Marking the Armistice 100 centenary this Autumn, an extensive collaborative programme of events has been announced in Leeds. Arts organisations, museums, local councils, historians and volunteers will come together to remember the sacrifice made by so many men and women during the First World War. With collaboration, community involvement and the development of young artists at its centre, the citywide programme takes in symphonic concerts, opera, music theatre, new media and exhibitions.

During the First World War, Leeds Town Hall served as the centre for local recruitment, administration and charity appeals, and received returning soldiers for a thanksgiving service in 1918. A century later, it is at the heart of the commemorations.

From 30 November, the Town Hall hosts the UK premiere of Silent Night, the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera by Kevin Puts. A lyrical, cinematic telling of the true story of the 1914 Christmas truce, when peace spontaneously broke out between French, German and Scottish troops in the trenches, Opera North’s concert staging features an international cast, the full Orchestra of Opera North and an expanded men’s Chorus, joined by a specially-recruited male community chorus, young singers from the Opera North Youth Chorus, and students from the Royal Northern College of Music.

The massed forces of the Orchestra of Opera North, the company’s Youth Chorus, Young Voices and Children’s Chorus perform a new micro-opera, The Songs of War on 22 November. Specially commissioned for Opera North’s youth ensembles from composer Will Todd (The Blackened Man; Mass in Blue), the piece depicts the conflicting emotions of war through the poetry of Maggie Gottlieb. Completing the programme, Górecki’s breathtaking third symphony, the ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’ picks up the themes of loss and separation caused by conflict.

The Orchestra of Opera North returns to the Town Hall for another large-scale collaboration on 25 November, joined by St Peter’s Singers and Sir Michael Morpurgo for War Horse: The Story in Concert.

Marking the centenary of both the cessation of hostilities and the formation of the Royal Air Force, the Orchestra of Opera North performs Carl Davis CBE’s live soundtrack for Wings, the barnstorming 1927 silent film, on October 20, conducted by the composer himself.



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