‘Prog at the Priory’ Season announced

29 March 2016

Following on from its hugely successful and sold-out candlelit concerts featuring Rick Wakeman and Gordon Giltrap, Lancaster Music Festival’s Prog at the Priory season continues at Lancaster’s historic Priory church with two intimate concerts celebrating the classic period of progressive rock. Appearing artists include John Hackett with Marco Lo Muscio, and Sir Thijs Van Leer with Menno Gootjes of classic Dutch prog rock band Focus. 

On Saturday 28th May, in a unique blend of classical and progressive music, internationally-renowned organist and pianist Marco Lo Muscio and flautist John Hackett, brother of former Genesis guitarist Steve, will perform instrumental interpretations of some of the masterpieces from the classic period of progressive rock. Included in the show will be tracks by Genesis, Pink Floyd, ELP, Rick Wakeman, Steve Hackett and King Crimson. Preceded by a tribute to Keith Emerson and with the involvement once again of the Priory choir, this promises to be a very special night.

The following weekend, on Friday 3rd June, there is a rare opportunity to see one of the legends of progressive rock, Sir Thijs van Leer of legendary Dutch band Focus. Sir Thijs, on grand piano and flute, accompanied by the dazzling guitarist of Focus, Menno Gootjes, will perform a very intimate acoustic set chronicling not only the best of Focus’s songbook, including their worldwide hits "Hocus Pocus" and "Sylvia", but also the music that inspired Sir Thijs as he grew up in Amsterdam, from Bach to jazz and rock. Focus have sold over 8.5 million albums worldwide and Thijs van Leer holds the distinction of being the first ever knighted musician in Holland for his services to music. They will be supported by John Young the keyboardist and vocalist for Lifesigns whose highly acclaimed debut album also featured Thijs van Leer and former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. 

The concerts follow on from those in October that featured Rick Wakeman, who performed on grand piano and pipe organ accompanied by the Priory choir, supported by special guest guitarist Gordon Giltrap. 

Festival board member Stuart Marshall says “We sensed that Lancaster’s historic Priory was going to be a very special venue to host some of rock music’s more classically-orientated musicians but even we were taken aback by the atmosphere in the Priory when Rick Wakeman performed with the Priory choir. These forthcoming concerts promise to be two more magical evenings in the wonderful setting of the Priory that are not to be missed!”

Tickets for both concerts are now available from ticketsource.co.uk/bandwagonevents

The Artists

A solo flautist, guitarist, singer and composer, John Hackett is best known for his work with his brother Steve Hackett, the former Genesis guitarist, performing with him on tour and on albums such as Voyage of the Acolyte and Spectral Mornings. He began by learning guitar until he took up the flute at the age of 15 after hearing Ian McDonald playing with rock band King Crimson. He has also performed with the ambient group Symbiosis and ensembles such as The English Flute Quartet and the Westminster Camerata. He is one of the few flautists in the world to play a vertical flute.

Marco Lo Muscio is an internationally-renowned organist and pianist who has played over 700 concerts in major cathedrals and at festivals around the world, as well as collaborating with John and Steve Hackett on two Playing The History albums celebrating the classic period of progressive rock. A classically trained pianist and organist, Marco is the first musician who has brought transcriptions of 'progressive music' into the concert halls and cathedrals, thrilling audiences with music by composers like Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman and Steve Hackett in this acoustic way. Marco's compositions are similarly 'progressive' in their own way. 

Sir Thijs van Leer is a founder member of the legendary Dutch band Focus who have sold over 8.5 million albums worldwide and had worldwide hits with their songs “Hocus Pocus”, “House of the King” and “Sylvia”. He was brought up with classical music, starting piano lessons at the age of 3, and played solo piano in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam at the age of 10. van Leer’s solo 1973 Introspection album was at the time the biggest selling album ever in the Netherlands. Thijs van Leer holds the distinction of being the first ever knighted musician in Holland for services to music.  

Menno Gootjes started classical piano lessons at the age of 8 and after picking up the electric guitar at age 15 he quickly developed a love for Heavy Metal, Progressive Rock and Blues. He graduated cum laude in Jazz Guitar from Rotterdam Conservatory and whilst studying he successfully auditioned for Thijs van Leer’s band Conxi in 1995 before joining the Focus reunion in 1997. He joined the reformed Focus in 2010, appearing on their Focus X and Golden Oldies albums. He also teaches guitar at the Rotterdam Conservatory Codarts, the Rockacademy in Tilburg and the Herman Brood Academy in Utrecht.

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