Opera North has announced full details of its festive concert programme. The Leeds-based company will be touring a series of performances to venues across the north of England.
The festive season starts with two concerts from the University of Huddersfield Brass Band, the first at 1pm today at Huddersfield Town Hall and the second at 12.30pm tomorrow at Dewsbury Town Hall.
Part of the Kirklees Concert Season, these annual concerts combine Christmas favourites, solo features and audience carols. Tickets cost just £5 and a handful are still available if you can get there at short notice.
A series of events for children and their families kicks off with a relaxed performance of music from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. Seating is unreserved on mats and cushions and moving around and responding naturally to the music is encouraged.
A 13-piece ensemble of players from the Orchestra of Opera North will perform ‘The Nutcracker Suite’ and other festive treats accompanied by projections from animator Tom Scott, with a chance to meet and chat to the players at the end of the performance.
Taking place at the Howard Assembly Room at 11.30am and 1.30pm on 10 December, audiences are invited to arrive half an hour early to take part in a festive craft activity in the atrium. Tickets cost £7 for children, £2 for adults, and £1 for youngsters under 1.
A double-bill of festive cheer will open with characters from The Nutcracker brought to life through music combined with pictures and storytelling. This will be followed by a live orchestral performance of the score for Raymond Briggs’s classic animation, The Snowman, including the unforgettable ‘Walking in the Air’ sung by a member of the Opera North Youth Ensemble.
The concerts take place at 6pm at Huddersfield Town Hall on 13 December (tickets cost £19.80 for adults and £9.90 for the under 16s) and 2.30pm at St George’s Hall, Bradford, on 18 December (tickets are £16 for adults and £9 for children).
On 15 December, Music for Christmas sees the Huddersfield Youth Choirs perform Christmas carols, with David Pipe at the organ. Young singers will also perform solos including works by Leroy Anderson, Andrew Carter and Richard Elliott.
The concert starts at 1pm at Huddersfield Town Hall. Tickets cost £5.
In the Opera North Youth Company Winter Performance, the company’s Children’s Chorus, Young Voices and Youth Chorus come together to perform a selection of seasonal music and dramatic extracts by Benjamin Britten, Howard Blake and more.
There are two performances, at 3.30pm and 6pm, on 17 December at Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall in Leeds. Tickets cost £8.
On 21 December, Opera North Winter Orchestra Academy, an ensemble of school-aged musicians, will share what they’ve learnt over three days playing alongside members of the Orchestra of Opera North. Expect festive favourites, wintry classical selections and a guest appearance from soprano Katie Bird.
This special performance takes place outside John Lewis in Victoria Gate, Leeds. It’s free with no need to book.
Anyone looking to give their own voice a workout should book for Sing ONwards at the Harewood Studio, Howard Opera Centre, starting at 11am on 15 December. This intermediate-level singing workshop will explore some classic choral repertoire that is often enjoyed at this time of year. Tickets cost £10.
On the same date, audiences can join the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North for a Christmas Gala. Sri Lankan-born music director of the Salzburg Landestheater Leslie Suganandarajah will conduct seasonal selections from Mendelssohn, the ‘Nutcracker Suite’, Leroy Anderson’s ‘Sleigh Ride’ and more, plus audience carols.
Taking place at Dewsbury Town Hall at 7.30pm, tickets cost £15.40.
The next day, at the Howard Assembly Room, the Tallis Scholars present Hymns to the Virgin, a selection of sacred music inspired by the Virgin Mary, from both the Catholic and Orthodox traditions, ranging from Josquin to Stravinsky.
The concert starts at 7.30pm and tickets cost £26-£34.
In Lighting the Dark: a Christmas Concert, Martin Green has gathered a host of friends to join him on a journey round the darker corners of Christmas and into the light. The accordionist is joined by Ultan O’Brien on the fiddle, composer and improviser Laura Jurd on trumpet, Danielle Price on tuba and young Glaswegian trombonist Anoushka Nanguy for a collection of some older Yuletide music and stories and a carol or two.
Awake Arise is a concert of traditional songs, folk carols, spoken word and newly written music. Award-winning trio Lady Maisery (Hannah James, Rowan Rheingans and Hazel Askew) are joined by the musical partnership of Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith to reflect on the hope and joy music can bring to us in the darkest season.
The performance will take place at 7.45pm at Howard Assembly Room on 18 December. Tickets cost £18.
Handel’s Messiah has been performed by Huddersfield Choral Society every year for well over a century and a half – with the single exception of an unavoidable interruption in 2020. This year join them, along with the Orchestra of Opera North, in Huddersfield Town Hall at 7.15pm on 20 and 21 December. Ellie Slorach conducts, with guest singers including Katie Bray and Dingle Yandell. Tickets cost £16.50-£33.
Co-produced by South Asian Arts-uk and Opera North, Winter Solstice sees master dilruba player Kirpal Singh Panesar, highly talented rabab player Saphwat Sinab and Greek composer, sound designer and lyra player Dimitris Menexopoulos create an immersive concert designed to celebrate the ancient spirit of this time of year.
The concert will take place at 7pm on 21 December at the Howard Assembly Room. Tickets cost £10.
Finally, the company will be celebrating the new year with two concerts of waltzes, polkas and galops from Vienna and beyond. The Orchestra of Opera North, guest soprano Jennifer France and conductor Christoph Altstaedt perform a Viennese Whirl at 3.30pm at Huddersfield Town Hall on 30 December (tickets cost £22) and 3pm at Hull City Hall on 31 December (tickets are £16.50-£26.50).
Opera North Young Voices will be performing a selection of seasonal favourites as part of the company’s packed programme of festive music this December (Justin Slee).