch of Sgt Pepper at 50 in Liverpool, Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “We want to stage a fitting celebration which brings about a whole new interpretation of this classic album. Sgt. Pepper pushed creative boundaries. We want to do exactly the same with this brilliant group of artists bringing their unique ideas into the mainstream and giving their work a Liverpool twist - thought-provoking, sometimes cheeky and always entertaining. I would like to thank Arts Council England for supporting this ambitious programme, allowing the city to reach its creative potential, maintaining our reputation as a European cultural leader.”
Sean Doran and Liam Browne, co-curators, said: These 13 commissions invite artists not only to respond to the genius of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album but also crucially to collaborate and take inspiration from the city of Liverpool as a world stage with an unrivalled creative community. We were delighted to receive Sir Paul McCartney's blessing for our thinking and style of approach to Sgt. Pepper at 50 and honoured to have been asked to work with the city in this way”.

Alison Clark, National Director for Combined Arts, Director, North, Arts Council England, said: “Our Ambition for Excellence fund uses National Lottery investment to support the creation of work for major national moments. The events to celebrate Sgt Pepper at 50 on the scale and of the quality that this festival promises are very exciting. It will have huge appeal to many people, far beyond Beatles fans, and the 13 commissions are a unique opportunity for artists to make incredible new work connected to this iconic album, and for audiences to enjoy great art and culture.”
Liverpool partner organisations: Merseyside Dance Initiative, Metal, Milapfest, BBC Radio Merseyside, Tate Liverpool, The Kazimier, Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, The Metropolitan Cathedral, National Museums Liverpool, Hurricane Films, 20 Stories High, Creative Organisations of Liverpool, Unity Theatre, Bluecoat, Liverpool Philharmonic, Liverpool Art Regeneration Consortium
Sgt. Pepper at 50 has been made possible with National Lottery investment of £750,000 from Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence fund.
For all the up to date details of the programme, how to get involved and ticket information, please visit
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