Opera North Returns to Millennium Square For Long Weekend
The 80s, the Club Scene & the Big Screen
Millennium Square, Leeds 2019
by Steve Crabtree – @stevecrab
The Orchestra of Opera North returns to Millennium Square, Leeds for another long weekend at the end of July. Jimmy Somerville, Nik Kershaw, Howard Jones and more join up for 80s Classical on Friday 26 July, and special guest vocalists for the third instalment of The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics on Saturday 27 July. A live soundtrack screening of Jurassic Park closes the weekend on Sunday 28 July.
Part of Leeds City Council’s summer programme on Millennium Square, the 80s Classical features the sounds of the musically momentous decade specially revamped, expanded and rearranged for Opera North’s 60-piece orchestra with vocals from the original artists.
Lead vocalist of Bronski Beat and The Communards, Jimmy Somerville will mark the 35th anniversary of his era-defining debut single ‘Smalltown Boy’ by joining the Orchestra for a newly orchestrated version. He’ll follow that up with hits ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’, ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ and more. “I’m so excited to be collaborating on these truly unique orchestral arrangements” says Jimmy. “It’s gonna be spectacular!”
Jimmy is joined on the bill by synth-pop superstars Howard Jones and Nik Kershaw. T’Pau singer and songwriter Carol Decker and sophisti-pop group Johnny Hates Jazz complete the line up. A talented ensemble of backing vocalists will step up to perform more 80s favourites.
The musical masterminds behind the concerts are composer and arranger Cliff Masterson and Musical Director Steve Anderson’s. His credits include Kylie Minogue, Emeli Sandé and Leona Lewis. “We’re absolutely thrilled to be back at Millennium Square”, says Cliff. “The 80s was such an amazing time for music. And to be able to add a fresh dimension to these iconic songs is incredibly exciting. This is the first UK show to combine a symphony orchestra with multiple original artists from a musical decade brimming with nostalgia, and it promises to be a night to remember!”
“Electronic elements which everyone loves”
Steve Anderson adds: “It is the most incredible honour to work with such iconic singers who have been pivotal in the soundtracks of so many people’s lives. And to be able to add an epic orchestral score on top of the richness and beauty of the existing electronic elements which everyone loves. Our continuing collaboration with the mighty Orchestra of Opera North is set to be a magical night. Full of joy, drama and simply the best music in the world.”
On Saturday night the focus shifts to the sounds that defined the next decade for a generation of Leeds clubbers. The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics reunites legendary Dave Beer with the Orchestra of Opera North again.
For the past two years the Basics concerts have offered a new way to experience clubbing. Orchestrally-enhanced dance anthems have delighted in Millennium Square’s stunning open-air arena. Guest artists have included Basement Jaxx, Corinne Bailey Rae and Alison Limerick. And this has been served up with large helpings of the good vibes that Beer’s Leeds institution is famed for. This year’s stellar line-up of original artists include the returning Rachel McFarlane, Heather Small of M-People and Rowetta. They are joined by Andy Cato & MC M.A.D of Groove Armada, voice of Livin Joy Janice Robinson and Sara Garvey.
“Leeds summer fixture”
Opera North in the City goes out with a blockbuster bang. 90s classic Jurassic Park is screened on the afternoon of Sunday 28 July. Following last year’s sold out screening of Brassed Off, the Orchestra of Opera North is back beneath the big screen to accompany the epic multi Oscar-winning films. The groundbreaking special effects, marauding raptors and deadly t-rex in HD comes together with John Williams’ colossal, white-knuckle score.
Phil Boughton, Director of Orchestra and Chorus, Opera North said: “We’re delighted that our Millennium Square residency is already thought of as a Leeds summer fixture. It’s certainly a highlight of the year for our Orchestra, who revel in the electric atmosphere, the collaborations with artists from the worlds of pop and dance music. And the chance to showcase their incredible versatility in the open air in the heart of our home city.
“It is hugely important that Opera North takes music out of our traditional settings to engage with different communities and audiences and this series does just that.”