For the first time in its history, Yorkshire’s most important secular building, the Halifax Piece Hall, is hosting a dedicated Proms night featuring the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra.
The Piece Hall, a Grade 1 listed architectural phenomenon in Halifax, promises to blow the trumpet for God’s own county in style.
Coinciding with the last night of the Proms, hosted in London at the Royal Albert Hall, the Yorkshire Proms aims to offer northern audiences a comparable live experience.
Audiences can expect all the Proms hits, with Jerusalem and Land of Hope and Glory, alongside popular classics from Richard Rodgers and Leonard Bernstein, and the epic Nessun Dorma.
There will of course be a Yorkshire twist, with an interpretation of Ilkley Moor Baht’at and A Yorkshire Overture, a piece written by conductor, composer and musician, Ben Crick.
Ben Crick, conductor of the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra, said: “The Proms began in London in 1895 with the view to reach a wider audience and offer more popular programmes. We want to offer that same world-class live music experience to audiences in the North. There’s a huge disparity in opportunity for audiences and musicians alike. This is about helping levelling up the North.”
The Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra was established in Leeds in 1947 and disbanded in 1955. One of the orchestra’s founders was Richard Noel Middleton, the great grandfather of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Alan Bennett was a regular audience member of the orchestra in his boyhood, as was artist David Hockney.
The 50-strong orchestra reformed in the spring of 2021 as a direct result of the pandemic to support northern musicians hit hard by the virus and closure of live events.
Ben added: “This is about waving the flag for Yorkshire, but also for our newly reformed Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra. It’s shocking that this huge county has been without a symphony orchestra for so long.”
Ben Crick, a self-declared proud northerner, was born in Huddersfield. The son of a council worker and teacher and the grandson of miners, Ben lives in rural Skipton. He’s held a BBC Music Fellowship, worked with orchestras around the world, and is Artist Director of Skipton Building Society Camerata.
Ben has always believed classical music is an art form that can speak to everyone and is known for his innovative approaches; he once had an orchestra play a Mozart symphony outside Sainsbury’s in Leeds station.
CEO of The Piece Hall Trust Nicky Chance-Thompson DL said: “We have wanted to broaden our musical offer by adding classical to our repertoire for some time now, and this is the perfect start. Yorkshire is home to some incredible talent across the Arts, and I’m so proud we are able to showcase a return of the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra. The Piece Hall is such a stunning building in an awe-inspiring location, which while different from London’s Royal Albert Hall, is very much its equal and a truly fitting home for the Yorkshire Proms.”
Dating from 1779, the remarkable building was built for trading pieces of cloth. One of Britain’s most outstanding Georgian buildings, it’s a unique and only remaining example of its type.
The Yorkshire Proms will help raise funds for The Piece Hall Trust, which runs The Piece Hall. Its patrons include the Bafta-winning TV writer Sally Wainwright, who put Halifax on the map with Gentleman Jack and Last Tango in Halifax, as well as the wider Calderdale region with Happy Valley.
The Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra’s ambition is to be a musical and cultural voice for the North. It has two Honorary Patrons, the poet Ian McMillan and playwright Alan Bennett.
“Yorkshire is an endless symphony anyway,” Ian said of the orchestra’s resurrection.
Alan Bennett said: “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.”
Photo credit Lorne Campbell Guzelian Media.
Cause UK are specialist advisors to the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra.