Site Home
 



Topic Home


Present Day
The Present Day

Leeds - A City of Music
A Centre of Musical Excellence
Leeds's vibrant musical infrastructure has been built upon an ethos of self-help, a long tradition of community involvement and the support of an enlightened local authority.  The City produces and nurtures many instrumentalists and singers at both an amateur and professional level.  In both of these categories, the pursuit of the highest artistic standards has led to national and international recognition of the City as a centre of musical excellence.

Leeds is a producer and exporter of
music, opera and dance

In 2009, the City will stage:
* third FuseLeeds Festival
* ninth Leeds Conductors Competition
* sixteenth Leeds International Pianoforte Competition
* third Leeds Lieder Festival Weekend
* thirtieth Anniversary Season of Opera North(2008-09)
* thirteenth Opera in the Park
* thirtieth Leeds International Concert Season (2009-10)

Leeds International Concert Season is Britain's largest Local Authority music programme promoting 200 events annually including:

*International Orchestral Series of over 25 concerts at Leeds Town Hall
*Orchestra of Opera North Sunday Gala concerts in Leeds Town Hall
*Summer band concerts in the parks,
*Brass band concerts Pudsey Civic Centre, Yeadon and Morley Town Halls
*Family concerts at the Carriageworks Theatre
*Free Monday lunchtime organ recitals in Leeds Town Hall
*Free Wednesday lunchtime chamber music recitals at the Venue, Leeds College of Music
* Evening recitals at the Venue, Leeds College of Music
*Jazz at the West Yorkshire Playhouse
*
150 Years of Music in Leeds Town Hall
* Leeds Town Hall, for 150 years the focus of Leeds orchestral and choral music and, since 1980, the home of Leeds International Concert Season, is now the home of Leeds Philharmonic Chorus. The City's longest serving choir has been in continuous existence since 1870.

The Opera North Centre - a permanent home for Leeds' national opera company
Leeds based Opera North is the National Opera Company for the North of England. In addition to some 50 performances annually at Leeds Grand Theatre, the company tours its productions to the key regional centres of Machester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield and Hull.  London's Sadlers Wells Theatre is an annual fixture, and Opera North's International appearances have included Barcelona's Liceu Opera House, BBC Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, Edinburgh International Festival and other major European festivals.

2008 has witnessed the completion of the £32m transformation of Leeds Grand Theatre as the permanent home of Opera North.  The project's crowning glory is the £10m restoration of the Howard Assembly Room which opened to the public in January 2009. This inspirational and beautiful space will offer a unique and eclectic mix of art, talk, events and performance, all programmed by Opera North. The Howard Assembly Room is also the rehearsal base of  the Orchestra & Chorus of Opera North, the creative hub of Opera North Education and Opera North Projects, and a focal venue for DARE - Opera North and the University of Leeds' groundbreaking partnership.

Leeds' Resident Orchestra plays in both Opera House and Concert Hall
The internationally acclaimed Orchestra of Opera North leads a double life as Leeds and Yorkshire's resident professional symphony orchestra. Some 30 concerts annually include Leeds International Concert Season, Kirklees International Orchestral Season, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Oldham's William Walton Festival, and collaborative concerts with some of the region's leading choral societies.

Leeds based Northern Ballet Theatre's orchestra also makes appearances on concert platforms around the Yorkshire region in which capacity it plays under the name of the North of England Concert Orchestra. Regular engagements include Halifax Choral Society and Leeds City Council's annual "Classical Fantasia" at Kirkstall Abbey.

Great Choirs fill Church and Concert Hall
Leeds Philharmonic Chorus and Leeds Festival Chorus present major choral works in partnership with Leeds International Concert Season and  also promote their own concerts in Leeds Town Hall.  Both choirs broadcast regularly and appear in other major venues such as Manchester's Bridgewater Hall. Leeds Guild of Singers likewise give regular concerts in Leeds and across the region.

The University of Leeds, Leeds College of Music and Leeds Met University all maintain thriving community choral societies.  Both Leeds Parish Church and Leeds Cathedral maintain the highest standards of church music. Leeds Parish Church's illustrious musical tradition goes back to 1842 when Samuel Sebastian Wesley was appointed organist and master of the music.
The musical life of both great city churches continues to enrich the City of Leeds and beyond.

Community Opera
The presence of several thriving amateur opera groups underlines the city's importance as a seedbed for home grown talent. Leeds Youth Opera, founded in 1971 to give young people the opportunity to perform in fully staged operas, remains unique in this country.  Nearly 60 operas including modern works by Benjamin Britten, Philip Glass and Stephen Sondheim have been staged since LYO's inception.  

