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International acts mark Howard Assembly Room's first year back

With our much-anticipated new restaurant, Kino, opening downstairs in July, the Howard Assembly Room has announced a programme of concerts and events running from autumn into 2023, marking the first year of the historic Leeds venue’s return since refurbishment.

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With West Africa’s all-female supergroup Les Amazones d’Afrique due to warm up for their Glastonbury appearance at the intimate venue on 22 June, there’s more music from Africa and beyond to look forward to. Virtuoso Malian ngoni player Bassekou Kouyate and his band return on 1 June 2023, coaxing heroic riffs from his electrified goatskin and wood lute.

Inspired by the desert blues of Mali as much as American roots music, guitarist and producer Justin Adams brings his visionary collaboration with Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino’s singer and violinist Mauro Durante to Leeds on 4 November 2022.

Another cross-continental collaboration, sitarist Roopa Panesar’s Opera North commission for the PRS New Music Biennial, finds her in collaboration with pianist Al MacSween and Camilo Tirado (sound design, electronics). Inspired by traditional Hindustani baithak concerts, The Crossing (18 September) promises a spontaneous exchange between the trio – and the audience, whose proximity and reactions will influence the path of the music.

On 23 June, an evening of performances by musicians and singers from the refugee and asylum seeker community celebrates the diverse traditions, artistry and resilience of displaced people to mark Refugee Week.

Our successful partnerships with the Brudenell Social Club continue, with the room’s impeccable acoustic providing the perfect stage for the Brud’s more contemplative bookings. California-born, Manchester-based singer songwriter Jesca Hoop brings songs from her latest, John Parish-produced album on 4 December; Leeds post-rockers I Like Trains perform a hometown show on 1 October; and the Brudenell’s Piano Sessions, hosted and curated by Simeon Walker, return to the Howard’s Steinway D on 26 June.

On 21 August Joan As Police Woman follows her sold out 2018 appearance with material from her new album, made under lockdown and influenced by a magical late night session with the late, great Tony Allen – who played another unforgettable show here in 2018.

Musician and composer Arthur Jeffes brings his Penguin Cafe ensemble back on 15 September, with avant-pop inflected with folk, classical, and minimalism from their recent rerelease A Matter Of Life… and favourites from their back catalogue. The Manchester Camerata Ensemble makes its venue debut on 29 October with Unquiet, a programme of a new music for the brave and curious, including a new piece written and performed by Norwegian-Mexican artist/producer Carmen Villain, Robert Ames and Ben Corrigan’s meeting of electronic and classical, CARBS, and works by Bryce Dessner, AFRODEUTSCHE, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Philip Glass, and Mica Levi.

With a Leeds Jazz Festival set from Issie Barratt’s all-female INTERCHANGE recorded at the venue airing on BBC Radio 3 on 18 June, there’s more stellar jazz to look forward to with Espen Eriksen Trio, joined by award-winning saxophonist and composer Andy Sheppard for numbers from their In The Mountains album (26 November). For Jamaica Society Leeds’ Out of Many Festival, the legendary Courtney Pine returns to the bass clarinet on 12 October to debut new material from his forthcoming album Spirituality, joined by a string quartet and his brilliant duo partner – and INTERCHANGE pianist – Zoe Rahman.

Celebrating Jamaica’s far-reaching cultural influence and the 60th year of the island’s independence, Out of Many launch their literature strand with an evening of conversation between two Poets Laureate, Olive Senior (JA) and Simon Armitage (UK) on 4 October. 7 October finds internationally-lauded, multi-award winning dub poetry pioneer and activist Linton Kwesi Johnson in conversation with acclaimed author and broadcaster Gary Younge.

Leeds International Festival of Ideas brings more spoken word, debate and guests including Yotam Ottolenghi, Aisling Bea and Jamali Maddix to the Howard Assembly Room in September.

The venue’s scale and sound have made it a destination for folk and roots acts from both sides of the Atlantic, and on 25 November – all the way from Robin Hood’s Bay – Eliza Carthy MBE celebrates 30 years in the business with her band The Restitution, performing reworkings of some of her greatest hits and selections from her three Mercury Award-nominated albums. Deeply rooted in the landscape and traditions of Northumbria, Kathryn Tickell and The Darkening mingle ancient tunes and songs with new material and a contemporary attitude on 22 October. The only three-time winner of Best Singer at the Scots Trad Music Awards, and Best Traditional Track winner at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Midlothian-born, Glasgow-based folk singer and songwriter Siobhan Miller stops off on 2 October.

Writer and former frontman of Richmond Fontaine Willy Vlautin is back with The Delines on 9 November. His stories of life on the ragged fringes have been made into acclaimed feature films (The Motel Life and Lean on Pete), and the same gift for narrative and atmosphere illuminates their songs, delivered with burnished country soul by vocalist Amy Boone.

Looking to Christmas, Awake Arise (18 December) sees award-winning trio Lady Maisery (Hannah James, Rowan Rheingans and Hazel Askew) joined by Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith in traditional songs, folk carols, spoken word and new music amid the venue’s festive glow.

After last year’s sold-out live soundtrack to Nosferatu, Leeds City Organist Darius Battiwalla is back this Halloween to accompany the 1925 Universal horror The Phantom of the Opera. In DIY makeup inspired by Nosferatu’s Orlok, the phenomenal Lon Chaney brings unexpected poignancy to the Phantom, giving the film a ‘creepy, undeniable power’ (Roger Ebert) that endures.

Also back by popular demand, Carnival of the Animals (10 September) takes young children and their families on a wonderful, interactive journey with the music of Saint-Saëns, performed by a 14-piece ensemble from the Orchestra of Opera North. Opera North’s Orpheus season opens with another family-friendly performance on 21 June: A Tale of Orpheus & Eurydice is joyful 45-minute exploration of love, music, and hope for the future. Performers from Opera North’s forthcoming mainstage reworking of Monteverdi’s opera weave western baroque and South Asian traditions in a perfect introduction to this timeless myth – and opera itself – for audiences of all ages.

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The Howard Assembly Room is generously supported by The Keith Howard Foundation.


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