Leeds Conservatoire and Opera North Host First Joint Orchestral Concert

By Gemma Cross


Students from Leeds Conservatoire joined forces with the Orchestra of Opera North in their first joint orchestral concert, in the evening of Friday 25 November, under the baton of Dutch conductor Frank Zielhorst.

Frank Zielhorst conducting. Photo credit Samantha Toolsie

An invite-only reception took place ahead of the concert. Here stakeholders and key arts organisations in Leeds were updated about developments and ambitions of the ongoing partnership between Leeds Conservatoire and Opera North, but from a student perspective, and the wider impact for culture in Leeds and beyond. 

Professor Joe Wilson (Principal, Leeds Conservatoire). Photo credit: Samantha Toolsie

The partnership between Leeds Conservatoire and Opera North began in 2019. In late 2021, the two organisations celebrated three years of successful partnership at a celebratory event at the Howard Assembly Room. The partnership was renewed for another three years until 2025, with a new focus on working together on key initiatives to promote equality, diversity and inclusion, investigating new ways of working together on curriculum development, and looking at how student voices at the conservatoire can help Opera North’s future programming and development.

Becky Smith (Head of Higher Education Partnerships, Opera North). Photo credit: Samantha Toolsie

Orchestral players and vocalists from the conservatoire take part in side-by-sides with members of Opera North. Key outcomes are learning and coaching from professionals, working in a professional setting, raising aspirations, and forging relationships. The first joint orchestral concert was arranged in response to student feedback. Previous performances were not open to the public.

Beth Winteringham (Students’ Union President, Leeds Conservatoire). Photo credit: Samantha Toolsie

On the evening, The Venue was filled with Bernstein and Dvořák, as well as lesser-known works by Nino Rota and Missy Mazzoli. Frank Zielhorst (Principal Conductor, Sinfonia Viva, Derby) conducted a programme featuring Rota’s Trombone Concerto in C and Mazzoli’s ‘Holy Roller,’ bookended by two cornerstones of the classical repertoire, Bernstein’s overture to Candide and Dvorak’s 9th Symphony, From the New World.

Orchestral concert underway in The Venue, Leeds Conservatoire. Photo credit: Samantha Toolsie

Damien Harron, Classical Programme Leader at Leeds Conservatoire, said, It is such a fantastic educational opportunity for our orchestral students to perform side-by-side with the brilliant members of the Orchestra of Opera North. In the past we have had side-by-side rehearsals but have now taken this further in performing publicly together also. Our partnership with Opera North really is unique in the conservatoire sector and we’re incredibly proud of what we can offer our students together.”

Phil Boughton, Director of Orchestra and Chorus at Opera North, added, “Opera North and Leeds Conservatoire are integral forces in sculpting the musical landscape of the city of Leeds and our wider region. For us, the partnership illustrates our desire in continuing to support the future generations of music and arts professionals. Together, we provide practice-based experiences which enhance students’ education and consequently their employability, skills and career development. We are committed to building upon the successes of our collaboration, responding to emerging opportunities and challenges as we work together to support initiatives which seek to develop equality, diversity and inclusion, whilst nurturing the musical excellence within our respective organisations, and across our sectors.”

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By Gemma Cross

Enjoy this clip from Crosswire Sessions: a series of performances from our Pop and Production pathway artists 🕺 🎵… https://t.co/CHyFtqET7l
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