2015 News


England’s top brass band prepare to bring a touch of Christmas sparkle to Harrogate

Fresh from their recent success in the British Brass Band Championship, the award winning and spectacular Brighouse and Rastrick Band, are preparing once again to come to Harrogate where they will join forces with us for our annual Christmas Concerts on Saturday December 19, 2.30pm and 7.30pm at the Royal Hall.

In October, the Brighouse and Rastrick Band won top placed English Band in the National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall and will now represent England at the European Brass Band Festival in Belgium in 2017 – they are already representing England at the 2016 European Brass Band Festival in Lille, France.

With a huge range of emotional and musical depth, the Brighouse and Rastrick performances have been hailed as ‘amazing’. Judges at the national finals described their performance as 'a stunning performance exuding quality and musical splendour'.

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 single chart, and this year the band are planning to bring it out of retirement as a rousing encore.


Pirates, Rudolph and brass

We were thrilled to have received great coverage in the Harrogate Advertiser this week - a half page dedicated to the society's news of the forthcoming Christmas Concert at the Royal Hall on 19 December. There were some snippets of information about some of the music to be performed, including a nice little number featuring Rudolph (you know, the rednose reindeer, but this time with a twist thanks to the appearance of a pirate or too - a preview of our 2016 production of The Pirates of Penzance. Click on the link on our Home page to buy tickets online - and don't forget, accompanied children under 16 get free seats!


Pirates of Penzance 2016 - audition details for principals now available

Details are now published for those people who wish to audition for a principal role in our 2016 production of Pirates of Penzance. Please visit the Members Page from the left hand menu and click on 'Auditions'. A form is available for download to complete and return either in hard copy or by email.


The International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival awards

The Society received three nominations for our performance of Princess Ida:

Best female performer - Rachel Louise Warren as Princess Ida
Best character actress - Val Green as Lady Blanche
Best character actor - David MacDonald as King Gama

We were delighted to be in the line-up and extend a big thank you to everyone who contributed to our fantastic production - cast, crew, production, orchestra and enthusiastic audience - and for making it so enjoyable.

A thank you to our audiences for Princess Ida

This year we have been very excited to bring to our audiences the epic comic opera, Princess Ida. Although less well-known than many other G&S operas, for many people, it is their favourite as it contains some of Sullivan's most beautiful music and some hilarious comic moments

We completed our performances at our usual venue, Harrogate Theatre, in May and then again at the beautiful Royal Hall in August as part of the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, now in its second year in Harrogate. We would like to thank our audience members - long-standing faces and new faces - for the enthusiastic response you gave us. We thoroughly enjoyed entertaining you and thank you for your support.

The society welcomes members of the public to an evening of Travels with a Tenor

The Society has arranged a Special Club Night taking place on Monday 10th August at St.Paul's church hall, Harrogate (starting at 7.30pm) to which all members of the public are welcome. Donald Stephenson, who has taken many of our principal roles in the past few years, is giving a talk about the career of a freelance opera singer. The talk lasts an hour and is illustrated with 6-8 musical items from his repertoire, and there will be an opportunity for a Q&A session afterwards. Refreshments will be available.

This promises to be a very enjoyable and informative evening and we hope to welcome some new faces - whether visitors to Harrogate as part of the International G&S Festival, or locally based and interested to see what we do - and maybe have an interest in joining us as a member.

A very quick look at Donald's background will tell you why we are so excited about this evening:

Donald studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and the National Opera Studio, London, and made his debut with Welsh National Opera. He has sung for Scottish Opera, English National Opera, Opera North and at Glyndebourne and even the Edinburgh Festival. Donald has been a regular visitor to the Aldeburgh Festival, where he performed Britten roles, also in Florence, Rome, New York, Covent Garden, Sadler’s Wells, and on UK tour. His concert work has taken him to Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, and London at the Royal Festival Hall, Barbican, and Royal Albert Hall. Donald has broadcast on BBC, German, Portuguese, French, and Spanish Radios and has performed Gilbert & Sullivan in the UK and abroad - and even the Mikado in Japan!

Donald performing as the Mikado in HGSS 2013 production that won him the Best Character Actor award at the International G&S Festival in the same year.


NODA report on Princess Ida published

We are pleased to be able to publish the NODA report, courtesy of Sally Holmes who kindly attended our Friday evening performance - please read her critique on our Princess Ida page.

