If you’re from the area, it’s likely that you’ll have heard of Leeds Grand Theatre and perhaps will even have been yourself. Not many people know about the Howard Assembly Room however, tucked away on the first floor of the theatre.
The Howard Assembly Room is a lovely venue for a smaller audience (300 capacity). It has amazing acoustics and apparently hosts films and talks, as well as Opera North’s programme of concerts.
I’d never been until last year, when my friend Emily invited me to a concert there. We went to see Welsh harpist Catrin Finch and Senegalese Seckou Keita who plays the kora (a South African lute that sounds like a harp). It was one of the most amazing concerts I’ve ever been to. I can’t remember the last time I saw performers look so happy to be playing! Truly beautiful and moving music.
Video from WOMEX 2013
Last night, I was back at the Howard Assembly Room, this time with my mum and James to listen to legendary jazz musician Courtney Pine play pieces from his new album – Song (The Ballad Book) – with award winning pianist, Zoe Rahman. Although I’d heard of Courtney Pine for his wizardry on the saxophone, last night he performed on the bass clarinet which is a rather beautiful beast of an instrument. It was amazing to hear the sounds he could produce on it. Zoe’s piano playing was utterly gorgeous as well. I’d not heard her play before but am now definitely a fan.
BBC Radio 3: In Tune Session video
There are loads of interesting concerts coming up soon at this lovely venue. Visit the Opera North website to see if there’s anything you fancy. There are plenty of restaurants and bars nearby as well if you want to make a night of it. (We went to Zaap Thai for a meal beforehand which was very tasty. It’s at the bottom of the Grand Arcade, so really close to the theatre.)
Leave me a comment if you’re going to see something at the Howard Assembly Room or if there’s anything on there that you recommend!