It’s been at the heart of music in Leeds for more than 160 years.
But on March 20, Leeds Town Hall’s stunning organ fell silent as the building closed its doors to the public to help contain the spread of coronavirus.
Now the beautiful Victoria Hall will once again be filled with the incredible instrument’s unmistakable sound during a special live-streamed online recital to mark Yorkshire Day this weekend.
Leeds City Organist, Darius Battiwalla, will proudly take to the stage this Saturday at 12pm for the virtual performance, which will see him playing a series of iconic pieces of classical music written by composers who have a direct link to Yorkshire.
Broadcast by Chapel FM and on social media, the concert will be the very first live performance at the Town Hall since lockdown and will include music from William Herschel, Johann Strauss, Alfred Hollins and Eric Bairstow.
Darius said: “The organ has played such an important part in the story of music in Leeds and everyone at the Town Hall has a genuine affinity and affection for its sound resonating through the building as it entertains and delights our wonderful audiences.
“It’s been difficult not being able to be play for people these past few months and, whilst we won’t be welcoming them in person, it will be an emotional experience connecting with them in a completely new way on such a fitting occasion as Yorkshire Day.”
Played at the opening ceremony of Leeds Town Hall, which was attended by Queen Victoria in 1858, the organ’s case was designed by noted architect Cuthbert Brodrick and made by Leeds firm Thorpe and Atkinson.
One of the largest of its kind in Europe, the towering organ stands an impressive 50 feet high, is 47 feet wide and weighs almost 70 tons.
Looking back at some favourite musical memories from people involved with Leeds Town Hall through the years, this weekend’s Yorkshire Day broadcast on East Leeds FM/ Chapel FM will also include an interview with composer Philip Wilby.
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Leeds Town Hall is more than just a building, it’s a symbol of our city, its culture and its heritage so there’s no better occasion for live music return to this unique venue than Yorkshire Day.
“Culture and the arts play an integral role in making Leeds so special and our arts community as a whole has shown remarkable resilience and imagination over the past few months in the face of incredible pressure and uncertainty.
“I hope this performance can act as rallying cry for everyone in Leeds to continue to show their support and passion for our arts organisations large and small.”
To watch the Yorkshire Day organ recital live, visit Leeds Town Hall on social media or https://www.leedstownhall.co.uk/