Princess Ida dress rehearsal photos

We had a great dress rehearsal at Harrogate Theatre last night and wasted no time in bringing to you a sneaky look at what happens on stage, with first night tonight! Take a look at our new page under Princess Ida. Hope you have your tickets - if not, see our Home page for ticket prices and the link to the Harrogate Theatre website to buy online

Giving birth to a new princess

As the society gives birth to Princess Ida this May, the model whose picture appears on all our publicity has just given birth herself. Princess Ida, described as a feisty medieval feminist who leads her army of women into battle against the male half of the population, has been portrayed on posters and even beermats which have appeared all around Harrogate by Rachel Carter, the daughter- in- law of one of the cast, press officer, John Carter.

But Rachel herself isn't playing the title role of Princess Ida, particularly as two weeks before the show she has just given birth to her own little princess, Chloe Suzanne.

Rachel, a college librarian, and husband Chris already have two daughters and live in Kirkham near Preston. She was persuaded to take part in the photo-shoot for Princess Ida last September - before the title role of Princess Ida was cast - and before she realised she was pregnant!

"It was fun to be asked to model in medieval costume" says Rachel, "but I have no desire to take to the stage - and will have my hands full as the show is being performed!"

Princess Ida immortalised on a beer mat!

Princess Ida has been spotted in many establishments in and around Harrogate immortalised on a beer mat! If you spot one on your travels around town, please remember to turn it over first to see what's on the back before using it!


Ripley Castle forms the backdrop for Princess Ida photoshoot

A sneaky look behind the camera at the recent photo shoot at Ripley Castle. You can see our colourful cast in all their glory by visiting our Princess Ida page - keep visiting as more photos and information will be added in the build-up to the show

Competition winners each receive two free tickets to Princess Ida

We are delighted to have received so many entries to our competition held in the March issue of Down Your Way magazine, Yorkshire's nostalgia magazine, and sister to the Dalesman. We can announce the winners as follows, who each receive two complimentary tickets to the performance of their choice and we look forward to welcoming them to the theatre and as very valued members of our audience:
Mrs J Woodhead, Ripon
Mrs M Sutton, Skipton
Ms J Beddow, Bradford
Mr P Welburn, Scarborough
Mr R Ives, Leeds
Mr S Switala, Bradford


A great evening listening to Desert Island Discs

Society members had a break from rehearsing for Princess Ida at a recent Club Night and instead enjoyed a marvellously eclectic choice of music that Oliver Longstaff, our Musical Director, would take to his Desert Island. Fans of the long running Radio 4 show may like to know his choices were as follows - what a great evening! Oliver - thank you for sharing!

1) The Entertainer - Scott Joplin (Itzhak Perlman, violin, & Andre Previn, piano)
2) Brahms' 3rd Symphony (Kensington Symphony Orchestra, Russell Keable, conductor)
3) The Marriage of Figaro - Mozart (Leeds College of Music, John Longstaff, conductor)
4) How to write your own Gilbert & Sullivan opera - Anna Russell
5) Nielsen's 3rd Symphony - Symphony Espansiva (San Francisco Symphony, Herbert Blomstedt, conductor)
6) Konzertstuck for 4 horns and orchestra - Schumann (Philharmonia Orchestra, Christian Thielemann, conductor)
7) Wish you were here - Pink Floyd
8) Porgy and Bess - Gershwin (Glyndebourne Festival Opera, London Philhamonic Orchestra, Simon Rattle, conductor)

Book choice (besides the Bible and Shakespeare) - the Wisden Cricketer's Almanac
Luxury - A piano
The disc to save before all others - Nielsen 3


Things go a little 'topsy turvy' at Club Night

Society members had a very enjoyable - if somewhat confusing - Club Night when the tables were turned. To coin a phrase, or rather to turn it on its head, this was an evening when boys will be girls and girls will be boys....


Help the Society raise funds for free when you shop online!

Please support us when you shop online. When you want to make an online purchase, please consider accessing the supplier you want by going through the easyfundraising.org.uk web page first. Clicking through this web page to the supplier from whom you want to make your purchase will give a cash reward that is turned into a donation to the society - and at no extra cost to yourself. Examples of retailers who support easyfunding can be seen below. Please visit our Easyfundraising page from the left hand menu to sign up and create your easyfundraising account. Thank you!