2013 News

December 2013

Superb audiences at our Christmas Concerts where we supported our nominated charities for 2013

A big thank you to our large and enthusiastic audiences who came to our Christmas concerts at The Royal Hall, Harrogate. They heard the society sing an eclectic range of music: A Christmas Medley, a medley from Showboat, and numbers from various Gilbert & Sullivan operettas including a preview of HMS Pinafore that the Society will be performing in Harrogate Theatre in May 2014.

The Brighouse & Rastrick Band delighted the audiences as usual who were treated to their rousing encore piece - the Floral Dance which has a firm place in their repertoire since reaching no.2 in the Christmas singles chart in 1977.

The Society was especially delighted to take the opportunity to present donations to its' chosen charities for 2013. Mrs Catherine Culligan, Chairman of the Society, can be seen in the photographs below making the presentations in the presence of The Mayor of Harrogate, Mr Michael Newby and his consort, Mr Clive Kirkham

Above, Yorkshire Air Ambulance represented by Ms Melanie Devine received a cheque for £400

Above, Springboard Homeless Project represented by Mr and Mrs Geoff Webber received a cheque for £300

Above, Henshaws Society for blind people represented by Ms Lisa Sherritt received a cheque for £300

December 2013

Two top musical performers as the Society hosts a glittering Christmas concert at The Royal Hall

Two world class musicians will be highlighted at a glittering Christmas Concert taking place at the Royal Hall Harrogate, on Saturday December 21st.

The world famous Brighouse and Rastrick Band, National Champions of Great Britain in 2010 and 2011, will return to Harrogate for their ever popular joint Christmas concert with the award winning Harrogate Gilbert and Sullivan Society.

The Christmas Concert at the Royal Hall will take place twice on Saturday December 21st with a 2.30pm matinee and a 7.30pm evening concert and has become a firm seasonal favourite in Harrogate.

This year, two award winning musicians will be among the glittering line-up on the Royal Hall stage:

Former Welsh National Opera star, Donald Stephenson, will be a soloist in the Society’s popular medley of G&S favourites – just part of a programme which also includes festive carols and Christmas music. Donald, who recently came out of retirement after a glittering international career to play the role of the Mikado with the Society has starred with the Welsh National Opera, English National Opera, Opera North, Scottish Opera and at the Aldeburgh festival with Peter Pears - playing such roles as Florestan in Fidelio, Siegmund in Wagner’s Ring Cycle and Cavaradossi in Tosca. Audiences at the Royal Hall on December 21st will be able to hear Donald performing solos from Iolanthe and HMS Pinafore.

Meanwhile, David Thornton, the Brighouse and Rastrick’s Principal Euphonium player, who was awarded the outstanding Instrumentalist of the Year award at this year’s National Brass Band Championships - a huge accolade – will be one of the featured soloists as the band bring their masterful renditions of seasonal music to the Royal Hall stage. David came first out of 600 top musicians in the prestigious competition in which the band gained a podium place.

The Brighouse & Rastrick Band have been favourites at Christmas concerts for many years -in 1977 their rendition of the Floral Dance reached the number 2 spot in the Christmas singles chart. These days the Floral Dance still makes a regular appearance as a rousing encore piece – and who knows, it may do again this year!

October 2013

Judith Hardman retires after 5 years of service to the Society as Chairman

At the recent AGM, members gave a big vote of thanks to retiring Chairman, Judith Hardman (also one of our founding members) for 5 years service to the society in that role.  Everyone in the society has appreciated her hard work, dedication and guidance over that period and, as expressed by committee member, Joan Alderson, in her speech of thanks 'Don't go!' (quoting Gilbert's words from Iolanthe) - other than to take a well-earned rest after a demanding job very well done.  Judith is seen right in the photograph accepting a bouquet of flowers from Joan

Votes of thanks were also warmly expressed to all members of the committee, whether retiring or continuing to serve the society.  We now welcome our new Chairman Catherine Culligan and other new committee members - see the Officials page.

August 2013

2013 Gilbert & Sullivan Festival Awards

We are absolutely delighted to report that the Society's production of The Mikado in Buxton earlier this month won the following award:
2013 Gilbert & Sullivan Festival Award - 2nd Runners Up
Best Traditional Opera
Best Character Actor - Donald Stephenson as The Mikado

Congratulations to everyone who took part, helped back-stage, assisted and supported us in any way (including the encouragement from our fantastic audiences) - it all mattered, and we are immensely proud of these achievements.

