HE IS a British Grammy award winning conductor and next month he will return to Huddersfield to conduct one of the country’s leading orchestras.
Bramwell Tovey conducted a concert at Huddersfield Town Hall two years ago which featured Huddersfield Choral Society and the Orchestra of Opera North in what was, for the choir, a seldom heard performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah.
It was a concert which caused much excitement, not least among the ranks of the Orchestra of Opera North who return to the town next month with this much admired conductor.
“Bram Tovey is a wonderful conductor, said Dougie Scarfe, concerts director for Opera North.
“We were lucky that he happened to be in this country for a week. We have been trying to get him to conduct a symphony concert for a while and now we have managed it,” he said.
The concert is on Thursday April 1 and sees a revival of classics including Elgar’s Cello Concerto as well as works by Vaughan Williams and Walton.
Bramwell Tovey will be joined by the highly rated cellist, Paul Watkins.
“He is a stunningly good cellist. The audience will be pinned to their seats,” said Dougie.
Gordon Stewart, the Kirklees Borough Organist, who has worked with Opera North on the orchestral programme, said: “If you like English music, you won’t get a better programme than this.”
It is doubtless a programme which will resonate with Bramwell Tovey who went to school in Ilford before the Royal Academy of Music and the University of London.
His musical roots are in The Salvation Army though his formal music education was as a pianist and composer. As a student at the Royal Academy of Music, he also became a tuba player, studying with John Fletcher.
After conducting the Royal Ballet, Tovey conducted the first season of the revived D’Oyly Carte Opera Company in the late Eighties before heading for Canada and a stint as music director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.
For the last 10 years, he has been the music director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and earlier this year, his contract there was extended by a further five years.
Tovey has also become known as a composer writing everything from film scores and opera to commissions for brass band music.
He has worked closely with brass bands in this country and a CD of his compositions, played by Fodens Brass Band, was released last spring.
The concert soloist in Huddersfield is Paul Watkins, another musician to be admired, if not a little envied.
Paul has been a regular visitor to Huddersfield but more often in the role of conductor. On this occasion, he will switch to cello to play Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor.
This is the piece that he played at the Proms two years ago to great acclaim.
He plays on a cello made in Paris by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume in 1846.
The concert will include Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis and Walton’s Symphony No.1 in B flat minor.
Vaughan Williams wrote Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis in 1910 and revised it nine years later. It is seen as one of his most popular works.
The piece takes its name from the man who wrote the original melody, Thomas Tallis. It is a theme that will be familiar from films such as Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003).
The concert’s central cello piece was the last notable work written by Elgar and is a cornerstone of the solo cello repertoire.
English composer William Walton completed his Symphony No. 1 in B flat minor in 1935 and it is said to have been inspired by the end of a turbulent relationship.
There will be the regular pre-concert discussion in the main hall at 6.40pm.
Tickets are £7-£21.50 (plus concessions) from Kirklees Booking Offices or the ticket hotline: 01484 223200.
Full concert season details from www.kirklees.gov.uk/music or call 01484 234000 for a brochure.