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Open-air symphony spectacular welcomes 80s legends back to Leeds!

Bananarama, Johnny Hates Jazz, Midge Ure and voice of Five Star Denise Pearson have been announced as the special guest artists for the fifth edition of 80s Classical in Millennium Square, Leeds as part of next year’s Summer Series on Saturday 20 July 2024.

The 80s legends will be joined by Leeds’ very own Orchestra of Opera North for a trip back to the musically momentous decade, taking their chart-topping hits to new heights with the expanded power of the 50-piece orchestra.

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80s Classical debuted in Leeds in 2019, bringing a roster of pop legends together with the symphonic might of Opera North’s musicians. The 2024 sequel welcomes one of the most influential female groups in music history, Bananarama, to the Millennium Square stage. With an illustrious career spanning over four decades and recently having celebrated their 40th anniversary, the legendary British duo, made up of Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward, have achieved unparalleled global acclaim propelled by four US Billboard Top 10’s including a No. 1 with Venus, releasing 12 studio albums and selling over 30 million records.

“We are so excited to be involved in such a unique and exciting concert which is a fitting way to continue our 40th anniversary celebrations” says Sara. “Leeds is such a vibrant city to visit and perform in and we can’t wait to take to the stage in the iconic Millennium Square with such a talented array of musicians on what is going to be a truly magical occasion for everyone” adds Keren.

Legendary British duo Banarama, made up of Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward

Sophisti-pop icons Johnny Hates Jazz – singer and keyboardist Clark Datchler and multi-instrumentalist and producer Mike Nocito – will return for their third appearance after performing at the inaugural date in 2019 and again in 2022, reprising their hit records including ‘Shattered Dreams’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Be A Hero’.

A new addition to the 80s Classical family is Ivor-Novello and Grammy-award winner Midge Ure, whose musical journey spans Slik, The Rich Kids, Ultravox, and the historic Band Aid. The Scottish musician and singer-songwriter will join the stellar line-up to perform orchestrally enhanced versions of some of his most iconic songs, including ‘Vienna’ and ‘If I Was’.

Denise Pearson – the official voice of British pop group Five Star will be returning to the bill for next summer’s show after dazzling the crowds in 2022, performing a selection of the band’s timeless hits including ‘System Addict’ and ‘Rain or Shine’.

The brilliant 80s Classical ensemble of backing vocalists, Bianca Claxton, Nathan James and Adetoun Anibi, return to perform a bonus selection of crowd-pleasing favourites including Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Holding Out for a Hero’ and The Jackson’s ‘Can You Feel It’ amongst many more.

Deniece Pearson – the official voice of British pop group Five Star © Andy Futers

Organised by Leeds City Council in partnership with Opera North, the creative team behind 80s Classical is renowned composer, arranger and conductor Cliff Masterson together with long-time collaborator and Musical Director Steve Anderson. Steve, who has recently been in Las Vegas producing the first ever residency show for Kylie Minogue says, “we’re absolutely delighted to be able to welcome Bananarama and Midge Ure into the 80s Classical family and we can’t wait for everyone to see them perform for the first time alongside the magnificent Orchestra of Opera North”. Cliff adds “Everyone knows the iconic songs of such a generation defining era and we are so thrilled and grateful to be trusted with the responsibility of re-imaging such cherished songs. With two brand-new artists performing this year alongside the return of Johnny Hates Jazz and Deniece Pearson, this is set to be yet another epic night of drama and excitement in Leeds not to be missed”.

Phil Boughton, Director of Orchestra and Chorus, Opera North, comments:
“The fifth year of 80s Classical is shaping up to be an absolute classic building on the success of the previous years. We have built a reputation for the Orchestra of Opera North performing alongside iconic pop acts and so I am thrilled Bananarama and Midge Ure are joining the list of legends to have been part of this joyous night in Leeds. We are delighted to continue our partnership with Leeds City Council and to showcase the range of musical talent as part of the brilliant Summer Series in the heart of our city.”

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education said: “We’re thrilled to announce that visitors will be able to experience the unique talents of the Orchestra of Opera North at the heart of the city as they enjoy to some classic 80s hits. It’s always exciting to welcome people to Millennium Square to watch musical performances from an eclectic programme of talented artists as part of our annual Summer Series. These performances are always one of the highlights of what is a vibrant calendar of events in Leeds, and I’m sure next summer will be no different.”

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