AFTERNOON concerts have proved a big hit in Huddersfield which is why there is another this weekend.
At the heart of Sunday’s orchestral concert (January 23) at Huddersfield Town Hall is one of the epic works by Beethoven.
It fits perfectly with the theme of this year’s Kirklees concert season, Romantics and Revolutionaries.
“The theme could hardly be more appropriate in these turbulent times,” said Dougie Scarfe, concerts director for Opera North.
“There will be plenty of reminders during the season of how times of momentous change can often be a spur to the creation of great visionary art. One need only think of Beethoven for proof of that.
“Both romantic and revolutionary, he is at the heart of our orchestral season and in planning the year, we have drawn inspiration from his spirit.”
That message is part of the determination shown by the concert season organisers to be upbeat and positive in the face of undoubted economic pressure on arts funding.
That upbeat mood is certainly reflected in the choice of Beethoven’s Symphony No 3 in E, Eroica, which is at the heart of Sunday’s 3pm concert programme.
The concert will be conducted by internationally acclaimed Swiss conductor Matthias Bamert, who in recent years has been Music Director of the Malaysian Philharmonic in Kuala Lumpur and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.
The orchestra was to have been conducted by the distinguished Austrian maestro, Dietfried Bernet but he has had to withdraw from the engagement due to illness.
Dietfried Bernet was also scheduled to conduct Opera North’s new production of Fidelio in the spring.
Sir Richard Armstrong, one of the country’s most respected conductors, will now conduct the production at Leeds Grand Theatre and on tour.
Richard Mantle, General Director at Opera North, said: “Opera North is hoping to be able to work with Dietfried Bernet again in the future, and we send all our best wishes to him for a speedy recovery.
“In Dietfried’s absence this season, we are delighted to be welcoming at such short notice two distinguished conductors with very strong international reputations. “
This weekend’s concert in Huddersfield will open with music by Richard Strauss.
First comes the romantic Der Rosenkavalier: Suite, a celebration of the waltz influenced by the music of Vienna in the 19th century.
The orchestra will then play the Oboe Concerto which Strauss composed in 1945 at the very end of his career.
The piece will feature Richard Hewitt as Principal Oboist.
Richard has been a member of the Orchestra of Opera North for more than 20 years. He has also played with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Opera 80.
The afternoon’s finale will be Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E flat, better known as the Heroic Symphony.
One of the best known symphonies of all time, the Heroic Symphony evokes the bravery, strength and courage of great leaders, and includes a funeral march to their memory in the second movement. It is regarded as a turning point in musical history for its relationship to the political events of the day.
First performed in 1804, it is thought that Beethoven intended this symphony to be dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte, whom he greatly admired as a revolutionary leader. However, when Beethoven learned that Napoleon had declared himself emperor, he altered the dedication to ‘the memory of a great man’ – more appropriate perhaps given this revolutionary music’s universal appeal.
Before the concert begins, there will be a discussion called Talking Music, which begins in the concert hall at 2.10pm.
Tickets are priced at £7.50 to £22.50 (plus concessions) and are available from Kirklees Booking Offices, ticket hotline 01484 223200 or book online at www.kirklees.gov.uk/townhalls.
For opera fans, that production of Fidelio opens in Leeds on April 4 before going on tour.