This year there is lots going on under the Opera North banner. The big operas staged in the Grand Theatre have mostly moved on to other venues but there is still one to come. Howard Assembly Room, however, is packed with great stuff.

The final opera of the current season will be staged at Leeds Grand Theatre on 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th June. It is Parsifal by Richard Wagner which is a marathon piece beginning at 4.00pm on each date and running for a whopping 5 hours and 30 minutes including two intervals!

There are far more manageable performances at Howard Assembly Room in their usual widely diverse programme. The first, Brudenell Piano Sessions on 29th March is already sold out but there are still plenty of others which aren’t.

The headline event is Leeds Lieder Festival which runs from 28th April – 1st May. There are lots of performances, lectures and talks so please go to https://leedslieder.org.uk/whats-on/category/festival-events/ for full details.

I know that to the uninitiated this may seem like a wind-up, but on 1st April there is a performance from Huun-Huur-Tu who are a group of Tuvan throat-singers. They use traditional instruments and their vocal techniques to create fierce, heart-searing music. There will also be a short film to explain their traditions and culture.

On 8th April there is a visit from Manchester Collective who present The Oracle, featuring the South African cellist and composer Abel Selaocoe. The following day Maya Youssef, the ‘queen of qanun’, a 78-stringed Middle Eastern instrument, will play a concert of her music, a fusion of Arabic classical melded with jazz, flamenco and Western classical, accompanied by a string quartet.

Sunday, 10th April sees a family event comprising a singing workshop and an animated film, Sing.

There is another family show on 14th April, Carnival of the Animals. This is a relaxed performance for young children and features music by Saint-Saëns played by brass players from the Orchestra of Opera North. There are two performances; 11.30am and 1.30pm.

Next stop Havana, Cuba on 19th April, with Buena Vista Social Club’s Roberto Fonseca and his group who will regale us with jazz, funk, classical, rap, reggaeton and electronica.

On 21st April Ensemble Pro Victoria presents Easter from the Spanish Golden Age (1492-1659). And you thought it was from 1970-today, when cheap package holidays were in abundance. So did I!

The Rheingans Sisters (Rowan and Anna) appear on 23rd April playing a selection of instruments, many of them handmade by their father, Helmut. They also use the spoken word, dancing feet and percussion.

Manchester Collective return on 19th May with Neon, a work inspired by the nocturnal hours when lights flicker and the atmosphere in the city changes.

Even though it doesn’t take place until 20th May, ON After Hours: Restorative Yoga with live music, has already sold out.

Modern Jazz is showcased on 21st May with a session by Norwegian pianist, Told Gustavsen and his drummer, Jarle Vespestad and bassist, Steinar Raknes. An evening not to be missed.

Now here’s a combination for you, Welsh harpist Catrin Finch and Senegal kora player Seckou Keita. Their multi-genre session is on 22nd May.

On 25th May Howard Assembly Room will be screening the classic Swedish film The Seventh Seal starring Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot. There will be a 20 minute live music set prior to the film to set the mood.

Violinist Tai Murray performs works by Clara and Robert Schumann, John Adams, Pärt and Schubert on 28th May, when she will be accompanied by pianist Martin Roscoe.

The folk instrumental duo Spiers & Boden are playing a mix of traditional tunes along with their own compositions on 3rd June.

On 5th June Leeds Jazz Festival presents Issie Barratt’s INTERCHANGE at 4.00pm, but before that at 1.00pm there is a chance to sit in on the rehearsal, which should be enlightening.

Les Amazones d’Afrique, a female trio from Mali bring their Afrobeat, funk and reggae mix on 22nd June. One of the tracks on their album République Amazone, was picked by President Obama as one of his 20 favourites of 2017. If it’s good enough for Barack ….

Finally, on 23rd June there is Refugee Week Session, a programme of music by people from all over the world who are now based in our region and seeking refuge and asylum.

For full details and booking please go to https://www.operanorth.co.uk/whats-on/ For an interesting and eclectic experience please go to one or more of the above.

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