Out of the Shadows

Friday, 14 May 2021

A new trombone concerto, a focus on Shostakovich and his pupil Galina Ustvolskaya, Minute Masterpieces and more: Opera North's Kirklees Concert Season

Conductor Nil Venditti makes her Opera North debut (photo Marco Borrelli)
Conductor Nil Venditti makes her Opera North debut
(photo Marco Borrelli)
After a year of silence, Opera North and Kirklees Council's Kirklees Concert Season is returning to Huddersfield and Dewsbury town halls for a season of concerts running from 23 September 2021 to 7 April 2021. The season marks Opera North's new musical director, Garry Walker's concert debut with the orchestra and also marks the retirement of David Greed as leader of the orchestra since 1978! 

The season includes a focus on 20th century Russian music, a new bass trombone concerto inspired by a railway engineer, a work by Mark-Anthony Turnage inspired by writings by William Golding and entries from Opera North's Minute Masterpieces competition.

A season full of rather striking events opens with Garry Walker conducting Elgar's Cello Concerto with soloist Guy Johnston (artistic director of the Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival) alongside music by Shostakovich and Britten. Opera North's principal guest conductor Anthony Hermus joins the orchestra for the premiere of Gresley, a concerto for bass trombone and orchestra by Benjamin Ellin. The work was written for Orchestra of Opera North’s Christian Jones and 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. Anthony Hermus will also be conducting a programme which combines the Symphonic Poem No. 2 by the Russian composer Galina Ustvolskaya (1919-2006), with the First Violin Concerto by Shostakovich (Ustvolskaya's teacher) with retiring leader David Greed as soloist, plus Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra.

Nicholas Watts (Peter Quint in the company's recent performances of Britten's Turn of the Screw) is the tenor soloist in Britten's Serenade for tenor, horn and strings conducted by Garry Walker with horn player Richard Watkins, who first performed the work in 1983 with Sir Peter Pears. Also in the programme is Mark-Anthony Turnage's Drowned inspired by a terrifying account of death in the Atlantic written by William Golding, alongside Elgar's Enigma Variations.

Sian Edwards and pianist Joanna MacGregor join the orchestra for a piano-inspired concert, Gershwin's Piano Concerto alongside Ravel's orchestration of Mussorgsky's piano masterpiece Pictures at an Exhibition. And the piano remains a theme with pianist Howard Shelly in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 in an all-Beethoven concert re-scheduled from 2020. There is also the annual Christmas concert featuring the orchestra and chorus plus the company's youth ensembles. Whilst a young Italian-Turkish conductor Nil Venditti, principal guest conductor of Orchestra della Toscana, makes his company debut with a programme of Strauss waltzes for New Year's Eve.

Opera North's Minute Masterpieces competition is open to to emerging composers from all backgrounds and traditions, Minute Masterpieces offers the chance to write 60-second works for full symphony orchestra, which will also be recorded by the ensemble. Successful entries will feature throughout the season's concerts.

Sitarist and composer Jasdeep Singh Degun performing the world premiere of his sitar concerto with the Orchestra of Opera North, Huddersfield Town Hall, February 2020 (Photo Justin Slee)
Sitarist and composer Jasdeep Singh Degun performing the world premiere of his sitar concerto with the Orchestra of Opera North, Huddersfield Town Hall, February 2020 (Photo Justin Slee)

Lunchtime concerts in Dewsbury will feature members of the orchestra alongside guests including soprano Katherine Broderick, singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Alice Zawadzki, and sitarist and composer Jasdeep Singh Degun.

Full details from the Opera North website.

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