We’re preparing to unpack the sleigh bells and carol sheets to bring the sounds of Christmas back to Yorkshire, as families and friends are reunited and there’s a chance to celebrate with music and singing in person once again.
Christmas 2021 at Opera North
Christmas 2021 in Leeds
At the centre of Opera North’s music-making are our Orchestra and Chorus. At The Venue, Leeds Conservatoire on 18 December, their Christmas contribution to Leeds International Concert Season combines holy and secular – from O Little Town of Bethlehem to Walking in the Air – under the baton of Chorus Master Oliver Rundell.
The Howard Assembly Room
One of Leeds’ most atmospheric, intimate venues, the Victorian vaulted Howard Assembly Room comes into its own at Christmas. After two years of closure, the hoardings have been removed to reveal a fully accessible venue with a beautiful new atrium, bars – and an expanded programme of seasonal events as imaginatively curated as ever.
On 4 December, director Elia Kazan’s Oscar-winning debut (1945) chronicles the hardscrabble life of an Irish American family in the tenements of Brooklyn over two Decembers, bringing grief, joy and eventual redemption.
On 11 December the return of the Howard Assembly Room’s Christmas concert offers a welcome respite from the bustle of shopping, offering festive sounds from a hand-picked ensemble, including works by Bach and Britten and folk carols from around the world. There’s limited availability for the first performance at 5.30pm, with a second performance at 7.45pm.
Exploring the darker side of long winter nights in flickering shadows and folklore, The Furrow Collective return with a special festive programme on 12 December. The Anglo-Scottish folk band brings together four talented artists, each a Howard Assembly Room favourite in their own right: Lucy Farrell, Rachel Newton, Emily Portman and Alasdair Roberts.
South Asian Arts-uk make a welcome return to the venue on 21 December with a celebration of the Winter Solstice from Carnatic singer Supriya Nagarajan and collaborator Duncan Chapman, joined by members of the Orchestra of Opera North for a live take on their 2020 album Dusk Notes, with immersive projections and lighting. With a programme in celebration of the Virgin Mary ranging from Josquin to Stravinsky, The Tallis Scholars’ visit on 16 December is already sold out.
Christmas 2021 events for families
Tom Hanks narrates the reawakening of a young boy’s belief in Santa Claus via a runaway train ride in this charming motion-capture animation, featuring the Grammy Award-winning song Believe. Families can enjoy Christmassy crafts and colouring-in before the screening in the Howard Assembly Room on 19 December.
A double bill of favourite Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler animations for all the family comes to the big screen at Huddersfield Town Hall on 21 December, with the full Orchestra of Opera North performing the soundtracks live. A tiny snail hitches a ride on the tail of a huge humpback whale for a lift around the world; and to complete the evening, a happy-go-lucky Stick Man is separated from his family… will he make it home in time for Christmas?
School-aged musicians can take their instrumental skills to the next level during the holidays with a Winter Orchestra Academy, running from Monday 20 – Wednesday 22 December in our new education facilities in the Howard Opera Centre, Leeds. Limited places are available, but there will be a chance for everyone to see the results of their hard work at a free concert of festive music, bringing the young players together with members of the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North in Leeds Corn Exchange from 3.45pm on 22 December.
Christmas 2021 in Huddersfield and Dewsbury
Kirklees Concert Season’s festivities get underway with the magnificent Town Halls decorated for Christmas and the warm glow of the University Of Huddersfield Brass Band (6 December in Huddersfield; 8 December in Dewsbury). Guest Curator of the Organ Season David Pipe is joined by the Huddersfield Youth Choirs on 20 December, with carols for all to sing and Huddersfield’s historic Father Willis organ heard both solo, in music by Adolphe Adam, Howard Blake and Richard Elliott, and joined by the young voices.
Opera North’s Christmas Concert returns to Dewsbury Town Hall, promising seasonal favourites, including Will Todd’s Jazz Carols and music by Yorkshire born composer Angela Morley, performed by the Orchestra, Chorus and Youth Chorus, and conducted by Chorus Master Oliver Rundell.
If the tribulations of 2021 have left you anticipating the New Year a little more eagerly than usual, the Orchestra will be on hand for some traditional waltzes, marches, polkas and song at Huddersfield Town Hall on 30 December. Making her Opera North debut, young Italian-Turkish conductor Nil Venditti, Principal Guest Conductor of Orchestra della Toscana, takes the podium, with Irish soprano Máire Flavin joining the ensemble for songs and arias by Lehár and others.
New Year's Eve in Hull
Ahead of our mainstage visits to Hull New Theatre with Rigoletto and Carmen in early 2022, we return to the city with a very special New Year’s Eve date for the Viennese Whirl at Hull City Hall. Join Nil, Máire and the Orchestra at 3pm on 31 December as the sounds of the City of Music come to the East Riding.