Thursday, 28 May 2009

Magic of Covent Garden coming to Leeds

Caption: Composite image of all three performances

Caption: Crowds on Millennium Square enjoying last year's performances

The magic of ballet and opera is coming to Leeds city centre this summer as three famous productions are to be shown live on the BBC big screen on Millennium Square.

Starting with The Royal Ballet’s Ondine which will be shown on Wednesday 3rd June from 7:30pm, the productions are being beamed exclusively live from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden to 20 locations around the country.

This will be followed by operas La Traviata and The Barber of Seville which will be shown on Tuesday 30th June at 7pm and Wednesday 15th July at 7:30pm respectively.

The free events supported by Leeds City Council are part of the annual BP Summer Big Screens Programme which aims to bring live performances of opera and ballet to people of all ages all over the country.

The performances will be screened within a controlled area on Millennium Square with admission on a first-come, first-served basis from one hour before the starting times. New for this year is a covered grandstand which can cater for 140 people but those attending are still encouraged to take their own collapsible furniture. Picnic-style food and drink is permitted although there will also be a small refreshment service and toilet facilities available. Anyone aged 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter said:

“We are delighted to again be showing these live productions on the big screen in Millennium Square.
”Being able to relax in front of the big screen and watch these fantastic shows in the open air for free is the perfect way to enjoy these events whether you are a dedicated opera and ballet lover or keen to watch for the first time.”

Ondine is the tragic romantic tale of a young water sprite and the mortal with whom she falls in love. The production features scenes beneath the sea, in a Gothic castle and aboard a storm-tossed ship as the sea spirits are brought to life.

La Traviata is another well-known classic love story, following Violetta and Alfredo, whose romance is undone by his unyielding father Giorgio who is determined to protect his family’s reputation.

The final performance is arguably the most famous Italian opera of all – The Barber of Seville. Rossini’s comedy masterpiece features a classic score, a resourceful heroine and Figaro, the town barber extraordinaire.

For further information about these screenings, contact the council’s Events Team on 0113- 395 0891 on weekdays from 9-5pm.

The screenings form part of the Summer of Fun in Leeds, with details of all the council-managed free or low-cost events and activities going on around the city able to be accessed through the new web portal at

Notes to Editors
In the interests of public safety, the following conditions will apply in Millennium Square:
• Event stewards will be entitled to search people and//or their possessions on entry to the event enclosure. Staff will not take responsibility for any prohibited items.
• Prohibited items include, but are not restricted to, large parasols, gazebos, awnings and portable barbecues.
• The organisers reserve the right to refuse admission to the event enclosure.

For further information about the Royal Opera House contact Simon Magill on 020- 7212 9762 or email

For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Learning and Leisure Media Relations Officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email:

Leeds Youth Jazz Rock Orchestra donate instruments to Durban centre

Caption: Pictured is Eric Apelgren, Ethekwini municipality's (Durban) head of international relations (right) with staff and young people from the Ekhaya Centre who will benefit from the donated instruments.

Six trumpets and six trombones have been donated to a centre in Durban, South Africa, by the Leeds Youth Jazz Rock Orchestra.

The orchestra is run by Artforms - Education Leeds’ music and arts service - which raised over £8,000 to pay for the instruments after visiting the Ekhaya Centre in the Ethekwini municipality of Durban in 2007 and discovering it had just a drum kit and piano.

On returning to Leeds, the children and young people performed at gigs, parties and functions to raise money to purchase the instruments and send them out to South Africa.

The link between the jazz rock orchestra and the Ekhaya Centre is the result of the partnership between Leeds and Durban which has been developed by Leeds City Council’s international relations team.

The instruments recently arrived at the South African centre and are already being used by local children and young people.

Councillor Richard Harker, executive board member for education at Leeds City Council, said:
“This was a very kind gesture by the Leeds Youth Jazz Rock Orchestra. It will help young musicians in the Ethekwini municipality learn to play new instruments which they would not have had the chance to do otherwise.

“The orchestra worked very hard and raised a huge amount of money to make this happen. I wish them the very best to raise even more funds to send out further instruments as soon as possible.”

Chris Edwards chief executive of Education Leeds, said:
“Not only are the children and young people in the Leeds Youth Jazz Rock Orchestra fantastically talented musicians they are also extremely generous towards those less fortunate than themselves.

“Their incredible gift means the Ekhaya Centre can now offer a range of instruments for local people to play which will take the passion, enthusiasm and energy of jazz to Ethekwini and help their young people release the magic and develop their own musical talents.”

The band proposes to revisit Durban in 2010 and hope their fundraising efforts will pay for the trip and allow them to donate a number of saxophones to the centre.


For media enquiries please contact:
Jon Crampton, Leeds City Council press office, 0113 3951577