Kirklees Concert Season

Kirklees Concert Season / News / Fri 09 Sep 2022

A riot of riffs, rhythm and jazz to open Kirklees Concert Season

A riot of riffs, rhythm and jazz to open Kirklees Concert Season

Opera North’s Music Director Garry Walker promises “a complete riot of a concert” to open the new Kirklees Concert Season at Huddersfield Town Hall on Thursday 15 September.

“We live in troubled times, and this is definitely a programme to lift the spirits”, says Walker, who will take the podium to conduct the company’s Orchestra, joined by one of the world’s greatest clarinettists, Julian Bliss, in concertos by Aaron Copland and Artie Shaw.

The evening opens with Gershwin’s An American in Paris, coloured by the sights and sounds of the city in the Jazz Age, and the inspiration in turn for the classic Gene Kelly film of the same name.

“I’ve loved the piece since I first saw the film as a kid”, says Walker. “It was the music which I remembered the most; then I got to play it in youth orchestra. You certainly feel as though you are immersed in the hustle and bustle of the French capital, seeing things through the eyes of a sophisticated, somewhat bewildered American. There are car horns, but also moments of real sensitivity and wonder”.

Huddersfield Town Hall has happy associations for Julian Bliss, who at the age of eight performed Sir Malcolm Arnold’s Second Clarinet Concerto there, in the presence of the composer. “Being back there is definitely going to bring back memories”, he says.

“After my performance, I went out into the hall where Sir Malcolm was sitting”, he remembers. “He was a man of few words, but he commented that he liked the performance and then gave me a £50 note! I was so excited and have never forgotten that.

“I’m very happy to have the chance to return, slightly older now, and I’d like to think a bit wiser!”

“Artie Shaw’s Clarinet Concerto is rooted in the 12-bar blues, and has a strong improvisatory feel about it, which of course makes a lot of sense as it was written by one of the greatest jazz clarinettists of that time. The Copland concerto, on the other hand, uses harmony that you could associate with jazz, but doesn’t follow traditional jazz patterns. It’s more… well, classical in its approach; more progressive and complex”.

“That incredible symbiosis between the jazz world – the saxophones, the trumpets, the drumkit, the percussion – and a big orchestra, is what this programme is all about”, says Garry Walker.

“Duke Ellington’s Harlem is probably the best example of that crossover. His music is so rich and creative, so direct: it’s a riot of colour and energy, like Harlem, and full of some incredibly memorable melodies. It’s got swing, a rhumba, a New Orleans style funeral March… it’s just an absolutely awesome piece”.

Rounded out by HK Gruber’s Manhattan Broadcasts – “eclectic, eccentric, and great fun”, enthuses the conductor – the evening promises “an amazing melting pot of jazz, classical, swing, klezmer and filmic music: the ultimate feelgood concert”.

Julian Bliss joins the Orchestra of Opera North conducted by Garry Walker in An American in Paris, at Huddersfield Town Hall on Thursday 15 September. Tickets are just £1 for anyone aged 16 and under, and £4 for under 30s and full-time students. Full price seats start at £13. To book, visit or

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Huddersfield Town Hall

Ramsden St

Telephone: 01484 225 755

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