The countdown is over, it all starts here. For today sees the start of this year’s Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and over the next 10 days, the town will be packed with musicians, composers and performers from across the world.

The audiences which will flock to a range of town centre venues will be similarly cosmopolitan. And it pretty much says it all about what they will hear and see too.

If it’s new, cutting edge and thought-provoking music, Huddersfield is where you simply must be over the next couple of weeks.

In that time, the festival will present 31 world premieres and 94 UK premieres in a programme curated once again by HCMF’s remarkable artistic director, Graham McKenzie whose vision drives the identity of this world-renowned event.

There will be concerts, music-theatre, dance, multi-media, talks and film. Running alongside all of that is a Learning and Participation programme  created to reflect the festival’s artistic programme and respond to regional need.

Throughout this, the 36th festival, expect to hear new work from big names in the  contemporary music world including a brand new piece by renowned composer Brian Ferneyhough. He’s in his 70th year and what a way to celebrate a birthday and yes, he will be at the festival.

There are many more composers lining up to offer new ideas and new work. Premieres this year include pieces from the festival’s composer in residence, Catalan artist Hèctor Parra, alongside Gérard Pesson, Rebecca Saunders, Alberto Posadas, Simon Steen-Andersen and Barry Guy. Among others.

 Picking out highlights is always difficult but one of the festival talking points is bound to be a new work for the BBC Singers which features transcripts from the Pussy Riot trial.

Festival Chief Executive Graham McKenzie
Festival Chief Executive Graham McKenzie

Three members of the Russian female punk rock band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in prison for performing a song critical of President Vladimir Putin in a church.

Norwegian composer, Cecilie Ore has created a new piece, Come to the Edge!, which is a co-commission between HCMF and BBC Radio 3 for the BBC Singers which uses transcripts from the controversial trial.

It is a decade since the exceptional BBC Singers were last at the festival – this is certainly a headline grabbing return.

There’s also a new mixed media version of Cecilie’s unsettling 2001 electroacoustic work A. - a shadow opera, which will be presented at the  Yorkshire Sculpture Park later today (November 15).

If you are interested in folk culture and mythology, there’s a whole day  dedicated to free community events and performances around folk music, myth and legend. That’s on the final day of the festival which is Sunday,  November 24.

Watch out too for an unconventional Piano Duo Day.

It’s on Wednesday, November 20 at the Phipps Hall and even includes a piece for two handcuffed pianists. This is HCMF after all.

Tonight though, the festival’s opening concert turns the spotlight on its composer in residence, Hèctor Parra.

Born in Barcelona and based in Paris, Hèctor’s work is already well established at the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique in Paris, and in demand among Europe’s leading ensembles.

His intricate yet accessible music provides the focus of the festival’s opening concert at St Paul’s Hall tonight ( Friday, November 15) when his two string quartets will be performed by festival favourites, the Arditti Quartet.

 Next Friday (November 22), Catalonia's premier contemporary classical music ensemble BCN 216 makes its Huddersfield debut, with the UK premieres of two major, large-scale works by Parra.

This Sunday (November 17) , the composer, on electronics, will team up with pianist Agustí Fernandez for the world premiere of new experimental work FREC, followed on Tuesday 19 November by ELISION cellist Séverine Ballon performing the UK premiere of Parra’s tentatives de réalité.

You can check on artists, dates, venues and times at where you can also book tickets. Book by telephone on 01484 430528