Posted On: 18 Aug 2017
30,000 people are anticipated to experience Welcome, a free festival that launches the first in a series of cultural seasons, to mark the spectacular reopening of The Piece Hall, Halifax.
Spread across three weekends, this programme of international events will welcome the world back to the UK’s only surviving cloth hall which reopens this August. The opening and closing events are the first to be announced and further programme details will follow in the coming weeks.
Welcome will run from the 18 August to 2 September 2017, attracting local people and visitors from across the North of England. The magnificent central courtyard of the iconic Georgian cloth hall will become a creative arena like no other, a stunning backdrop to an awe-inspiring programme of cultural activities for all to enjoy.
The first event, on Friday 18 August, will be Andy Sheppard’s epic Saxophone Massive. The internationally celebrated UK saxophonist and composer will perform an original composition along with a huge number of sax players recruited from across the town and region. A feast for the eyes and ears, onlookers will be treated to an extraordinary performance as music reverberates amongst the Georgian galleries in a spectacular musical fanfare.
Andy Sheppard is one of Europe’s leading saxophonists and one of very few British musicians who have made a significant impact on the international jazz scene. Saxophone Massive will arrive at The Piece Hall after becoming an international phenomenon performed in cities across the UK, France and Norway to much acclaim.
This is a unique opportunity for the public to be part of the building’s opening chapter, as saxophonists of all ages and abilities - professionals, amateurs, teachers and beginners - are asked to join the big band. Those keen to find out how to get involved should contact Jo Fullman at The Piece Hall on 01422 525219 or visit thepiecehall.co.uk/saxophone-massive.
Says Andy Sheppard:
“It is an immense honour to be bringing my Saxophone Massive to Halifax and to be the first major event to take place in the new Piece Hall. Music unites communities and by reaching out to and including local musicians to be part of the massive, amateur and professional alike, we will present an event that showcases the best regional talent to an audience celebrating The Piece Hall, one of the most stunning buildings in Yorkshire.”
Renowned French company Transe Express will perform in awe-inspiring style as their dazzling aerial show Enchanted Chandelier brings to a close the launch programme, on the evening of Friday 1 & Saturday 2 September.
A circus of the sky, bell-ringing musicians and trapeze artists weave their way amongst the crowd before being suspended at the heart of a giant structure that reaches to the heavens, 50m (165ft) above the audience watching from below. The bells and music will ring out across Halifax as the structure rises, coming to life above The Piece Hall’s dramatic colonnades and reaching into the night sky.
This international award-winning show - featuring a baroque carnival, high-altitude hi-jinks and dazzling airborne architecture - was originally created by Gilles Rhode. It has since performed all over the world across several continents, including at Singapore Arts Festival, Melbourne International Festival and the Quebec 400 anniversary. The performance in Halifax will capture a dreamlike and breathtaking spectacle, showcasing The Piece Hall in a mesmerising new light.
Says Hélène Marseille, one of the artistic directors and performer from Transe Express:
“We are thrilled to be coming to Halifax for the first time on this fantastic occasion, the opening of The Piece Hall, a beautiful and distinctive space – ideal to show our Enchanted Chandelier. Our show is a celebration so perfectly suited to the occasion and we look forward to the people of Halifax and beyond revelling with us this September.”
SETTING THE BAR
Molly Rigg, Head of Events for The Piece Hall Trust commented: “We are immensely lucky to have a truly unique location in The Piece Hall and we are thrilled that the events marking the opening will showcase just how stunning a space it is, setting the bar high for the kinds of performances audiences across the North of England can expect to see here.
We’re following in the footsteps of an amazing tradition of events that took place in The Piece Hall as far back as the Victorian era. From hot air balloon launches, to a tightrope walk from the world-renowned Blondin, we have taken inspiration from these historic spectacles and look forward to making our mark on the future as we welcome new audiences into this special place.”
Further Welcome events and activities will be announced in the coming weeks. All tickets are free, but with limited availability - and will be released later in the summer. Visitors are advised to register for notifications by creating an account online.