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Opera North announces Kirklees Concert Season 17-18


Opera North and Kirklees Council have announced the programme for the 2017-18 Kirklees Concert Season, bringing evening orchestral concerts from the Orchestra of Opera North and lunchtime organ recitals to Huddersfield Town Hall, lunchtime chamber concerts to Dewsbury, and a glittering festive programme to light up both venues in celebration of Christmas and New Year.

Ranging from old Europe to Hollywood, from the grandeur of the Habsburg Empire to the UK premiere of a children’s favourite, the world-renowned Orchestra of Opera North’s concerts at Huddersfield Town Hall feature an impressive array of international guest conductors and soloists:

From the Old World to the New opens the season with folk-inspired pieces from Glinka and Borodin. Moving west, Dvořák’s sweeping New World Symphony was written during his visit to the United States, and features motifs adapted from the Native American music and African American spirituals he heard during his time there. Alpesh Chauhan, Principal Conductor of Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini Parma, makes his Orchestra of Opera North debut.

An early evening family-friendly concert for half term features the first live UK performance of René Aubry’s evocative score for Stick Man, the animated story of friendship and adventure from the creators of The Gruffalo. A second Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler favourite, the enchanting, Oscar-nominated Room on the Broom follows, with a witch and her cat on a comical quest accompanied by another twinkling Aubry score.

Following high praise at the helm of Opera North’s Billy Budd, Garry Walker returns to conduct Exotic Homelands, bringing Britten’s Soirées musicales together with an earlier British masterpiece, Elgar’s First Symphony. The brilliant young Mexican American violinist and former BBC New Generation Artist Elena Urioste will join the orchestra for Mozart’s exquisite Violin Concerto No. 5.

The Orchestra performs the score to Raymond Briggs’ cherished Christmas tale The Snowman along with a live screening of the animation. Prokofiev’s enchanting Cinderella Suite opens the evening, full of mystery and wintry atmosphere, accompanied by narration from Opera North favourite John Savournin and spellbinding illustrations. The perfect way to get into the festive mood with loved ones, this concert also offers younger audiences an unforgettable introduction to the thrills, chills and power of a symphony orchestra performing live. 

Opera North’s annual Christmas Concert in Dewsbury finds celebrations in full swing, with the Orchestra joined by our Chorus, Children’s and Youth Choruses. Returning after his triumphant closing concert last season, conductor Adrian Leaper brings a distinctly Mediterranean feel from his adopted home of Spain.

Another seasonal staple, Viennese Whirl brings the cultural year in Kirklees to a glittering end with a traditional musical trip through Austria-Hungary, a world of waltzes, polkas, marches and song led this year by Justin Brown, General Music Director of Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe.

Swedish conductor Tobias Ringborg brings a programme of iconic movie soundtracks and lesser-known gems From Hollywood With Love. Classic FM presenter and Radio Times Film Editor Andrew Collins introduces themes including The Thief of Bagdad, Star Wars and The Godfather – and there’s a nod to Huddersfield’s most famous son with Bernard Herrmann’s North by Northwest, from the Hitchcock classic starring James Mason in one of his most memorably maleficent roles. 

Ben Gernon, former Dudamel Fellow with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, makes his Opera North debut with the season’s second selection from Dvořák, the joyful 8th Symphony. Former BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist and The Times’ ‘Rising Star of Classical Music’, mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge summons ‘Ocean’s shadowy might’ with Elgar’s intensely beautiful song cycle Sea Pictures. Mozart’s much-loved Symphony No. 31, ‘Paris’ opens the evening. 

The season concludes with a trip Across the Atlantic in honour of Leonard Bernstein’s centenary. His Symphonic Dances from West Side Story chart the tempestuous plot of the musical with quotations from its timeless songs. Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and John Adams’ The Chairman Dances, continue in the quintessentially American, jazzy vein. Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances, written while he was in New York, bring the concert to a colourful close. Russian pianist Sofya Gulyak, the first female winner of the Leeds International Piano Competition, joins the Orchestra under Finnish conductor Dalia Stasevska, both making their Opera North debuts.

Kirklees Borough Organist Dr. Gordon Stewart has once again programmed the Monday Lunchtime Concerts at Huddersfield Town Hall, with guests including Daniel Moult, former King’s College, Cambridge Organ Scholar Richard Gowers, and the Hallé’s co-principal trumpet Tom Osborne. Other workouts for the historic Father Wills Organ include a concert honouring the centenary of Dr Francis Jackson, some spooky treats for Halloween, the Brass Band Christmas Spectacular and a festive visit from The Choristers of Wakefield Cathedral.

At Dewsbury Town Hall, Opera North’s Director of Orchestra and Chorus, Phil Boughton, has organised this year’s Wednesday Lunchtime Chamber Concerts, in which the Company’s Piano Trio, Brass Ensemble and percussionists take centre stage. There’s a return visit for classically-trained improvising pianist and Dewsbury favourite George King, and the ever-popular Brass Band Christmas Spectacular.

Phil Boughton, Director of Orchestra and Chorus, Opera North, comments:

We’re proud of the quality of the new programme that we’ve put together through our continued collaboration with Kirklees Council. As well as welcoming back old friends, we’re delighted to be hosting several debuts from significant international artists this season. Now a Kirklees tradition, the family-friendly concerts and festive celebrations underscore our commitment to bringing world class music to the whole community, in these difficult times more than ever. Attendances last season showed us that the people of Kirklees share in that resolve, and we’re looking forward to their support for another wonderful year.

There’s also a chance for over-55s in Kirklees to get hands-on at Sing ON, Opera North’s popular programme of music and singing activity. Sessions are held every Monday from 2.00pm to 3.30pm at Batley Central Methodist Church. For more details, contact

Booking for 2017-18 Kirklees Concert Season subscription packages is now open, with general booking for individual events from 10am on Tuesday 18 July. Tickets can be booked via the Box Office on 01484 225755 and online at

Image credits:
The Orchestra of Opera North at Huddersfield Town Hall by Tom Arber
Alpesh Chauhan by Patrick Allen

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