The annual Mrs Sunderland Festival is launched on Sunday (February 5) with a workshop and concert – ahead of the festival itself which runs from February 15-25.

The festival at Huddersfield Town Hall is one of the largest of its kind in the country, attracting well over 4,000 performers during its 11-day programme.

There are over 120 classes including instrumental, vocal, choirs, musical theatre, speech and drama classes for all ages and abilities. These are complemented by a series of workshops for adult singers, special needs schools, key stage two schools, music for the brain and toddler workshops.

The annual Young Musician of the Year competition is the centrepiece. It’s open to those aspiring to be professional musicians from all over the country and carries a prize of £1,000.

Audiences are welcome throughout the festival and there are three showcase concerts to enjoy. These are: the culmination of a day’s singing at the adult choral workshop; a glimpse of some of the performances at the key stage two workshop; and the Last Night of the Festival Concert, which showcases some of the best performances of the festival along with the adult choir final class and a performance by the successful Young Musician of the Year.

Thom Meredith

SPECIAL EVENTS – Audiences welcome

Workshop and Concert

‘The Armed Man’ – Sir Karl Jenkins  Sunday February 5 – 9am-7pm

A Workshop and Concert on a performance of ‘The Armed Man’ by Sir Karl Jenkins. Written to commemorate the Kosovo crisis in 1999. The performance will be accompanied by an augmented concert orchestra with invited soloists.

Workshop leader: Thom Meredith – Thom led a previous performance of ‘The Armed Man’ in 2016 when the festival first introduced the workshop for adult singers. He is well known throughout the North of England as a conductor and baritone soloist and often leads exciting and rewarding singing workshops. He is also the principal of Musica Kirklees and the Musica orchestra’s regular conductor.

Accompanist: Jane Robertson. Soloists: Soprano, Madeleine North; Alto, Janet Cowley; Tenor, Richard Buxton; Baritone, Colin Shires; Call to Prayer: Mohammed Gaber

Concert Orchestra: Members of ‘Musica’ Kirklees Youth Symphony Orchestra and Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra

Date: Sunday February 5

Workshop: 9am-4.45pm Concert: 5.35pm-7pm

Venue: Huddersfield Town Hall

Concert Tickets: Adults £10: Children £0. Tickets available from the Kirklees Box Office.

Choirs performing at the Mrs Sunderland Festival

Young Musician of the Year 2023

Sunday February 19 – 10am and 2.30pm

The Young Musician of the Year contest is intended for young musicians of a high standard (at least grade 8 or equivalent) including those aiming towards or just beginning a professional career in music. The £1,000 prize will be used for their musical development.

The contest is open to 18 to 24 year olds across the United Kingdom and entry is limited to the first 20 eligible entrants. Contestants submit an own-choice programme to a maximum of 15 minutes.

The winner will be announced at the end of the contest and will play part of their programme at the Last Night of the Festival Concert on Saturday February 25 when the prize and trophy will be awarded by the Mayor of Kirklees.

Ticket prices: Adults one session £6, two sessions £10; Students one session £5, two sessions £8; Children (5-18 inclusive) one session £2, two sessions £3

Who are the 2023 performers?

Merel-Magali Cox – Mezzo-soprano voice from Royal Northern

Thomas Ellison – Cello from Royal Northern

Lucy Farrimond – Soprano voice from Royal Northern

Ellie Forrester – Mezzo-soprano voice from Royal Northern

Sarah Furnell – Flute from Leeds Conservatoire

Tom Hall – Percussion from Royal Northern

Ben Haslam – Tenor trombone from Royal Northern

Sophie Iliaifar – Mezzo-soprano voice from Royal Northern

William Jowett – Baritone voice from Royal Northern

Christopher Lo – Alto saxophone from Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Theodore McAlindon – Bass voice from Royal Academy of Music

Joseph Mahin – Euphonium from Royal Northern

Hope Marna – Soprano voice from Leeds Conservatoire

Tiffany Qiu – Piano from Royal Academy of Music

Hannah Seymour – Oboe from Royal Northern

Clara Hope Simpson – Cello from Royal Northern

Charlotte Soerland – Oboe from Royal Northern

Jeanette Szeto – Viola from Royal Northern

Charlotte Town – Soprano voice from Royal Welsh, Cardiff

Sinead Walsh – Flute from Royal Northern

Toddler Workshop – Monday February 20 at 10am and 11am

Early Years specialist Jackie Craig will lead parents, carers and their toddlers in a singing, playing and movement session at Huddersfield Town Hall designed to encourage communication while enjoying songs and rhymes.

There will be two morning sessions in the Old Court Room on Monday February 20. Drinks and biscuits will be available. The registration fee is £5 per child. Please book early to avoid disappointment. Workshop leader: Jackie Craig.

Festival Dance ShowcaseMonday February 20 at 7pm

A showcase of nine varied dance groups will showcase their performances. This is the first dance event the festival has held and it could lead the way for the introduction of a range of dance classes in 2024. The festival is now a truly inclusive performing arts festival. People are invited to go and watch. Tickets are £10 for adults with children under 18 years free.

Reach for the Stars 2023 – Tuesday February 21 at 10am

At the last festival, seven schools from across Kirklees and Calderdale joined together in various dance, drama and musical activities. The day will start with a workshop led by Dark Horse Theatre Group, followed by the opportunity for students to showcase their skills in prepared performances. An audience is welcomed at no charge.

Tea Dance – Tuesday February 21 at 2.30pm-4pm

A concert organised in conjunction with the Kirklees Dementia Hub, with music from Musica Kirklees and Lindley Junior School Choir.

Invited guests and their supporters can enjoy the music, sing, and if they wish, dance to the music of their youth played by today’s youth.

Audience and performers will have the opportunity to meet and chat over tea and cake.

KS2 Singing Workshop “Celebrate and Sing with the Musica Youth Orchestra

Thom Meredith will lead the workshop and introduce the children to the Musica Youth Orchestra, explaining how the orchestra is put together and hearing from some of the musical families.

This will cover many of the curriculum requirements related to knowledge of musical instruments and the ability to sing well in co-operation with others, and all this in the magnificent Town Hall venue.

The orchestra will also accompany the singing. The songs will be a selection of the most popular songs from previous years which should ensure a true celebration in song after such a long period of not being able to sing together.

Workshop leader: Thom Meredith Accompaniment: The Musica Youth Orchestra

Date: Thursday February 23 – 9.45am-11.30am

Evening concert for parents/carers: Thursday February 23 7pm-8pm

Tickets: Adults £5, children free – available from the Town Hall box office.

Schools involved in the workshop this year are: Birkenshaw Primary School; South Crosland Junior School; Meltham Moor Primary School, Reinwood Junior School, Oakes; Slaithwaite Junior School; Thornhill Junior School; Kirkburton CE First School; Lindley Junior School; Boothroyd Primary Academy, Dewsbury; Moldgreen; The Heights Federation, Golcar and Slaithwaite; St John’s CE Junior and Infants, Golcar; Newsome Junior School; Farnley Tyas First School; Holmfirth J/I School; Mount Pleasant Primary School, Lockwood; and Marsden J/I School.

The Last Night of the Festival Concert – Saturday February 25 7pm

A showcase of the range and standard of the many elements of the festival. This is the culmination of the whole 11-day festival of performing arts including adult choir finals, the Young Musician of the Year winner and other performances from across the festival.

Concert tickets are: Adults £10, children free – available from Kirklees Box Office HERE

For more information go to the festival website HERE.