Opera North and Kirklees Council have announced the Kirklees Concert Season 2022-23, leading into Kirklees Year of Music 2023 with an all-embracing programme featuring orchestral masterpieces, international guest conductors and soloists, the opening night of the latest of Opera North’s famed concert stagings, lunchtime organ recitals, seasonal favourites for Christmas and New Year, traditional Indian music, and world premieres of brand-new compositions.
Over the past two decades, Opera North’s unique partnership with Kirklees Council has continued the West Yorkshire district’s long tradition of world-class music-making. Drawing on this legacy, Kirklees Year of Music 2023 will bring the richness and diversity of the area’s musical culture to a wider audience than ever, with Kirklees Concert Season at the heart of a programme of events in all genres throughout the district.
Conducted by Opera North’s Music Director Garry Walker, a transatlantic programme of symphonic jazz provides a swinging, syncopated curtain-up for orchestral concerts at Huddersfield Town Hall on 15 September. Julian Bliss joins the Orchestra of Opera North as soloist in Copland’s Clarinet Concerto, followed by another showcase for the instrument by Artie Shaw. Gershwin’s An American in Paris, HK Gruber’s Manhattan Broadcasts and Duke Ellington’s bona fide, blues-drenched Harlem complete a thrilling account of the exchange between club and concert stage.
On 20 October the Orchestra follows its celebrated summer concert performances of Wagner’s epic Parsifal with a similar treatment for Gluck’s 1774 opera Orfeo ed Euridice: a stripped-back opportunity to glory in the music, with the ensemble centre-stage and singers in their midst. Fflur Wyn (Euridice) and Daisy Brown (Amor) reprise their roles from Opera North’s filmed lockdown concert staging, with Alice Coote as Orfeo and the Company’s Principal Guest Conductor Antony Hermus on the podium.
1 December brings Opera North debuts from extraordinary young pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason, soloist in Dohnányi’s Variations on a Nursery Tune, and Music Director of the Richmond Symphony Valentina Peleggi, conducting a programme completed by Puccini’s Preludio Sinfonico and Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony.
For Christmas, there’s a double helping of festive enchantment with a screening of The Snowman with a live soundtrack from the Orchestra, and the story of The Nutcracker told through Tchaikovsky‘s twinkling music, live narration and captivating illustrations (13 December). Dewsbury Town Hall is the venue for the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North’s traditional Christmas Gala, with another debut from Music Director of the Salzburg Landestheater Leslie Suganandarajah, conducting the ensemble in a selection of carols and Christmas favourites.
The Radetzky March and other Strauss essentials herald the New Year under the baton of Christoph Altstaedt in Viennese Whirl on 30 December, complemented by more waltzes, polkas and galops from Vienna and beyond, with guest soprano Jennifer France.
Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg follows his triumphant Huddersfield performance of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto as soloist in Prokofiev’s brilliantly inventive Third on 26 January 2023. Shostakovich’s gripping Tenth Symphony closes the evening, with Antony Hermus back on the podium.
Picking up from last season’s magnificent Enigma Variations, Garry Walker conducts another of Elgar’s enduring mysteries, his haunting Violin Concerto – famous for its incomplete dedication – on 9 February. Mexican-American violinist Elena Urioste returns to Huddersfield as soloist; Sally Beamish’s 1999 The Day Dawn opens the evening, and Nielsen’s Second Symphony, ‘The Four Temperaments’, concludes.
Canadian conductor Jordan de Souza, former First Kapellmeister of the Komische Oper Berlin, makes his Kirklees Concert Season debut alongside remarkable Norwegian trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth in Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto on 6 April. Another pivotal early-career work, Strauss’ tone poem Don Juan captures the mythic libertine’s hot-blooded lust for life – and his submission to a melancholy end. Brahms’ First Symphony draws the orchestral season to an elegant close.
Successful entries to Opera North’s Minute Masterpieces competition will continue to receive their premiere performances at each of the orchestral concerts. Open to emerging composers from all backgrounds and traditions, Minute Masterpieces offers the chance to write 60-second works for full symphony orchestra, which are performed and recorded by the ensemble.
The Orchestra of Opera North’s Dewsbury Chamber Concert Season continues to put small ensembles from the Orchestra and special guests in the spotlight. Acting Co-Leader Andy Long (violin) is joined by pianist Ian Buckle for Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata on 21 September, and on 12 October there’s a special guest appearance from Eeshar Singh, a virtuoso player of the santoor (a hammered dulcimer), accompanied in traditional North Indian music by tabla and tanpura.
Fflur Wyn returns for a set of folk-inspired songs from Wales, Europe and America on 23 November, accompanied by Opera North’s Head of Music David Cowan. Concertmaster of Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra Andrew Beer joins string players from the Orchestra in Dvořák’s Piano Quintet No. 2 on 25 January, and there’s an outing for the Opera North String Quartet on 15 February.
To celebrate both the 50th anniversary of the Royal Northern College of Music and the 10th anniversary of Opera North’s brass placement scheme there, students and Opera North players combine forces for a rousing concert of brass ensemble music to close the season on 1 March.
Monday organ concerts continue in Huddersfield, with David Pipe curating a lively series of guest appearances on the historic Father Willis organ. Town Hall debuts include Francesca Massey (Rochester) and Ourania Gassiou (Megaron, Athens), and much-loved Borough Organist Emeritus Gordon Stewart returns on 13 February 2023. David’s own concerts include a dramatic programme for Halloween, and a joyously eclectic season-closer bringing together works by Alfred Hollins, Florence Price, Gershwin and more on 27 March 2023.
Phil Boughton, Director of Orchestra and Chorus, Opera North, said,“Our collective experience of the pandemic reinforced the importance of culture in our daily lives, as so many of us craved the shared experience of a live music event.
“Kirklees Year of Music in 2023 will be a fitting tribute to the building back that has taken place across the cultural sector, as we strive to welcome audiences back to the concert halls and venues of the region to celebrate together once again.
“From intimate chamber music in Dewsbury to uplifting orchestral works and an international programme of organ concerts in Huddersfield, the Kirklees Concert Season 2022-23 season will be the perfect overture to a year of celebration of the musical ecology of Kirklees”.
Gerry Walker conducts Opera North Orchestra
Cllr Will Simpson, Cabinet Member for Culture and Greener Kirklees, said, “It’s a thrill to see this exciting programme as we approach Kirklees Year of Music 2023. Our long-established concert series plays an important role in the enjoyment and appreciation of music in the district.
“We’re especially keen to bring more people together to share the experience of great music in 2023, so l encourage everyone to book early and bring a friend!”
Outside of the Concert Season, Huddersfield Town Hall hosts the world premiere of a large-scale Opera North commission for Julia Holter, part of Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 2023, on 23 November. Joined by her band and the 36-strong Chorus of Opera North, the Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter and composer will venture into astonishing and beautiful new territory with her live soundtrack for Carl Theodor Dreyer’s visionary 1928 silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc.
Kirklees Concert Season subscription packages, offering discounts on tickets and programmes and access to rehearsals, are available to book now via kirklees.gov.uk
Single tickets go on sale on Tuesday 5 July, and can be booked at kirklees.gov.uk or operanorth.co.uk. Anyone aged 16 or under can see an orchestral concert for just £1, and tickets for under 30s and full-time students are priced at £4.
Main image: Isata Kanneh-Mason