Get set for new opera Calderland

Calderland rehearsals in Hebden Bridge
Calderland rehearsals in Hebden Bridge

a new folk opera titled Calderland will premiere in the piazza of the recently restored Grade I listed Piece Hall in Halifax.

Inspired by the people and landscape of Calderdale and performed by a community choir and band of musicians, Calderland will be staged over three consecutive evenings from September 29 to October 1.

Written by the award-winning playwright Mike Kenny (The Railway Children, Blood and Chocolate) and with a score from Richard Taylor, former composer-in-residence at West Yorkshire Playhouse and twice a UK Theatre Award winner, the hour-long piece will explore how the community has responded to adversity in ways that are heroic, human, personal and complex.

Calderland will be performed by a community choir of more than 150 local singers, recruited at workshops across the valleys and including four choirs from nearby primary schools - St Chad’s Primary, Brighouse; Bradshaw Primary, Halifax; Old Town Primary, Luddenden; and All Saints CE, Halifax.

A core band of local musicians will perform Richard’s new score.

Alan Dix, who heads up the creative team, said: “Calderland is more than an opera.

“It is a shared musical journey created with local people who will tell the tale of the places and the valley they live in.

“Calderland is a poetic, emotional and powerful exploration of those things that make the Calder Valley so very special.

“The making of this production – a people’s opera – has shown how extraordinary the valley is and, despite the floods of Boxing Day 2015, how much it is loved. Calderland is a homage to a very special place and the amazing people who live there.”

Calderland will be will staged in the Piece Hall courtyard, with a digital backdrop specially created by artists Fabric Lenny and Shanaz Gulzar. The work is the centrepiece of Landlines & Watermarks, a major creative programme taking place throughout Calderdale during the summer and autumn of 2017.

The show was commissioned by Calderdale Council and the Community Foundation for Calderdale from leading Yorkshire-based company 509 Arts and was supported by Arts Council England in response to the area’s recovery from the Boxing Day floods of 2015.

The programme of works created for Landlines & Watermarks commends the spirit and soul of the Calder Valley and the resilience of the market towns that were affected.

Tickets for Calderland, which are free, are available online from The Piece Hall website www.thepiecehall.co.uk or from the Piece hall box office.