With our partners at Kirklees Council, we’re excited to announce details of the full programme for the next Kirklees Concert Season, with a scaled-up programme of orchestral, organ, and festive performances in Huddersfield and Dewsbury Town Halls for Kirklees Year of Music 2023, and chamber concerts extending into summer 2024.
Kirklees Concert Season 2023-24
Orchestral concerts at Huddersfield Town Hall
Our Music Director Garry Walker continues his tradition of swinging season-openers for the Orchestra of Opera North at Huddersfield Town Hall on 21 September. The Overture from Girl Crazy marks Gershwin’s 125th year, and Abreu’s exuberant Tico-Tico no fubá brings the colour and syncopation of Brazilian choro. The percussion section’s workout continues with Austrian ‘Terrorist Pianist’ Friedrich Gulda’s 1980 Cello Concerto, with the ensemble joined by Danish cellist Andreas Brantelid – one of the few soloists with this outrageous, virtuosic work in his repertoire.
A new commission from Dominican composer José Guillermo Puello is the first of five premieres of longer orchestral works written by alumni of Opera North’s Minute Masterpieces programme. Following performances of those 60-second works by emerging composers at every Kirklees orchestral concert over the past two seasons, the five new commissions continue the company’s investment in early-career talent, alongside its performance of canonical works. And they don’t come much more canonical than Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony ‘From the New World’, which rounds out the evening.
Portuguese conductor Joana Carneiro, Principal Guest Conductor of the Real Filharmonia de Galicia and Artistic Director of the Estágio Gulbenkian para Orquestra makes her Kirklees Concert Season debut in Beethoven’s Coriolanus Overture. Stephen Farr takes the console of Huddersfield’s mighty Father Willis organ for MacMillan’s Scotch Bestiary, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 closes the programme.
American conductor Andrew Grams makes another international Opera North debut, leading our Orchestra and Chorus in an evening of big ensembles, pounding rhythms and unforgettable tunes perfect for first-timers. The splendour of Holst’s Planets is followed by Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, with the full Chorus and a soloist from Opera North Young Voices joining the ensemble for ‘the most accessible piece I’ve ever written’, in the composer’s own judgement. The second new commission of the season, by London-based Israeli composer Omri Kochavi, is also unveiled.
Giving dedicated young musicians a bridge from further or higher education into the professional world of music, the Opera North Youth Orchestra is joined on its first Kirklees outing by Principal Flugelhorn of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain Phoebe Mallinson in Arutiunian’s Trumpet Concerto. Brahms’ Symphony No 2 ‘Pastoral’ and Grace Williams’ Fantasy on Welsh Nursery Tunes complete the programme under Staff Conductor Oliver Rundell.
English conductor Julia Jones begins 2024 with three heady delights from a century of French music. Ravel’s early Rapsodie espagnole was praised by Manuel de Falla for its authentic Spanish colour; Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique portrays the opium dreams of a lovelorn artist; and Saint-Saëns’ greatest piano concerto, the Second, features former Leeds International Piano Competition winner Artur Pizarro.
Steven Osborne OBE picks up the tricolore thread as soloist in Ravel’s gorgeous Piano Concerto in G major, under the baton of Opera North’s effervescent Principal Guest Conductor Antony Hermus. Unsuk Chin’s subito con forza, written for 2020’s Beethoven 250 celebrations, promises both ‘volcanic eruptions’ and ‘extreme serenity’, according to the South Korean composer; and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade paints dazzling tales and characters from The Thousand and One Nights in sound.
Nigerian-American soprano Francesca Chiejina sees out the Orchestral season with Strauss’ beautiful musical farewell, the Four Last Songs on 11 April. Garry Walker’s programme concludes with Mahler’s First Symphony, depicting life, death and nature from the awakening of spring in the first movement, to the rousing, life-affirming finale.
Lunchtime Chamber Concerts at Dewsbury Town Hall
The longest-running chamber music programme in the country continues at Dewsbury Town Hall, with some larger ensembles and performances extending into summer 2024 in store for its growing audiences. The Orchestra of Opera North’s Principal Flute Luke O’Toole and Principal Harp Céline Saout raise the curtain; then former Opera North Associate Artist and mainstage favourite Ellie Laugharne (Hansel and Gretel, The Magic Flute, Requiem) is joined by the company’s Head of Music, David Cowan, in songs ranging from Holst to Howells, and Dring to Wolf.
The second Mahler Symphony of the season is performed by musicians from the Orchestra of Opera North with Oliver Rundell. A reduced arrangement of the Fourth offers the composer’s vision of ‘The Heavenly Life’ in ecstatic clarity. Soprano and Opera North Chorister Claire Lees performs the climactic song.
Welsh tenor Dafydd Jones steps out of the title role in Opera North’s Albert Herring to join his compatriot, soprano Elin Pritchard, in songs accompanied by Assistant Head of Music Annette Saunders. Schubert’s beloved ‘Trout’ Quintet comes to life under the bows and fingers of the Opera North Piano Quintet; and Poulenc’s mischievous, melodic, and fiendishly tricky Sonata For Horn, Trumpet And Trombone is at the heart of a programme for brass trio.