West Riding Opera's annual productions since 1954 have included the northern premieres of rarely performed operas by Delibes, Gounod, Lortzing and many others.  Both societies now stage their productions at the Carriageworks Theatre which opened in 2005, replacing the Civic Theatre.  

Community Orchestras
Leeds Symphony Orchestra, the Sinfonia of Leeds, City of Leeds Youth Orchestra, Leeds University Union Musical Society Symphony Orchestra, and Leeds College of Music Community Symphony Orchestra all give regular concerts in the City and across the region.  The recently formed Leeds based West Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra plays to audiences in both Leeds and Wakefield.  Alwoodley Sinfonia performs in halls and churches in north Leeds, and the newly formed Otley Chamber Orchestra is resident at the town's Courthouse Arts Centre.

A Centre of Learning with a leading Conservatoire and the renowned School of Music at the University of Leeds
Since modest beginnings in 1961 as Leeds Music Centre, Leeds College of Music has become the country's largest college of music and is recognised as one of the UK's leading conservatoires.  Leeds College of Music and the renowned School of Music at the University of Leeds have added an exciting dimension to the musical life of the Leeds City Region over the past four decades.

Both institutions promote busy performance schedules featuring their respective orchestral, instrumental and vocal ensembles.  The University's music programme is centred mainly on the elegant Clothworkers Centenary Concert hall and features established artists (including distinguished alumni) and students of the School of Music.  The programme also reflects the work of the various research centres at the School.  

Leeds College of Music's performance programme is centred on The Venue, a purpose-built 350 seater concert hall which opened in 2003.
The Venue is now firmly established as the setting for Leeds International Concert Season's free lunchtime recitals, the annual residency of the Endellion String Quartet and other major chamber music series or "mini-festivals" promoted by LICS. These recently featured 6 concerts curated by conductor Martin Brabbins surveying the Language of Music between 1880 and 1920 and a survey of Russian piano music curated by Dimitri Alexeev.

Daily Lunchtime Music
In addition to recitals in Leeds Town Hall and The Venue,  regular lunchtime recitals take place at Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall, Leeds Cathedral, Leeds Parish Church, Holy Trinity Church and Mill Hill Chapel.

Leeds Lieder+
Leeds Lieder+ is a biennial weekend festival of art song founded in 2004 to revive interest in song recitals and to introduce the art song to new audiences.  Concerts take place in The Venue at Leeds College of Music, the Howard Assembly Room at Opera North and the Clothworkers’ Centenary Concert Hall at Leeds University. Recitals by renowned international, and prize-winning up and coming young, artists feature new, specially commissioned works alongside the established repertoire.  Leeds Lieder+ encourages new talent through the Composers + Poets Forum and Masterclasses for young singers and pianists from conservatoires and universities given by distinguished international artists.  Every Festival includes a workshop and performance showcasing songs from another culture.  Education projects linked to each Festival regularly reach over 500 children and young people in Leeds primary and secondary schools.

In between Festivals, audiences are able to enjoy a programme of recitals, talks and informal performance opportunities.  A Day of Song on Sunday 14 October 2012 is a new initiative which, it is hoped, will become a regular feature of the Leeds cultural calendar.

The fifth biennial Leeds Lieder+ Festival will take place Friday 11 – Sunday 13 October 2013.  The Artistic Director is the world-famous accompanist Graham Johnson OBE and the distinguished mezzo soprano Ann Murray DBE is Guest of Honour.

Leeds is not only renowned for classical music. The City is now
A Hotbed for Rock'n'Roll Talent with over 1000 active bands.
"New York, eat your heart out..the latest hotbed for rock'n'roll talent isn't hip Glasgow or chic Manhattan, but a Yorkshire city at the end of the M1".
The Guardan, Wednesday August 31, 2005

Compared to Manchester, Leeds had been until relatively recently something of a backwater for the production of hotly-tipped pop groups. This changed completely with the explosion on to the scene of the Mercury-nominated pop-indie band, The Kaiser Chiefs, the first mega-selling band to originate from the city since the Sisters of Mercy in the 1980s.  

Leeds has now caught up with Manchester and Sheffield in terms of the quality and number of bands originating in the city. Bands such as The Music, The Pigeon Detectives, Duels, Forward Russia!, Beun Chico, iLIKETRAINS, The Sunshine Underground and singer Corinne Bailey Rae. All have achieved success in the national charts or have built up cult followings in the area.

