As we look forward to opening a restaurant and bar between New Briggate and the Howard Assembly Room’s new atrium this summer, we’re delighted to announce a batch of events stretching into June, bringing bands and artists from around the world, film screenings, workshops, recitals and more to our magnificent wood-vaulted venue.
Summer in the Howard Assembly Room
There’s a rare chance to catch West Africa’s first all-female supergroup on an intimate scale on 22 June. Les Amazones’ joyous brew of afrobeat, funk and reggae found an early fan in Barack Obama, and the heady roots and electronic grooves of their second album Amazones Power carry hard-hitting messages and pressure for social change. The current line-up features founder member Mamani Keïta, Ivorian singer and member of Na Afriki, Dobet Gnahoré, and Beninese vocalist Fafa Ruffino.
Led by the renowned baritone sax player and composer, another all-star female ensemble pays a special visit in association with Jazz Leeds as part of the inaugural Leeds Jazz Festival on 5 June. Preceding their concert, a free open rehearsal offers the chance to hear the group – whose line-up includes the brilliant MOBO Award-winning pianist Zoe Rahman, and Leeds Conservatoire’s Caroline Boaden on drums – running through works by emerging female composers, specially written for the gig with the support of Issie and her bandmates. A selection of the works will then be performed at the 4pm show, as part of two sets built around INTERCHANGE’s thrillingly eclectic debut album Donna’s Secret.
There’s an earlier treat for jazz fans on 21 May in the company of one of Norway’s most celebrated musicians, pianist and composer Tord Gustavsen. Joined by his regular drummer Jarle Vespestad and bassist Steinar Raknes, he gives his long-awaited ninth album for the legendary ECM Records an airing.
Returning to West Africa, Howard Assembly Room favourites Seckou Keita and Catrin Finch continue their extraordinary dialogue between Senegal and Wales, the kora and the harp on 22 May. The multi-award-winning duo’s third album ECHO takes their magical collaboration to new heights, bridging genres and continents with mesmerising beauty and virtuosity.
Last seen in the Howard Assembly Room in his longstanding piano duo with Peter Donohoe, the great Martin Roscoe returns on 28 May in a more recent partnership, with the exceptional violinist Tai Murray. In an inspired programme put together by the Chicago-born former BBC New Generation Artist, works by both Clara and Robert Schumann play off minimalist classics from John Adams and Arvo Pärt, with Schubert’s Violin Sonata No. 4 a suitably Grand climax to the evening.
Members of the refugee and asylum seeker community have long been welcomed to events at the Howard Assembly Room as part of Opera North’s Community Partnerships programme, but the diverse traditions, artistry and resilience of displaced people are celebrated on the venue’s stage itself on 23 June. Part of Opera North’s ongoing work as a Theatre of Sanctuary, this evening of short performances by singers, musicians and ensembles marks Refugee Week.
The first instalment sold out within hours, but there’s another chance to try the Howard Assembly Room’s new Restorative Yoga sessions with live music led by teacher Gerry Turvey on 20 May.
Another popular innovation, the venue’s film screenings with a live musical prelude continue on 25 May with The Seventh Seal. Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 masterpiece stars the late, great Max von Sydow as a medieval knight locked in a chess game with the terrifying figure of Death.
All events are on sale now, along with the Howard Assembly Room’s full programme. Spring highlights include the return of Tuvan throat singers Huun-Huur-Tu (1 April), Syrian qanun virtuoso Maya Youssef with a quartet from the Orchestra of Opera North (9 April), and Leeds Lieder Festival (28 April – 1 May). For selected events, discounts are available to anyone aged 16-29 or in full-time education as part of our U30s scheme.