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Mark Lewisohn is privileged to witness what, for some, really was the first day of the rest of their lives

C'mon people, let the fun begin, we've got a future and it's rushing in.

            In The Paul McCartney Auditorium the music was loud, clear and joyous. Quite rightly too. The long-awaited launch of LIPA, 30 January 1996, was not only the manifestation of a truly remarkable achievement but also a great outpouring of hope - to continue the song theme, indeed, a hope of deliverance. Surely it won't be long until we see interviews with new stars of the stage or screen, or new major film producers, or new top choreographers, or - every bit as important - new talented lighting directors, all attributing their skills and conveying their thanks to LIPA.
            Although the real story for LIPA is the one that began on 31 January, the day after the guest speakers, journalists and TV cameras had left, 30 January is a date which will long be remembered. It represented nothing less than the fulfilment of a dream, a fairy tale of an idea miraculously made real. While one has no control over what might or might not be highlighted in years to come, 30 January 1996 has to be one of the landmarks in an already landmark-pocked life for Paul McCartney, an entry to be picked out in bold.

So many yearning for the way it's gonna be. Believe it when you see it happening to you. You know it's real.

            The Liverpool Institute has been transformed. Indeed, whatever else LIPA might represent or become, the reclamation of this magnificent pre-Victorian edifice, where Charles Dickens once lectured and Beatles went to school, is a great success in itself. Just five years ago the building was derelict, dark, decaying. Now it is gloriously alive, bright and airy, restored with great taste and at great cost. Even in an age of hype it is no exaggeration to state, with absolute safety, that this is a building fit for the new millennium.
            The 30th of January 1996 was a day which even Mark Featherstone-Witty, LIPA's chief executive, must have wondered would ever happen. You could see the wonderment in his face and hear it in his voice: from the germ of an idea, through literally thousands of business meetings, the virtually impossible had been accomplished. Quite rightly, Mark hosted the official presentation, delivering a heartfelt speech so moving that one wanted to jump up and shake his hand, and Mark it was who introduced in turn eleven other speakers, each of -whom stepped forward to acknowledge the import of the moment.
            There was George Martin, speaking as eloquently as ever, priming those "carrying the torch". There was Professor Anthony Field, the LIPA chairman whose commitment to the project, according to Mark Featherstone-Witty, has been "little

Club Sandwich 77