By 2007, the city was widely recognised to have one of the UK's most diverse electronic music scenes.  Artists such as Headcleaner, Kubex, Gwylo, Micoland and Aunt Orange are among the leaders of the current electronic music scene with local D.I.Y record labels such as Gonzo run Dirtyload Records and breakcore label, Marionette, providing an outlet for the wealth of electronic music coming out of Leeds.

Since 1999 the Leeds Festival, a northern leg of the Reading Festival, has taken place over August Bank Holiday weekend at Temple Newsam until 2002, and since 2003 at Bramham Park. The current capacity is 70,000 and the festival is extensively covered by BBC TV and Radio, red button and on line.

The City's latest Rock venue, the 2300 capacity Leeds Academy in Cookridge Street, opened in 2008.  Other venues include the University of Leeds Refectory - the setting for The Who's legendary 1970 live album "Live at Leeds", Leeds Met University, the Cockpit, the Wardrobe and the Irish Centre. The Faversham, Fenton, Cardigan Arms, Josephs Well and the Packhorse are but a handful of city pubs to promote gigs by local and visiting bands.
    
Kaiser Chiefs played the 7000 capacity Millennium Square in 2006, as did the Pigeon Detectives in 2008.  In 2008, Kaiser Chiefs performed to a 35,000 capacity crowd at Elland Road Stadium. Later that year the chart-topping band launched their UK tour with a barnstorming gig to open the Leeds Academy.

Roundhay Park Arena has been the spectacular setting for concerts by The Rolling Stones, Gary Glitter, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Madonna, and Genesis.  Michael Jackson, the self-styled King of Pop, took Roundhay Park Arena by storm in both 1988 and 1992.  Some critics at the time hailed his 1988 performance as "Perhaps the most dazzling two hours of showmanship ever witnessed in Britain". In 2006, Robbie Williams gave two  performances to sell-out crowds totalling 180,000.

The opening in autumn 2012 of Leeds City Council's £80m -12,500 seater concert arena, will herald an exciting new stage in the development of the City's vibrant music scene.








Associated Documents
Leeds Lieder+ A Day of Song



Associated Links
Sinfonia of Leeds

Leeds College of Music

FuseLeeds

Leeds Lieder

Opera North

Leeds International Concert Season

Leeds University School of Music

Leeds Music Scene

Click images to enlarge
Opera North programme, 2004
Opera North programme, 2004
Northern Ballet Theatre Orchestra
Northern Ballet Theatre Orchestra
Leeds Festival Chorus programme, 1989
Leeds Festival Chorus programme, 1989
Leeds International Piano Competition, 2003
Leeds International Piano Competition, 2003
Leeds St Anne's Cathedral
Leeds St Anne's Cathedral
Leeds College of Music
Leeds College of Music
Yorkshire Young Musicians booklet
Yorkshire Young Musicians booklet
Leeds Lieder programme
Leeds Lieder programme
Northern Wagner Orchestra, programme for the Ring Cycle
Northern Wagner Orchestra, programme for the Ring Cycle
FuseLeeds programme, 2004
FuseLeeds programme, 2004
Opera North Education's The Pied Piper 2005
Opera North Education's The Pied Piper 2005
National Children's Orchestra at Leeds Town Hall in August 2006
National Children's Orchestra at Leeds Town Hall in August 2006
Yorkshire Voices and the Manchester Camerata at Leeds Town Hall performing Verdi's Requiem, June 2008
Yorkshire Voices and the Manchester Camerata at Leeds Town Hall performing Verdi's Requiem, June 2008
Leeds Festival Chorus, Leeds Philharmonic Chorus and the Orchestra of Opera North on 6th September 2008 at Leeds Town Hall 150th Anniversary Concert performing Walton's Belshazzer's Feast.
Leeds Festival Chorus, Leeds Philharmonic Chorus and the Orchestra of Opera North on 6th September 2008 at Leeds Town Hall 150th Anniversary Concert performing Walton's Belshazzer's Feast.
The James band crowd at Leeds Academy December 2008
The James band crowd at Leeds Academy December 2008
Opera in the Park, 2009
Opera in the Park, 2009
'Chorus' Installation at Howard Assembly Room, February 2009. Photographer Jonxyz
'Chorus' Installation at Howard Assembly Room, February 2009. Photographer Jonxyz




Site Map

© 2003 Leeds City Council | Site created by: LCC electronic information team | 25 March 2003