August 2013

The Society performs The Mikado at the Gilbert & Sullivan International Festival, Buxton

The Society will be performing The Mikado as part of the Gilbert & Sullivan International Festival on Monday 5th August at the Buxton Opera House.  It is an honour to be part of this fantastic festival and to have the opportunity to perform on a different stage - especially this year as the festival bows out of Buxton and moves to our home town in 2014. 


July 2013

The Society celebrates its' 40th anniversary with a summer BBQ

Society members, their partners and children enjoyed a lovely summer's evening at a Society BBQ hosted by Society member, Mike Dixon and his family.  As part of the evening, people had a chance to compete in two Gilbert & Sullivan quizzes where, perhaps unsurprisingly, a few members knew all the answers - and were rewarded accordingly!  Well done to those winners!

The evening could not go by without the production of a superb anniversary cake baked by another Society member, Sue Bunten.  This was cut in the usual celebratory fashion jointly by Judith Hardman (founder member and Chairman), Sylvia Horwell and Jane Charlton (both in our first production), and Betty Bratley (our late Chairman's wife).

Thanks go to all those who hosted, organised, helped and attended a very enjoyable evening. 

May 2013

Reuniting members of the Society from the first-ever production 40 years ago

After some super-sleuthing by some of the present members, 15 cast members from the Society's first-ever production of The Mikado will gather at Harrogate Theatre 40 years on as they take their seats as special guests for the opening night of the Society's 40th anniversary production of The Mikado.

Judith Hardman, chairman of the Society said: 'It has been tremendous fun contacting our past members, some of whom will be travelling quite some distance to be with us.  I do hope that everyone enjoys the show and their reunion as much as we have enjoyed arranging it'.

However, one of the chorus for that first production will not be in the main auditorium as she will in fact be on stage herself.  Sylvia Horwell is one of the founder members of the Society having attended the inaugural meeting in 1972.  She has participated as a chorus member in every annual production to date as well as being asked on occasions to take principal roles within the society's monthly club nights. 

The society is delighted to welcome back its previous members for what could turn out to be a very emotional reunion.

May 2013

Competition winners receive complimentary tickets to The Mikado

Congratulations to the winners of our competition in The Dalesman magazine who each receive two tickets to see The Mikado.

First out of the hat from the correct entries submitted are:

Mr Hitchen, Huddersfield
Mr Nye, York
Mrs Strangeway, York
Mrs Andrew, York
Mrs W, York

March 2013

Help make the opening night of The Mikado special

The society would like a very special audience to help it celebrate the opening night of their 40th anniversary production on 22 May.  There are a number of founder members still active in the society but it would make the opening night very special if it could be shared and celebrated with anyone who was in the first production - whether patron, founder member, performer on stage, or helping front of house or back stage.  Anyone who would like to get involved in the reunion on the opening night with a pre-show drink in the Theatre Stalls Bar at 6.30pm should contact the society's Chairman, Judith Hardman on 01274 568305

March 2013

Sir Thomas Ingilby reveals his own Mikado 'disaster'!

On the eve of the Society's 40th anniversary and forthcoming new production of The Mikado, the Society’s president, Sir Thomas Ingilby of Ripley Castle, has revealed that he once played an unexpected and almost disastrous role in a Mikado school production.
In an entertaining Society celebration evening, Sir Thomas regaled a packed audience with his Desert Island Discs and revealed his own foray into the world of Gilbert & Sullivan when he took on the role of Technical Director for a school production of The Mikado. It was a role that he was not asked to repeat after he almost brought the show to a halt by setting off a fire extinguisher as a dramatic ‘special effect’ for the grand entrance of the Mikado.
While this year’s production at Harrogate Theatre promises to be spectacular, with large cast and orchestra, under the professional direction of ex D’Oyly Carte star, Alistair Donkin, it is unlikely to include exploding fire extinguishers!
Sir Thomas also delighted his audience with colourful insights into his past and the music that has meant so much to him.  His desert island choices included Simon and Garfunkel's 'America' - a reminder of his days crossing many US states in a Greyhound bus, and  'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' - dedicated by Elton John to the men at the time on active service in the Falklands war. 'Invisible Touch' by Genesis took Sir Thomas back to the days when he and his staff helped out behind the bar at the Knebworth Festival and more contemplative moments were shared with Simply Red's 'Someday in My Life' and 'Something Beautiful Remains' sung by Tina Turner.
Sir Thomas shared some of his proudest moments with the Society - chairman of governors at Cundall Manor School, running the largest village cricket league in the world and receiving the Harrogate Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.
And why would Sir Thomas choose as his ‘luxury’, a bucket and spade? Why, he said, to be able to rebuild his castle every day and not have to spend a fortune on the restoration and maintenance costs that have that been part of his life since inheriting Ripley Castle when he was 18!