Howard Assembly Room and Opera North do Light Night Differently

As part of Leeds Light Night, the Howard Assembly Room came up with something a little differently from the projection of images on the City’s buildings.

It was much more low key, in that it was a series of soloists on various instruments playing works by J. S. Bach. The way that the concert fitted in with Light Night was that the soloists were situated in various parts of the auditorium and were picked out by a spotlight when it was their turn to perform. The theatre was also bathed in constantly changing ambient lighting which set the mood perfectly. The aforesaid mood was informal and laid back as there was no formal seating, just an assortment of styles of chair scattered around the venue, with the floor itself being used by the more hardy listeners.

All photographs by Stan Graham

Fortunately, I managed to find a very comfortable Chesterfield armchair which I occupied for about forty minutes whilst being entertained by Craig Ogden on guitar, Baroque flautist Annabel Knight and cellist Abel Selaocoe. Please be aware that should you attend on Friday evening the cellist will be Clare O’Connell. The violinist Mandhira De Saram also appeared, but sadly I had to leave before I could enjoy her solo.

Craig Ogden

There was no set programme, the idea being that people drifted in and out of the hall as the mood took them. I found this a bit irritating to begin with as the floor is bare wood, so anyone wearing leather soled shoes made quite a racket if walking normally, thus destroying the ambience. I must say that most of the audience waited until the end of a performance or the change of a piece to take their leave, but there were inevitably those who trudged in and out willy nilly. I was one of the miscreants in leather shoes but managed to develop a walk of which Michael Jackson would have been proud in order to leave as quietly as possible, even though I had chosen a natural break to do so. It wasn’t easy to find a gap as the works followed in quick succession and there was no pause between artists.

Annabel Knight

I do like the music of J. S. Bach as it is easily accessible to those of us who are not aficionados. It is also very adaptable and as well as being played in its original form, has been successfully added to the modern jazz catalogue by Jacques Loussier and even into mainstream pop via Procol Harem’s ‘Whiter Shade Of Pale’ amongst others. There were times during the performances when I wished that my esteemed colleague and classical music expert Charles Eager had been present to identify the pieces which I did not recognise, i.e. most of them.

Abel Selaocoe. All photographs by Stan Graham.

I must say that in spite of the noisy turnover of attendees I enjoyed the experience very much and the standard of playing was absolutely superb. Still, what do you expect from Opera North and Howard Assembly Rooms? Are we lucky to live in Leeds or what!

Sit Bach and Enjoy continues on Friday, 5th October from 6.00pm until 10.45pm and is a free, ticketless event so just drop in at any time within those hours and enjoy, but please do so considerately.

Stan writes Let’s Do Lunch for Leeds Living.  He also reviews special events for food and drink, which sometimes takes him beyond Leeds.  He has also developed an interest in writing on culture, most frequently dramatic and musical theatre.

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