Our music guide boasts diversity and variety galore right now – from a rising country star Courtney Marie Andrews at Gorilla to WRONG Festival, a celebration of the current freakscene, at Liverpool’s Invisible Wind Factory, via that mainstay of the independent music calendar, Sounds From The Other City, and three-month-long concert series New North and South, which celebrates shared heritage between the North of England and South Asia. 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
A three-year programme of co-commissions, exhibitions and intellectual exchange to celebrate shared heritage between the North of England and South Asia, New North and South features 15 events over three months in its 2018 music strand. Highlights over the coming months include new audio-visual commission Electronic Empires (Band on the Wall, 22 March, from £8) and two concert of music for the mind and soul in the Bridgewater Hall’s Barbirolli Room – with the first featuring violinist Shreya Devnath (25 March, from £12) and the second featuring flautist J A Jayanth (29 April, from £12).
German trumpeter and composer Markus Stockhausen brings the knowledge and experience gained during his a prolific three-decade career to the RNCM, as he works with students to encourage their improvisational skills before joining the Big Band and Chamber Orchestra for this programme of his compositions.
This unusual event combines the talents of poets and musicians in the appealing surrounds of The Whitworth. March highlights include the RNCM’s Septentrion Harp Duo, performing alongside London-based poet Anthony Rudolf and playwright, poet and performer Hannah Silva. What’s more, its completely free.
Emma Sweeney, a rising star of traditional Irish music, leads Band on the Wall’s first relaxed performance. Also featuring cello, guitar and percussion, the show will offer a fun, inclusive and interactive experience that is open to everyone.
Introduced and presented by Nina Bernstein Simmons, youngest daughter of Leonard Bernstein, this event features a recital of the 27 piano miniatures that make up the American’s ‘Anniversaries’, followed by a rare screening of the 2005 film A Total Embrace – itself a tribute to the late composer.
Grammy-nominated punk cabaret trio The Tiger Lillies perform their original music to tell this tale of a Corrido singer and his band, who return from the dead to haunt their killer.
Combining the expertise of contemporary classical ensemble Psappha and jazz guitarist and composer Mike Walker, this concert explores the connections between jazz, rock and classical – and also offers the world premiere of Autonomy, their collaborative piece that is a year in the making.
East London producer, pianist and occasional rapper Alfa Mist returns to Manchester following his previous sold out visit. With a nod to soul and world music, as well as grime and hip-hop, he is very much one to watch in the current new jazz scene.
Spending years on the road has honed Arizona-born Courtney Marie Andrews’ heartfelt country sound – drawing plaudits from Ryan Adams and comparisons with Joni Mitchell along the way. With new record May Your Kindness Remain promising to be one of the albums of the year, now is the time to discover her.
Touring Damned Devotion, her first solo album since 2014, Brooklyn singer and multi-instrumentalist Joan As Police Woman visits The Stoller Hall this April. Joan has collaborated with the likes of Rufus Wainwright, Antony and the Johnsons and Scissor Sisters over the years, as well as releasing half a dozen albums under her own stage name.
WRONG Festival makes its second outing in Liverpool’s Docklands this April. This celebration of the current rock freakscene features 30 bands – including Future of the Left, Gnod, Mugstar and Damo Suzuki – performing across the Invisible Wind Factory, the North Shore Troubadour and Drop the Dumbulls.
SFTOC is a true highlight of the Manchester music calendar, as it goes strength to strength in celebrating new music and performances – as well as some of Salford’s lesser-spotted venues. Early bird tickets have already gone – and the event is almost always a completely sell out – so book early. Acts already announced for 2018 include DUDS, Anna Burch, Barbarossa, Pearl City, Spectrum and Have You Ever Seen the Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS?
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, Frightened Rabbit, 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.
The Stoller Hall 2018 season, 12 January–16 April 2018, from £6 - Book now
In only its first year, The Stoller Hall at Chetham’s is already making a name for itself as the bright new concert hall on the block. A highlight of its 2018 season is a tribute to Leonard Bernstein this April, hosted by his daughter and featuring both performances and a screening.
Millions of listeners enjoy BBC Philharmonic concerts on Radio 3, recorded or broadcast live from the outstanding acoustic of The Bridgewater Hall, making this orchestra one of the most widely heard in the country.
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.
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.
Remake Remodel host a Wes Anderson themed party this Easter Thursday. Think Tenenbaum fancy dress, refined pop music and Mendl’s cakes.
Featuring an Arabian adventure, Norwegian jazz courtesy of Marius Neset, 1920s Surrealist short films (and accompanying live scores), plus the RNCM Opera’s major production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel and a collaboration between German trumpeter and composer Markus Stockhausen and the RNCM Big Band and Chamber Orchestra, this new season offers plenty to discerning music fans.
The RNCM Opera tackles Engelbert Humperdinck’s operatic version of the Brothers Grimm’s early 19th Century fairytale Hansel and Gretel for its major spring production. Expect a tale of transition, redemption and resolution, set to folk music-inspired themes, for a piece that is equal parts dark and magical.
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,one-hour opera, La vida breve.
The poignant but little-heard symphonic ballad The Voyevoda from the pen of Tchaikovsky opens the programme and guest Alban Gerhardt performs Shostakovich’s Second Cello Concerto
Famed for working double duty as an acclaimed soloist and principal horn of the Berlin Philharmonic, the peerless Stefan Dohr performs the UK premiere of a work written especially for him: Wolfgang Rihm’s Horn Concerto
Three years after the BBC Philharmonic’s world premiere of The Immortal drew rapturous acclaim from critics and audiences, Mark Simpson, the orchestra’s Composer in Association, presents his Cello Concerto performed by Leonard Elschenbroich
Tasmin Little performs Karol Szymanowski’s First Violin Concerto. Piercing, passionate, fiery and free, it’s arguably the first modern violin concerto, and makes tremendous demands on any soloist who chooses to take it on.
John Wilson is our translator for two journeys into the great wide open: Copland’s Appalachian Spring paints a vivid portrait of rural Pennsylvania, while Vaughan Williams’s wartime Fifth Symphony sings of a troubled England