270 people gather for socially distanced orchestral recital in Leeds

Audiences return to concerts as 270 people gather for socially distanced orchestral recital in pilot event at Leeds Town Hall

  • The Orchestra of Opera North and singer Nicholas Watts performed at Pilot Event: Live at Leeds Town Hall
  • Music lovers said the first concert since lockdown left them in ‘tears’  as coronavirus rules put place
  • Safety procedures included mandatory face coverings for the audience and socially distanced seating
  • Performance lasted just over an hour with no interval and no bars or refreshment stations were open

Overjoyed classical-music enthusiasts eagerly gathered for a socially-distanced concert at Leeds Town Hall last night.

Some 270 people attended Pilot Event: Live at Leeds Town Hall, where The Orchestra of Opera North and singer Nicholas Watts performed a selection of music by Mozart, Schubert and Mendelssohn.

Music lovers said the first concert since lockdown left them in ‘tears’ – as the venue put various coronavirus-prevention measures in place to protect both guests and performers alike.

Safety procedures included mandatory face coverings for the audience, socially distanced seating and hand sanitising stations on entry and around the venue.

The contact details of audience members were recorded to ensure they could be reached as part of NHS Track and Trace. 

The performance lasted just over an hour with no interval and – as part of safety measures – no bars or refreshment stations were open.

Overjoyed classical-music enthusiasts eagerly gathered for a socially-distanced concert at Leeds Town Hall last night (pictured)

Some 270 people attended Pilot Event: Live at Leeds Town Hall (pictured), where The Orchestra of Opera North and singer Nicholas Watts performed

A selection of music by Mozart, Schubert and Mendelssohn was performed at the event, where audience members remained socially distanced

Musicians from the Orchestra of Opera North rehearse in Leeds Town Hall prior to this evening’s Pilot Event: Live at Leeds Town Hall 

Safety procedures included mandatory face coverings for the audience, socially distanced seating and hand sanitising stations on entry and around the venue

The contact details of audience members (pictured socially distanced) were recorded to ensure they could be reached as part of NHS Track and Trace

The performance (musicians pictured rehearsing) lasted just over an hour with no interval and – as part of safety measures – no bars or refreshment stations were open

Anna Mackenzie wrote on Twitter: ‘Tears. Lots of tears listening to The Orchestra of Opera North. First live performance since lockdown. Thank you for a moving and memorable performance.’

Concertgoer Helena Fairfax added: ‘This was brilliant! Really exciting to attend live music again in such a fab venue. Can’t wait to come back again.’

Cellist Jonathan Pether – who performed in last night’s concert – wrote: ‘I’m feeling incredibly lucky and enriched to have been performing in this concert tonight. The sound of live applause as we walked on stage was truly something.’ 

Events coordinator Manpreet added: ‘Sold out in under 10 mins! So lovely to know how excited our supporters are.’ 

The concert fell the same night that the live-music leg of the BBC Proms kicked off with a composition ‘exploring themes of identity’ by a renowned Black British composer. 

The world premiere of Hannah Kendall’s Tuxedo: Vasco ‘de’ Gama opened the programme on BBC Two last night at the Royal Albert Hall.

Anna Mackenzie wrote on Twitter: ‘Tears. Lots of tears listening to The Orchestra of Opera North (pictured performing). First live performance since lockdown. Thank you for a moving and memorable performance’

Kendall sat in the audience as her spine-tingling Basquiat-inspired composition was performed to empty seats.

Classical-music enthusiasts have to watch the show from their sofas this year due to coronavirus restrictions as performers remained spaced out in a socially-distanced arrangement.

The final two weeks of the season will end with the much-talked about Last Night of the Proms, which has been hit with controversy surrounding the BBC’s decision remove the lyrics from Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory after critics claimed the patriotic anthems were ‘racist’. 

Cellist and composer Ayanna Witter-Johnson – who appeared as a guest alongside Stephen Fry – discussed Kendall’s piece with Proms presenter Katie Derham.

The performances of Mendelssohn, Schubert and Mozart last night are the first concert of live music in Leeds Town Hall since the Government introduced lockdown

Performers all sat apart on stage to make sure social distancing rules were enforced during the concert at Leeds Town Hall last night 

The musician, who is also a friend of Kendall, said: ‘I can only imagine as a young British composer of African-Caribbean ancestry exploring themes of identity in this unprecedented year where we celebrate 70 years of Windrush, in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, and a pandemic and a Prom like no other.

‘Honestly she’s got to be feeling just incredibly out of this world. She’s probably feeling very very honoured.’

The BBC’s classic music series has this year been embroiled in controversy over whether Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory should be sung on its final night.

As it stands, the patriotic songs will be played by an orchestra only on September 12, supposedly because the lack of an audience will diminish their impact. 

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