Harrogate to host world premiere of Howard Blake’s The Snowman Symphony

Excitement is building as Harrogate Symphony Orchestra prepares for the spectacular world premiere of Howard Blake’s The Snowman Symphony.

Friday, 26th November 2021, 3:41 pm
Set for world premiere at the Royal Hall in Harrogate - The HSO’s musical director, Bryan Western has steered this large-scale orchestra for more than three decades

The forthcoming show at the Royal Hall is, perhaps, the biggest coup in the proud history of this ambitious amateur orchestra - as well as being the perfect event for the Christmas season.

The HSO’s conductor and long-time musical director, Bryan Western, who has steered this large-scale orchestra for more than three decades, said: “To be able to perform the world premiere is a great honour for Harrogate and the HSO. Rehearsals have been going on since the end of July in preparation.

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“There will be a narration from Oliver Longstaff and we will also have a small choir from members of the Harrogate Choral Society as part of the performance.”

One of Britain’s greatest living composers, Howard Blake made the news recently after a planned new adaptation of The Snowman scheduled to air on BBC Radio 4 on Christmas Day was scrapped after he made complaints about it.

He first wrote the music for the animated film The Snowman in 1982 which contained the hit single Walking In The Air.

A worldwide success, the revised full-length stage adaptation of The Snowman has been running in the West End for more than 20 years.

But, until now the Snowman Symphony, which was commissioned originally by the Sultan of Selangor, has never been performed.

Recent years have seen the HSO build up a good relationship with the pianist, conductor and composer who was awarded an OBE for services to music in 1994 by The Queen.

Bryan Western said: “Howard conducted the HSO in a performance of his Suite from Agatha in 2019, which was a great occasion and a huge honour for us.

“The relationship between HSO and Howard developed so well that Howard asked us to perform the world premiere of his Snowman Symphony.

“To highlight the whole experience, we have managed by kind permission from Penguin books to get stills from the original TV film, which will be projected on stage and the concert will also be streamed live online.”

Called Christmas with the Snowman, the exciting world premiere will take place in the second half of the HSO’s family-based concert on Sunday, December 19.

The first half will see a selection of Christmas favourites, including A Christmas Festival by Leroy Anderson, Shepherd’s Pipe Carol by John Rutter and A Christmas Overture by Nigel Hess plus new arrangements of two pieces by Bryan Western. Before that, the HSO will present its Winter Concert at the Royal Hall on Saturday, December 4.

Tickets for both concerts are available at www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk