With plans afoot for the return of live performances to the Kirklees Concert Season for 2021- 22, Kirklees Council has announced the appointment of David Pipe as Guest Curator of the forthcoming organ programme, and a new Emeritus position for the popular former Borough Organist Dr Gordon Stewart.

Cathedral Organist for the Diocese of Leeds, David Pipe is also Artistic Director of the Leeds International Organ Festival. His wide-reaching programme there features workshops and events designed to introduce children to the instrument, and his many other educational roles include Head of Organ Studies at the University of Huddersfield. During lockdown, his warm and entertaining Pipe Up! podcasts have brought his knowledge and enthusiasm to an international audience.

Acknowledging the loyalty and sense of community inspired by the Organ Concert Season, and with Kirklees Year of Music approaching in 2023, David and the Council will work with audiences to determine the best course for the long-term programme for Huddersfield Town Hall’s famous Father Willis organ, which dates back to 1860.

David Pipe, Guest Curator, Kirklees Concert Season, comments:
“I’m very excited to have this wonderful opportunity to curate the 2021-22 organ programme. I’ve long admired Gordon Stewart’s inimitable energy and enthusiasm, which has built up such a loyal following for these concerts. The Town Hall’s organ is one of the finest in the country, and offers great versatility for exploring the organ repertoire. I’m really looking forward to getting to know the audience, and to bringing another exciting programme of organ music to Huddersfield.”

Meanwhile, a welcome return is planned for former Borough Organist Dr Gordon Stewart, who has performed at and curated concerts in Huddersfield Town Hall for the last 30 years. Through lockdown, his streamed concerts from the venue delighted regulars, reached new audiences in care homes through a Council initiative, and brought the distinctive range and colour of Huddersfield’s instrument to music lovers worldwide.

Gordon bowed out with a streamed Christmas Concert in December, but his first engagement in the newly-created position of Organist Emeritus will be a “farewell” concert for a real-life audience, celebrating his long service and the affection in which he is held.

Dr Gordon Stewart, Kirklees Borough Organist Emeritus, comments:
“It has been a great privilege to have been one of the few remaining civic organists for the past 30 years. Our audience is very much part of what we do: that Kirklees family is a really important thing. It’s what I love about Yorkshire: the loyalty and the sense of everyone being part of the things that we create, and that’s something I’ve really missed experiencing in person over the last year.

“I’m very much looking forward to returning once restrictions are lifted, to thank the audience members and the team at Kirklees who have been such a great support over the years.”

Colin Parr, Strategic Director responsible for Culture at Kirklees Council, comments:
“We are delighted to be working towards live performances with real life audiences again in Kirklees, and look forward to welcoming back David and Gordon, along with concert lovers from across the borough to hear our Town Halls come alive with music once again. The 2021-22 concert season programme promises to be worth the wait with world class music scheduled throughout.”

An announcement of the full Kirklees Concert Season programme for 2021-22 is due in the coming weeks, continuing the historic partnership between Kirklees Council and Opera North. Depending on the success of the roadmap out of lockdown over the summer, the new season will see the return of live world-class orchestral, chamber and organ music to Huddersfield and Dewsbury Town Halls after a year of enforced silence.

Written by: Rowland Thomas, Press Officer, Opera North