Monday 9th December saw the Brass Section of the Orchestra of Opera North and the Chorus of Opera North give a pop-up performance of Christmas music in the Trinity Centre and it got the week off to a great start.
Once again the shoppers of Leeds stumbled across a superb surprise event staged by the amazing Opera North. We are so lucky to have such a world class ensemble in our midst and one which is not averse to treating people who would otherwise not hear them, to live music performances. They do this either by these city centre public concerts or visiting premises to entertain those not fortunate enough to be able to go to an opera house because their health or financial circumstances do not allow.
There were two performances on Monday, each lasting 25 minutes and quite a crowd built up for the first, which I attended. The programme was a mixture of Christmas Carols sung by the stunning chorus of Opera North, and more popular tunes played by the brass section of the orchestra. As you would expect this was not just an informal get together to belt out a few festive songs but a carefully arranged and rehearsed production as good as any you will hear from them in the Town Hall or Grand Theatre.
It must be said that the atmosphere was much more light hearted, as were the costumes. For costumes read frivolous headgear. The acoustics in a busy shopping precinct leave quite a lot to be desired but they sounded amazing. I don’t know what it is about brass bands and Christmas, it could be something to do with the Salvation Army Bands or because they are part of our Yorkshire heritage, but they seem made for each other.
Song sheets were distributed amongst the impromptu audience who were encouraged to join in. Some of them needed no prompting whatsoever and belted out such favourites as Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and O Come, All Ye Faithful at the top of their voices, each in their own key, but like the Olympic Games it is the taking part that counts, it wasn’t an audition.
The recital was finished off in the traditional manner with We Wish You A Merry Christmas. Well, Opera North, my Christmas has already been made merry by your performance today. I have just thrown my bag of humbug in the bin!