Two major music organisations in Yorkshire have joined forces for a spectacular concert in Bradford, bolstering the city’s rise as it approaches the 2025 City of Culture year.
Bradford Festival Choral Society and the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra will perform classical masterpieces this April (Sat 29th), featuring world-class musicians in one of the UK’s oldest concert halls, St George’s Hall.
Bradford Festival Choral Society was founded as a direct result of the opening of St George’s Hall in 1853. The Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra was originally established in 1947. Its fans included the artist David Hockney and the young Alan Bennett until its demise in 1955. It was reformed after the pandemic to support a talent pool of first-rate northern musicians and provide a cultural voice for the north.
This will be the first time Bradford Festival Choral Society has collaborated with the reformed Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra, renewing a partnership that flourished in the 1950’s.
The historic award-winning choir is one of the oldest and most forward-thinking choruses in the UK, performing four major concerts throughout the year, while also heavily involved in community work, running ‘learn to sing concerts’, and the city’s choir for refugees and asylum seekers, Bradford Friendship Choir.
Bradford Festival Choral Society was recently shortlisted for the ‘BAFTAs of classical music’ – the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards ‘Inspiration Award’.
Thomas Leech (pictured right), Musical Director of Bradford Festival Choral Society, said: “Joining forces with the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra will create a powerhouse of sound showcasing the choir’s vibrant tone and the orchestra’s brilliance and some of the best vocalists in the UK.”
Conductor, founder and artistic director of the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra, Ben Crick, is particularly excited to be working with such an historic choir, he said: “Yorkshire has a proud and illustrious record of creating art of the highest calibre and historically Bradford has been at the centre of it. What’s great about working in the city at the moment is that there is a real feeling of artistic optimism around. As we move towards the City of Culture year creating national level art locally must be a real focus, groups like the Bradford Festival Choral Society and the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra will be vital in achieving this aim.”
The concert will feature the iconic masterpiece, Mozart’s Requiem, written during the final weeks of Mozart’s life.
Ben said: “It’s one of central masterpieces of the choral repertoire, the fact that it is used so often in films, TV shows and I’ve even heard it in a computer game, shows how easy it is for people to respond to this work immediately and on a human level that everyone can relate to.”
Vocal soloists include the Opera North star soprano Lorna James, and mezzo soprano, the Leeds-born Hannah Mason, who trained at English National Opera, and has performed at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Opera North and with the Skipton Building Society Camerata.
They’re joined by Shipley-born tenor Joseph Doody, who has performed with leading opera houses and festivals across the UK, and one of the leading American basses of his generation, James Creswell, praised for his magnificently rich vocals. The American started his career with the Los Angeles Opera, moving to Germany as a soloist in Berlin, and is performing the 2023 season at Opéra national de Paris and with the English National Opera.
The programme includes the vocal classic Handel’s Zadok the Priest, a choral wall of sound, followed by the coronation anthem, The King Shall Rejoice. Edward Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro ends the first half of the performance, which is a multi-layered symphonic poem for string orchestra.”
The orchestral lead for the night is one of the country’s leading violinists, David Greed, who recently retired as concertmaster of the Orchestra of Opera North. David has been guest-concertmaster for major orchestras across the UK, including the Halle and BBC Philharmonic.
St George’s Hall in Bradford is a grade II listed Victorian building with seating for over 1,500. The venue is renowned for its exceptional acoustics and intimate atmosphere.
Alan Bennett said of the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra: “When I was a boy in the ’40s I was a fan of the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra, going to concerts sometimes twice a week. A lifetime later I am happy to be its Honorary Patron. Orchestras need fans. Come and listen.”
To book tickets go to: Bradford Theatres (bradford-theatres.co.uk)
About Bradford Festival Choral Society (BFCS)
Bradford Festival Choral Society have a great historic connection with St George’s Hall. Formally established in 1856 to perform in the hall and rapidly becoming well known enough to travel to the Royal Albert Hall to perform to Queen Victoria, Bradford Festival Choral Society is one of the oldest and most exciting choirs in the North of England. Performing at least four concerts per year, they have an illustrious history, having worked with the outstanding musicians of the day including conductors Edward Elgar, Charles Parry, Charles Halle, Malcolm Sargent, David Willcocks, Richard Hickox and Peter Maxwell Davies and composer John Rutter; their soloists have included such legends as Kathleen Ferrier and Peter Pears.
Since 2008 the choir has been enjoying a revival under the baton of its Musical Director Thomas Leech, who has led the choir into new territory while constantly encouraging excellent performances of choral classics. During the Covid-19 pandemic they won acclaim – including a major award from the UK’s national body for amateur music Making Music – for their lockdown work, continuing weekly virtual rehearsals, welcoming guests including composers Paul Mealor and Roxanna Panufnik. They recorded numerous virtual choir videos including a complete performance of Haydn’s Nelson Mass with orchestra and soloists.
Their community work includes numerous pop-up performances, learn to sing courses, come and sing days and most importantly running Bradford Friendship Choir, the city’s choir for refugees and asylum seekers.
About Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra (YSO)
Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra is an ensemble proud of its Yorkshire roots and heritage and is constantly striving to be an artistic voice for the North of England. It is a reincarnation of an ensemble that disbanded in the 1950s and in the two years since its rebirth has performed concerts with Lesley Garrett, Wynne Evans, Sir Willard White and Aled Jones. Comprising some of the north of England’s finest orchestral musicians and with a passion for collaboration with both musical ensembles and across other art forms it seeks to be a regular fixture in concert seasons and events throughout the region for years to come.
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The Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra will be performing at Halifax Piece Hall on 23rd July 2023. This concert has sold out.
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