Opera North Blog

It Takes Two: Unusual collaborations in the Howard Assembly Room

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This Autumn, the Howard Assembly Room in Leeds presents a season inspired by unusual collaborations including Tigran Hamasyan & Yerevan State Choir, Richard Dawson & Aşıq Nargile, and Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita. We spoke to Projects Manager Jo Nockels about what makes these collaborations so special.

 

Why is bringing together different art forms and artists so important for Opera North Projects?

Bringing together interesting collaborations between artists and art forms is one of Opera North Projects main reasons for being. The programme takes the idea of opera being the original multimedia art form as a starting point and looks at putting together its elements in new and surprising ways. Many Howard Assembly Room seasons involve artists from very different backgrounds working together, but this Autumn is particularly rich in artistic partnerships, from musical marriages made in heaven to juxtapositions of vastly different styles that throw light on one another.

Explain the thinking behind It Takes Two, one of the strands in the Howard Assembly Room Autumn Season.

The themes in the Assembly Room programme could almost always have a question mark after them. We aim to draw together interesting collections of things that may illuminate an idea, but that are always open and curious.

How did some of these collaborations come about?

The artists playing at the Assembly Room in the Autumn got together in different ways; for singer Richard Dawson and Georgian musician Aşıq Nargile, it was being on the same bill at a festival, for classical harpist Catrin Finch and inspired kora player Seckou Keita it was about exploring the similarities in the traditions of their instruments. Here is a video of Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita combining forces to explore the traditions of Wales and Senegal.

Which collaborations are you most excited to see this Autumn?

It's very hard to choose of course, but I am definitely very excited about Luys i Luso, the concert by jazz pianist Tigran Hamasyan and the Yerevan State Choir. I love Armenian music, particularly Armenian national composer Komitas and Tigran is such an inventive arranger of music that I can't wait to hear them together. Leeds is the only place in the UK they are performing apart from Union Chapel in London so I feel very lucky they are coming to play here.

If you could gather any musicians or musical groups for a one-off collaboration in the Howard Assembly Room, who would it be?

There are dozens of possible collaborations running through my head all the time - some of which may one day happen and some which almost certainly won't!  Among existing collaborations, it would be amazing to see Scott Walker and Sunn O)))'s collaboration or the Kronos Quartet with the Alim Qasimov Ensemble play here at the Howard Assembly Room.

The Howard Assembly Room Autumn season is now on sale. To find out more and to book click here.

Photo of Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita by Andy Morgan

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