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2:42 PM 30th September 2021
arts

Orchestra Of Opera North’s Season Of World Premieres Continues

Christian Jones performs at Huddersfield Town Hall with the Orchestra of Opera North
Christian Jones performs at Huddersfield Town Hall with the Orchestra of Opera North
After a euphoric reception for the Orchestra of Opera North’s first concert at Huddersfield Town Hall in over a year and a half, the Kirklees Concert Season continues on 7 October with the world premiere of a Concerto for Bass Trombone, and works by Mendelssohn and Brahms.

Opera North has also announced 14 successful entries to its Minute Masterpieces competition. Each of the 60-second works by a young and emerging composer will receive its world premiere at a Huddersfield orchestral concert, and the works will be recorded next year.

Gresley is a new Concerto for Bass Trombone and Orchestra by British composer and Principal Conductor of the Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra Benjamin Ellin. Written for the Orchestra of Opera North’s bass trombonist Christian Jones, it is inspired by the life of Sir Nigel Gresley, who overcame tragedy and grief to become one of the greatest railway engineers in history.

“Gresley’s wife died of cancer in 1929”, explains Ellin. “Apart from the obvious tragedy of this, what struck me was that he hadn’t by that point begun the work that would later make him so famous – he would go on to invent The Mallard and The Flying Scotsman. His ability to rise again from such a huge loss speaks an enormous amount about his inner spirit, his sheer determination and his brilliant positive creative energy.”

For Christian Jones, this tribute to human resilience has clear resonance in the present: “Of course, everyone has found this period really difficult, and as musicians, being cooped up at home in front of a screen is the antithesis of what we do.

“The turmoil of the pandemic has made many people reassess what is important to them, and for me it confirmed my absolute love of performing and sharing music. It’s been so good to have a positive and life-affirming project like this to focus on over the past 18 months. I first performed Benjamin Ellin's music almost 25 years ago when we were both members of the National Youth Orchestra brass section, and bringing this new concerto for my under-represented instrument to the concert platform marks the fulfilment of a lifelong ambition.

“I love the hall in Huddersfield and the warm welcome that we always receive from our audience, whether it’s our regulars, new visitors, or the many University students who come to enjoy live classical music. Simply being together in a concert hall again is a kind of communal act which celebrates our emergence from the pandemic.”

Back in Leeds, Opera North is celebrating the opening of its new headquarters, the Howard Opera Centre, with a series of 14 sixty-second works on the theme of home. Selected from hundreds of entries submitted by composers from a variety of genres in response to a call-out earlier this year, the Minute Masterpieces will be premiered at Huddersfield orchestral concerts, then recorded by the Orchestra at the end of the season.

The first of the works, Scottish composer Jay Capperauld’s propulsive Deep in their Roots (all flowers keep their light) received its first ever play at the season’s opening concert last week, in between works by Elgar and Shostakovich. On 7 October, along with Gresley, the next Minute Masterpiece will also receive its world premiere. Dawn Ride Home is the first ever commission for Niall Docherty, winner of the 2021 Philip Bates Prize for Composition, who recently began tuition under Stuart MacRae at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

The other successful composers of Minute Masterpieces are: composer, conductor and trumpet player Daniel Hall; Jonathan Higgins, a composer and performer working across electroacoustic, electronic and instrumental music, improvisation and sound installations; Carol J Jones, whose compositions deconstruct the sounds of nature; Israeli composer Omri Kochavi, a Britten Pears Young Artist currently pursuing a Masters in Composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama; Mandy Leung, a classically-trained multi-instrumentalist, arranger and composer from Hong Kong, studying for a Masters in Composition at Cardiff University; pianist and clarinettist Alexander Ling; Scottish composer Peter Longworth, whose piece draws on his strong affinity with Italian culture; Florence Anna Maunders, whose wide-ranging career has included jazz piano, orchestral percussion and electronic music; José Guillermo Puello, a composer from the Dominican Republic now based in Manchester who took part in Opera North’s Resonance residencies earlier this year; Caitlin Strike, whose background takes in brass band music and composition as well as mental health nursing; Dominic Veall, a pianist, cellist and singer who has recently completed a postgraduate composition degree at Trinity Laban; and Adam Walters, a composer, arranger, teacher and performer who draws on both Caribbean styles and Western classical music.

Opera North’s Principal Guest Conductor Antony Hermus leads the Orchestra in the world premiere of Gresley and Dawn Ride Home at Huddersfield Town Hall on Thursday 7 October. Mendelssohn’s thrilling sound-painting of a stormy Fingal’s Cave, the Hebrides Overture, opens the concert, and Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 touches down on the calmer waters of Lake Wörth, southern Austria, where the composer spent happy summers holidaying and working.

Tickets for the concert are priced from £13.00 - £27.00, just £1 for anyone aged 16 or under, or £4.00 for ages 17 – 29 as part of Opera North’s Under 30s scheme. All events in the Kirklees Concert Season are available to book now at tickets.kirklees.gov.uk, or at the Box Office on 01484 225 755.