Classical notes to round off the year

It is a very fine season for music in Leeds, with plenty of opportunities to see fabulous musicianship, imaginative programmes and classic and novel repertoire, all in gorgeous settings.

We are, as always, blessed in having our International Concert Season at the Town Hall – which every other Saturday evening brings world-class orchestras to the heart of Leeds, as well as hosting its usual free lunchtime Organ concerts and Wednesday lunchtime Chamber music concerts.

Highlights from the International Concert Season must include those to be given by the Orchestra of Opera North in late November and early December, which consist of refreshing, mostly English programmes (with a bit of Mozart thrown in), and whose thoughtfulness looks well placed to come off as a highlight of the Autumn/Winter season.

Imogen Cooper – Photography by: Sussie Ahlburg

On that note, we are equally blessed by Opera North themselves—who have done and every year continue to do exciting new things both on and off the stage, and in and out of the theatre: you may, for example, be one of the lucky people who gets to witness their impromptu, free performances in Leeds’ Trinity Centre, or you may benefit from the wonderful U30s scheme, which makes the opera available to young people for very reasonable prices. On 9 December, Opera North is at Leeds Town Hall with the Leeds Festival Chorus and a Festive Box of Delights. Of course, the Howard Assembly Room, as always, boasts a fine and rare programme too, bringing us seasonal world music and chamber concerts. Classical and romantic pianist Imogen Cooper debuts at the Howard Assembly Room on 30 November, a performance which promises Beethoven, Haydn and Thomas Ades.

Mary Beven – Photography by Victoria Cadisch

The Venue at the Leeds College of Music continues its series of concerts (some of which are free), and the Clothworkers Concerts at the University of Leeds continues its years-long run of Friday lunchtime, Sunday afternoon, and evening concerts, all of which are free for students—of any university—and many of which are free to all. The highlight of their programme must be the three concerts of Schubert Lieder (next is March 2018), with stars such as Joseph Middleton (all concerts) and Mary Bevan (second concert). Having, at the time of writing, just attended the October concert, Schubert’s settings of Goethe, featuring the divine Nika Gorič (soprano) and James Newby (baritone)—I can say that, if this concert was anything to go by, then the following concerts are unmissable. Other highlights at the University are the viola concert to be given by Timothy Ridout (Jâns Coleman accompanist), The Choral Music of Schubert (Friday 17 Nov, 1.05, free) and The Orchestral Music of Schubert (Sat 18 Nov, 2.30, free). Just up Woodhouse Lane, at St. Mark’s House, the Yorkshire College of Music and Drama also hosts occasional lunchtime concerts.

Leeds Minster – Photography by Paula Brown / Ollievision

Leeds Minster continues to feature wonderful Organ concerts on Friday lunchtimes, and glorious Evensong services in term-time. A recent addition to their programme of events is the “Rush Hour Concerts” at 5.55 on selected Mondays (tea and biscuits from 5.30). A fine programme is lined up for this Autumn.

Sinfonia Leeds will give an excellent programme consisting of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, Debussy’s ‘Iberia’ (from Images), and de Falla’s Suite from ‘The Three Cornered Hat’ at reasonable prices in St. Edmund’s Church, Roundhay on Sat 11 Nov. Haydn fans should also watch out for the Leeds Haydn Players, Sat 18 Nov at South Parade Baptist Church, Headingley.

Tickets available on the door, or call 01943 466 331 to book.

Our Contributors



Charles Eager

Charles Eager

Charles writes on classical music and opera.  He is co-author of Synkronos,  published in September 2017.

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