The Orchestra of Opera North will return to Millennium Square, Leeds for another long weekend this summer, joined by Jimmy Somerville, Nik Kershaw, Howard Jones and more 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, with a live soundtrack screening of Jurassic Park to close the festival on Sunday 28 July.
Part of Leeds City Council’s summer programme on Millennium Square, the third Opera North in the City festival gets underway with 80s Classical, featuring 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.
Founder and lead vocalist of Bronski Beat and The Communards, solo star and icon of the LGBT rights movement Jimmy Somerville will mark the 35th anniversary of his era-defining debut single Smalltown Boy by joining the Orchestra for a newly orchestrated version, plus follow-up 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 of my catalogue, and bringing them to Leeds this summer”, says Jimmy. “It’s gonna be spectacular!”
Jimmy is joined on the bill by synth-pop superstars Howard Jones (New Song; What is Love) and Nik Kershaw (Wouldn’t It Be Good; I Won’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me), pure pop gold with T’Pau singer and songwriter Carol Decker (Heart and Soul; China In Your Hand), and sophisti-pop from Johnny Hates Jazz (Shattered Dreams, Turn Back the Clock). A talented ensemble of backing vocalists will step up to perform more 80s favourites.
The musical masterminds behind the 80s Classical and Back to Basics concerts, composer and arranger Cliff Masterson and Musical Director Steve Anderson’s credits include Kylie Minogue, Emeli Sandé and Leona Lewis. “We’re absolutely thrilled to be back at Millennium Square and sharing the stage with so many brilliant musicians and performers”, 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!”
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, as The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics reunites legendary ‘Purveyor of Good Times’ Dave Beer with the Orchestra of Opera North.
For the past two years the Basics concerts have offered a new way to experience clubbing, with orchestrally-enhanced dance anthems performed in Millennium Square’s stunning open-air arena, guest artists including Basement Jaxx, Corinne Bailey Rae, Alison Limerick, Utah Saints and Robin S, and large helpings of the good vibes that Beer’s Leeds institution is famed for. This year’s stellar line-up of original artists is due to be announced shortly.
Opera North in the City goes out with a blockbuster bang courtesy of another 90s classic, Jurassic Park, 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 film’s groundbreaking special effects, marauding raptors and deadly T-Rex in HD with John Williams’ colossal, white-knuckle score.
Phil Boughton, Director of Orchestra and Chorus, Opera North, comments: “As we prepare to bring back Opera North in the City for the third year running, 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.”
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, added: “This event is another exciting addition to the programme on Millennium Square that will offer a unique combination of classic nostalgia alongside some of the best of music in Leeds today. We’re very proud to bring such eclectic events to the heart of the city centre each year and the atmosphere is always fanatic whenever live acts performs on the square and entertain the crowds in the open air.”