The intimacy of a Dewsbury Lunchtime is a perfect setting for the timeless verve and innovation of Bach’s Third Brandenburg Concerto, with its revolutionary instrumentation of three violins, three violas, three cellos and harpsichord. Infusing 19th-century Romanticism with the glowing strokes of turn-of-the-century Impressionism, Respighi’s Violin Sonata is performed by Acting Co-Leader of the Orchestra of Opera North and Dewsbury favourite Andrew Long, with lesser-known gems from Coleridge Taylor, Fibich and more.
Our new Principal Clarinet Oliver Casanovas Nuevo makes his Dewsbury debut in Brahms’ late-flowering Trio, and our Artist in Residence Jasdeep Singh Degun follows his acclaimed debut album and triumphant mainstage opera Orpheus with a return to his roots in Indian classical music in the last concert of the chamber season.
Lunchtime Organ Concerts in Huddersfield
Following some special summer events as part of the Year of Music, Organ Curator David Pipe’s new season begins in earnest on 11 September with a joyful programme ranging from Byrd’s renaissance Fantasia to a trio of jazz preludes, and closing with Lanquetuit’s jubilant Toccata.
“Within the Year of Music, we’re delighted to welcome guest organists Jonathan Scott, known for his virtuosic YouTube series, Alessandro Bianchi, from Cantù, Italy, and Martin Baker, formerly Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral, and one of the world’s finest improvisers”, says David.
“In early 2024, we look forward to hearing Katelyn Emerson and Carolyn Craig, both prize-winning American organists, before Daniel Moult, the acclaimed Head of Organ at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, plays a thrilling programme”.
In a rare evening recital on 15 December looking forward to Christmas, David will give a complete performance of La Nativité du Seigneur, Olivier Messiaen’s glowing nine-movement meditation on Jesus’ birth. “It’s a selfish gig on my part”, he jokes. “I never tire of the work, and this will be a great chance to hear it in a non-ecclesiastical setting”.
The entire Concert Season shifts into festive mode in December, with the annual visits from the University of Huddersfield Big Band to Dewsbury and Huddersfield, and the Orchestra of Opera North’s live score for the animated version of Roald Dahl’s twisted takes on classic fairy tales in Revolting Rhymes at Huddersfield. The Orchestra, Chorus and Young Voices of Opera North gather in Dewsbury Town Hall for our Christmas Gala Concert, with Garry Walker conducting Duke Ellington’s arrangements of The Nutcracker Suite, Howard Blake’s settings of Robert Louis Stevenson, The Land of Counterpane, audience carols – and a new carol for Kirklees commissioned from Scottish composer Peter Longworth.
The Huddersfield Youth Choirs are joined by David Pipe at the organ in a seasonal lunchtime selection of Christmas music from round the world. Resident Conductor of the London Mozart Players Jonathan Bloxham takes the Orchestra for a spin in Viennese Whirl, an exuberant finale for Kirklees Year of Music 2023. A traditional selection of Strauss Family polkas, marches and waltzes is sprinkled with Romantic delights from Dvořák and Brahms, another Gershwin gem as his anniversary year draws to a close, and some treats from the Strausses’ spiritual heir, Erich Wolfgang Korngold. The ‘Blue Danube’ and The Radetzky March return to the source to complete an essential new year celebration, with soprano Alexandra Lowe (Fiordiligi in Opera North’s New Year Così fan tutte) joining the ensemble in arias and song.
Phil Boughton, Director of Orchestra and Chorus, Opera North, comments:
“We’re pleased to present the full programme for the 2023/24 Kirklees Concert Season, the second season to be part of Kirklees Year of Music. Together with our partners at Kirklees Council, Opera North has matched the ambition of the district-wide celebration of our art form with a programme of unprecedented scale and invention.
“Alongside some iconic pieces of the symphonic repertoire performed by our world-class Orchestra and Chorus with international guest artists, we’re renewing our commitment to supporting new music with our five new commissions. I’m delighted that the Chorus of Opera North will join us for Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms as well as the annual Christmas Gala, and in response to audience demand we have extended the Dewsbury Chamber Concert Season into July. David Pipe, too, has pulled out all the stops with another eclectic programme and what’s sure to be an unforgettable evening recital of Messiaen’s magisterial account of the Christmas story”.
Will Simpson, Cabinet Member for Culture and Greener Kirklees, comments:
“I’m delighted for people to hear about the upcoming concerts as part of the next Kirklees Concert Season, such a key part of our year-long celebration of music in the district with Kirklees Year of Music 2023. The concerts at our beautiful Town Halls are just one way for residents of Kirklees to hear world-class music right on their doorstep. I hope audiences will come along and experience each of the concerts in the season, each with their own unique flavour, as well as exploring the many other events taking place as part of Year of Music, celebrating both our rich musical heritage and what’s happening in the district right here and now.”
Packages for Orchestral, Chamber and Organ concerts are on sale now, offering substantial savings over single tickets. Ticket prices have been maintained from the previous two years, with seats at Orchestral concerts priced from £13 – £27, £4 for under 30s, or £1 for anyone aged 16 and under. Chamber and Organ concert tickets are still only £5. Single tickets are available to book from Thursday 1 June.
The Opera North Youth Orchestra is supported by The Keith Howard Foundation, the Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation and the Whitaker Charitable Trust. Arts scholarships are kindly supported by The Leverhulme Trust.