Our music guide boasts diversity and variety galore right now – from legendary Brazilian Tropicália band Os Mutantes at Band on the Wall to Swedish folk titan José González at the Albert Hall – plus the likes of Sheffield Chamber Music Festival, bluedot, Head for the Hills and The Good Life Experience all within striking distance of Manchester. Add in an all-dayer at Halifax’s Piece Hall, headlined by Father John Misty, and adventurous programming by The Stoller Hall, BBC Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata and the RNCM, and things are looking rosy for music fans in the North.
Here are our picks
RNCM Young Company combines with The Circus House to present Letters – a new work featuring music, dance and acrobatics, which examines the shared experiences of Mancunians and Parisians over the past century.
Featuring a UK-exclusive headline set by Grammy winner Father John Misty, this day-long event in the courtyard of Halifax’s Grade I-listed Piece Hall boasts strength in depth thanks to the involvement of Edwyn Collins, Hookworms and The Orielles.
Hugo Ticciati combines Vivaldi Concertos with arrangements of music by Muse, Metallica and Dream Theatre – demonstrating that the Baroque composer’s work was just as raucous during his lifetime as anything today’s rock stars can offer.
Band on the Wall celebrates the TUC’s 150th anniversary with a week-long programme of folk concerts at the Mechanics’ Institute, featuring the likes of Kathryn Williams, Oysters 3, Mike Harding and Edward II. The programme also includes a free, relaxed ‘Folk On A Friday Night’ concert where the audience are invited to take part.
For his final Bridgewater Hall concert as the BBC Philharmonic’s Chief Conductor, Juanjo Mena spirits us away to his Spanish homeland with a programme that includes a concert performance of Manuel de Falla’s vibrant hour-long opera, La vida breve.
Featuring classical, sacred and jazz music, as well as poetry, theatre and dance, the RNCM’s Summer Season looks set to both inspire and surprise. Read our picks for the months ahead – with a live organ soundtrack to F W Murnau’s silent film Sunrise and a performance of Ravel’s timeless Daphnis et Chloé by the RNCM Symphony Orchestra among the stand-out events.
Entering its third year in 2018, bluedot is a festival of discovery located in the shadow of the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics; the iconic space observatory and the heart of our quest for knowledge. Featuring the likes of Jean-Michel Jarre, Brian Eno, Pixies and Orbital in its first two years, as well as science experiments, talks and immersive artwork, we’re anticipating big things from bluedot 2018.
Welcome to a festival like no other, in the most stunning festival setting in the world. The picturesque Italiante village of Portmeirion is Festival No.6’s home, and was the original inspiration behind its desire to create a completely new type of festival. 2018’s line-up already features Franz Ferdinand, Friendly Fires, Everything Everything, Anna Calvi and Django Django – with plenty more still to be announced.
Formerly Ramsbottom Festival, the award-winning Head for the Hills returns for its eighth outing this September, with a musical line-up including The Bluetones, The Futureheads’ Barry Hyde, The Lovely Eggs, Stealing Sheep and plenty more – as well as exciting arts, theatre and activities programmes.
Co-founded by Cerys Matthews, The Good Life Experience returns for its fifth outing, in the shadows of two castles on the Hawarden Estate in Flintshire. The festival features music from the likes of Gwenno, Bill Ryder-Jones and Norman Jay, as well as campfire cooking, spoken word, a 1930s fairground and dozens of activities for all ages.
Swedish singer and guitarist José González partners up with artist collective and string ensemble The String Theory for a 17-date European tour. Catch the pairing live at Albert Hall in September – one of only four UK dates.
Minute Taker creates haunting piano songs with multilayered ethereal vocals, distorted electronic beats and otherworldly synthscapes.
Combining wild showmanship and musical dexterity, Tankus the Henge, incorporate the sounds of rock, funk, blues, ska, roots and gypsy rhythms.
Boasting the status of ‘the oldest active African orchestra’, Benin’s Orchestre Poly-Rythmo continue to record and tour some five decades after its inception. Catch the group – featuring three original members – live this summer.
F W Murnau’s 1927 romantic drama Sunrise marked both the pinnacle and end of silent film, as it was one of the first films to feature a synchronised musical score and sound effects soundtrack. For this screening, however, award-winning French organist and composer Thierry Escaich will provide the audio accompaniment.
An ensemble of soloists, choir, two pianos and harmonium will perform Petite Messe Solennelle, one of Rossini’s final pieces, under the baton of Andrew Greenwood. The RNCM ensemble will be joined by Jonathan and Tom Scott for a programme that also features Gottschalk’s version of The William Tell Overture.
The RNCM celebrates Anthony Gilbert and Adam Gorb, the college’s only two Heads of Composition during its 50-year history, with this two-day event of talks and concerts – including world premieres from both composers.
The RNCM’s Big Band collaborates and performs with legendary jazz improviser Bart van Lier, principal trombonist with the Metropole Orkest, for its major summer concert. As well as work by van Lier, the programme features pieces by Bill Holman, Jerome Kern and Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz.
The RNCM Symphony Orchestra returns to The Bridgewater Hall for its annual end-of-year concert. The programme features Ravel’s timeless drama Daphnis et Chloé, plus Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto and Ambroise Thomas’ 1866-penned Mignon Overture, all under the baton of French conductor and violinist Yan Pascal Tortelier.
Jazz vocalist Norma Winstone visits the RNCM as part of Manchester Jazz Festival this July. To mark the recent release of Descansado – Songs For Films, she will perform personal interpretations of soundtrack music by the likes of Michel Legrand and Ennio Morricone, backed by her trio’s pianist and reed player.
The revolutionary fervour of the May ’68 Paris uprising, the seismic impact of the Dutch Golden Age on western art history, and notions of ‘the monstrous’ in 21st century life are just some of the themes explored within this month’s hand-picked selection of must-see exhibitions from across the north.