Opera North (ON), in partnership with Kirklees Council, has announced a full programme of orchestral, chamber and organ events for the Kirklees Concert Season 2021-22.

Opening in September, the schedule at Huddersfield Town Hall includes a belated birthday celebration for Beethoven, music from the 20th century, a world premiere and new commissions from emerging composers. Intimate chamber concerts with small ensembles from the Orchestra of Opera North return to Dewsbury Town Hall on Wednesday lunchtimes.

Monday lunchtime concerts on Huddersfield Town Hall’s famous Father Willis organ include guest debuts, works by contemporary composers alongside more traditional repertoire and the return of former borough organist Dr Gordon Stewart.

Garry Walker takes to the podium on 23 September for his first Kirklees concert as Opera North’s music director. He opens the season with a programme of 20th-century works comprising Elgar’s Cello Concerto (1919), Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony (1937) and Britten’s A Time There Was (1974). The first will be performed by former BBC Young Musician of the Year Guy Johnston.

“I’m delighted to be, at last, back in Kirklees and able to bring this great selection of programmes to our beloved audiences,” Walker commented. “We’ve missed you! I’m particularly proud of the variety and balance of the overall season, which will show off the flexibility, excellence and virtuosity of our orchestra and chorus. I feel there’s something here for everyone.

“The last year has been incredibly tough for us all – for Opera North, for our audiences and for our communities – so it is with a real sense of enthusiasm that we return to live music making with audiences.”

On 7 October Opera North’s Principal Guest Conductor Antony Hermus will lead the world premiere of Gresley, a concerto for bass trombone and orchestra by acclaimed British composer Benjamin Ellin. Written for trombonist Christian Jones, the piece is an exploration of the rebuilding of the human spirit after great loss, inspired by the life of the railway engineer and inventor of the Mallard and the Flying Scotsman. Mendelssohn’s concert overture Fingal’s Cave (1833) – also known as The Hebrides – opens the concert, while Brahms’s Symphony No 2 (1877) completes the evening.

Pianist Joanna MacGregor is the soloist for Gershwin’s jazz and blues-inflected Piano Concerto (1925) on 2 December. Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s 10-piece musical suite Pictures at an Exhibition (1886) will also be performed, with the Orchestra of Opera North under Sian Edwards’s baton.

The Opera North Christmas Concert returns to Dewsbury Town Hall on 16 December, with a programme of seasonal sounds both old and new from the company’s orchestra, chorus and youth chorus conducted by Chorus Master Oliver Rundell. On 21 December, the orchestra will accompany a double bill of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler animations, The Snail and Whale and Stick Man, on the big screen in Huddersfield Town Hall. Viennese Whirl ends the festive season on 30 December with a selection of Strauss waltzes, while young Italian-Turkish conductor Nil Venditti makes her Opera North debut.

Heading into the new year, 27 January will see pianist Howard Shelley conducting a combined celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth and Shelley’s own 70th year, originally planned for 2020. The rescheduled concert features Beethoven’s third Leonore overture, the Fourth Piano Concerto and the Fifth Symphony.

A 27 February concert at Huddersfield Town Hall is a celebration of the music of Shostakovich and Bartók. Leader of the orchestra David Greed steps forward as soloist in the former’s First Violin Concerto (1955). The latter’s Concerto for Orchestra (1944) is one of the composer’s last and most popular compositions. The evening’s programme opens with Symphonic Poem No 2 by Galina Ustvolskaya (1957), a pupil of Shostakovich.

The Kirklees Concert Season closes with a mixed programme comprising Britten’s song-cycle Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings (1943), Mark Anthony Turnage’s orchestral work Drowned Out (1992) and Elgar’s Enigma Variations (1899).

Successful entries to Opera North’s Minute Masterpieces competition will receive their premiere performances during the orchestral concerts. Open to emerging composers from all backgrounds and traditions, this initiative offered the chance to write 60-second works for a full symphony orchestra, which will also be recorded by the ensemble.

A full programme of lunchtime concerts will also take place throughout the season. Wednesdays at Dewsbury Town Hall will feature the Orchestra of Opera North and guests including award-winning soprano Katherine Broderick, singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Alice Zawadzki and sitarist and composer Jasdeep Singh Degun. Monday organ concerts at Huddersfield Town Hall include Katherine Dienes-Williams conducting a selection of Elgar and Bach alongside contemporary composers and a Christmas concert by the Huddersfield Catholic Youth Choirs.

For more information and to book tickets visit ON’s website.



Opera North’s Music Director Garry Walker opens the Kirklees Concert Season with a programme of 20th-century works (Justin Slee).