This edition of my Christmas series is a little different. Does that mean it’s funny? Don’t be daft! Up to now I have been to all the events I have written about as they are running for some time, but these are one-offs so I really need to let you know about them in advance. As they are from Opera North I can confidently recommend them.

The first item on the agenda is the return of the Christmas Concert at Howard Assembly Room on Saturday, 11th December. There are two performances; one at 5.30pm with another at 7.45pm. The title of this year’s presentation is Winter Wonderland and comprises Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Britten’s Festival of Carols, Gabriel’s Message and Carol of Bells. The performers are a troupe of guest musicians led by violinist David Le Page with singers from the Chorus of Opera North providing the vocals. Tickets are £8.50 and are in limited supply so book now at https://www.operanorth.co.uk/whats-on/har-christmas-concert-winter-wonderland/#book

David Le Page

The following day, Sunday 12th December, The Furrow Collective, the Anglo-Scottish folk band will be performing a festive programme entitled We Know By The Moon. They comprise four Howard Assembly Room regulars; Lucy Farrell, Rachel Newton, Emily Portman and Alasdair Roberts. To book go to https://www.operanorth.co.uk/whats-on/furrow-collective/book/224802/ The show begins at 7.45 and tickets are £17.50 but there are also concessions.

The Furrow Collective, obviously looking to see who will get the next round in.

On Thursday, 16th December at 7.30pm the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North present their Christmas Concert along with the Opera North Youth Chorus at Dewsbury Town Hall. The conductor is Oliver Rundell and the programme contains a variety of genres ranging from The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year to Silent Night, through Trittico Botticelliano and many others. Tickets are from £14 but concessions are available. For bookings please go to https://www.operanorth.co.uk/whats-on/the-opera-north-christmas-concert/book/240202/

Orchestra of Opera North

For those of more tender years, Howard Assembly Room has a Family Film on 19th December, which is The Polar Express narrated by Tom Hanks. The start time is 3.00pm but if you get there early there will be some colouring in and Christmassy crafts in the foyer. There might even be something for the children! Tickets are £6.00 and are already limited in availability https://www.operanorth.co.uk/whats-on/family-film-polar-express/

The Polar Express

21st December sees a double whammy with the Orchestra of Opera North performing live soundtracks to two animated films by Julia Donaldson; Stick Man and The Snail and the Whale. These are at Huddersfield Town Hall and begin at 6.00pm. Tickets are £18.00 for adults and £9.00 for those who are 16 and under. See https://www.operanorth.co.uk/whats-on/the-snail-and-the-whale/ for more details and bookings.

The Snail and the Whale

The other event on 21st is Winter Solstice, a lights and music presentation in partnership with South Asian Arts-UK. It begins at 6.30pm at Howard Assembly Room and tickets are £10. https://www.operanorth.co.uk/whats-on/winter-solstice/ The work is a performance of tracks from the album Dusk Notes by Supriya Nagarajan and Duncan Chapman There will also be some new works with musicians from the Orchestra of Opera North.

Supriya Nagarajan. Winter Solstice

Here’s something you will be interested in. As the culmination of a Winter Orchestra Academy for school aged musicians, members of the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North will be joining the graduates to put on a free – yes free – concert at Leeds Corn Exchange on Wednesday 22nd December at 3.45pm. It should look great as well as sound great as the building has been amazingly decorated.

Winter Orchestra Academy

Finally, we have the New Year celebration entitled Vienese Whirl. As the name suggests it is a celebration of all things Austrian and joins in with the tradition of the New Year’s Day concert in, you guessed it, Vienna. There will be works by the various Strausses, or should that be Strice, Lehár and others. There will be all the favourites such as The Blue Danube and the Radetzky March as well as more waltzes and polkas. You must have seen the New Year’s Day Concert from Vienna where the orchestra always plays the Radetzky March whilst the audience clap their hands, I can’t wait for the year when they all manage to do it at the same time. I don’t know what they drink on Austrian Hogmanay but it must be potent. These concerts take place on Thursday, 30th December at 3.30pm in Huddersfield Town Hall and the following day at 3.00pm in Hull Town Hall. Prices are from £20 with concessions for those 16 and under at £10. https://www.operanorth.co.uk/whats-on/viennese-whirl-2021/

Maire Flaven. Viennese Whirl. Photograph by Tristram Kenton supplied by Opera North

Might I end by drawing your attention to Opera North’s Christmas Campaign, Music is Everywhere. It pledges to bring the power of live performance to the most isolated in society. I can vouch for the fact that they not only talk the talk but walk the walk with the various events they stage throughout the year. I have seen them put on an abridged version of an opera in a Working Men’s Club Car Park on a pay what you feel basis and then do it for free in the County Arcade a few weeks ago to lift the spirits of disabled shoppers who had been tempted into Leeds on Purple Tuesday. Donations will support transformative experiences for the less fortunate in the region with £15 to give an isolated member of the community their first experience of live performance to £500 for a workshop for a community group to explore and enjoy music in a supportive environment. https://www.operanorth.co.uk/music-is-everywhere/ Please do what you can.

I hope that you manage to get to at least one of the Opera North Christmas events, I am sure that you will enjoy them a lot, unless, that is, you are monopolising the crayons when I am trying to do some colouring in. I can scream very loudly!

All images supplied by Opera North

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