A music festival aimed at introducing more people to live classical performance is returning to Slaithwaite.

&Piano is a festival aimed at bringing communities together through live classical music and celebrating musicians with a connection to the North of England.

This is the first time the annual music festival has been able to go ahead since the start of the pandemic, with the last festival being held in September 2019.

This time, the festival will run between Sunday May 1 and Saturday May 14 with six relaxed events featuring musical theatre, song and instrumental music – all held at The Civic in Slaithwaite.

All the events feature exceptional professional musicians who perform regularly with some of the biggest arts organisations around the country, including Opera North, the Hallé and Welsh National Opera.

This is &Piano’s biggest festival yet, and it’s packed with opportunities to come together, listen and discover live music in a relaxed setting.

Heather Lowe performs during &Piano in 2019

The festival begins on May 1 with an Afternoon of Musical Theatre, featuring a varied selection of some of the best songs from the shows performed by two professional musical theatre singers – Laura Coard and Sam Kipling.

On Friday May 6, Neil Balfour and Charlotte Trepass present an evening of songs about voyages and voices, featuring songs about love and death by Richard Strauss, songs about travel by American composer Jake Heggie and songs about the legendary Spanish knight Don Quixote by Jacques Ibert.

Then on Saturday May 7, there is a packed day of events designed for people of all ages to enjoy live classical music.

At 11am there’s the family event ‘Family&Piano’ – a short 40-minute interactive performance designed for families with small children.

This year the theme is ‘outer space’ with astronaut singer Charlie Trepass and cellist Stephen Laidlaw performing.

At 2pm there’s a short 40-minute ‘Relaxed Performance’ – completely free for anyone to attend, and with a relaxed attitude about making noise or movement – perfect for families or anyone who might be curious about attending a live classical music performance.

On Saturday May 7 at 7.30pm the Young Musician Showcase which will feature a selection of some of the most talented young musicians from around Kirklees and Calderdale – bringing together students from Greenhead College, Huddersfield New College and the University of Huddersfield.

Finally, the festival comes to a close on Saturday May 14 with principal cellist No2 of the Hallé, Simon Turner, and clarinetist Rae Todd who will perform an exciting programme of music including Shostakovitch’s Cello Sonata, and Joseph Horovitz’s jazzy Clarinet Sonatina.

Then, along with &Piano artistic director Christopher Pulleyn, all three performers will come together to perform Beethoven’s Clarinet Trio Op.11 and music by Thea Musgrave.

Thom Meredith performs at &Piano 2018

Mr Pulleyn said: “I’m so excited that we’re finally able to bring &Piano back after an uncertain couple of years during the pandemic.

“We only started the festival in 2018, and just became a charity almost a month before everything got shut down.

“Huddersfield is packed with so many fantastic musical groups from choirs to orchestras, so it was particularly strange seeing the town so quiet with no musical activity.

“Classical music has helped define the town so much, right back from the founding days of the Mrs Sunderland Music Festival and the Huddersfield Choral Society all the way back in the 19th century.

“Growing up in this vibrant music scene has helped define me as the musician I am today, and through &Piano I’m determined to keep classical music alive and relevant for residents and communities that live throughout the town today.

“We have a fantastic line-up of amazing performers who are currently performing all over the country, and it’s such a pleasure to be able to bring them to Slaithwaite for people to enjoy and experience without needing to travel very far.”

Information about all the events, and how to book tickets, can be found at www.andpiano.co.uk. Tickets start at £10, with discounts if attending multiple events, and £5 for people 30 and under.