Guerilla Opera in Huddersfield – Well done!

So, today (23rd July 2011) saw the first performance of Huddersfield Youth Opera‘s production of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Mozart & Salieri” as part of Huddersfield Creative Arts Network‘s Art in Memorable Spaces initiative.

Scene 1 took place outside the impressive George Hotel

The small company did well to overcome the challenges of the outdoor conditions, not least the considerable gusts of wind.

For scene two, set in an inn, the cast and crew decamped appropriately to the opposite corner of the Square, outside the Head of Steam pub, where proceedings were enlivened by some audience participation courtesy of a Stag Party, who insisted on being photographed before the scene began

Stag Party Outside the Head of Steam, Huddersfield; 23rd July 2011

The Stag Party departed half way through the scene to catch a train, meaning the second half took place against a slightly quieter background.

The performance is repeated next Saturday, 30th July, at 2:30pm. It’s an opportunity to see some opera for free in an interesting setting, and not to be missed.

Guerilla Opera in St. George’s Square, Huddersfield

Graffiti Jacket

Tomorrow (Saturday July 23rd 2011) sees the first of two open air performances of a “Guerilla Opera” in the centre of Huddersfield. In partnership with the Huddersfield Creative Arts Network, Huddersfield Youth Opera will be performing Rimsky Korsakov’s “Mozart & Salieri” in St. George’s Square on successive Saturdays. In a first for the opera group, their small troupe will take to the flagstones outside Britain’s most attractive railway station at 2:30pm on both days.

I caught up with the Youth Opera’s General Director, David Heathcote, Director of the production, Janet Cowley, and cast members, David Fearn, who plays Mozart and Jamal Rahman who plays Salieri, to find out what it’s all about and why they are doing it.

I think this is a fantastic initiative, and applaud the group for making productive use of the expensively refurbished square which stands unused for most of the year, in between a few high profile, and well-attended, formal events. Perhaps even some casual passers-by will pay attention to the production and decide that opera is something they want to find out more about.

Here is a snippet of David and Jamal in rehearsal for the production.

Some of the costumes which will be on display on the two Saturdays are quite spectacular and a credit to the work of Huddersfield University students including Natalie Lawson and Emily Hargreaves

Emily Hargreaves and Natalie Lawson show off one of the costumesI very much hope that this initiative will lead to more regular use of the space that is St. George’s Square. The people of Huddersfield need to feel that it is their arena for them to make use of.

Day One of (unofficial) Yorkshire Social Media Week

Huddersfield Social Media Surgery - 1st Feb 10

Huddersfield Social Media Surgery - 1st Feb 10

First of three social media surgeries on consecutive days in Yorkshire took place in Huddersfield last night. It was the second such event in the town, and the organisers were rewarded with a very good turn out. In fact, when I arrived at the Media Centre, a few minutes after the planned start time of 4:30pm, there was a queue of people waiting to see surgeons.

Huddersfield Social Media Surgery - 1st Feb 10

It was another excellent night, lots of positive feedback, lots of happy surgeons, and the added bonus from my point of view was that it was walking distance from my house.

Congratulations to Steven Tuck, Diane Sims, and Mari Browne who have been instrumental in getting the local Surgeries off the ground. I am sure that their hard work will result in these events being a permanent part of the scene for a long while to come.

The next Huddersfield Social Media Surgery will be on Monday 15th March.

Surgeons De-brief after Social Media Surgery

Surgeons De-brief after Social Media Surgery

Now it’s on to Leeds for day two of Social Media Surgery week.

An Exciting Week for Social Media in Yorkshire

Central Birmingham Social Media Surgery -1st Anniversary

At the end of my presentation at last year’s National Digital Inclusion Conference I said that we were aiming to make Yorkshire & the Humber the “Social Media Region”. I think quite a few in the audience realised that I hadn’t really thought through the path to this objective at the time. However, I think we may now be well on the road, as this week sees Social Media Surgeries in three of our major conurbations on consecutive nights.

Huddersfield Social Media Surgery is on Monday 1st February, Leeds SMS on Tuesday 2nd, and Sheffield on Wednesday 3rd. With the second York SMS imminent, and plans in train for surgeries in Hull, Grimsby, Barnsley and Hebden Bridge, the idea spawned in Birmingham by the amazing Nick Booth and Pete Ashton is taking root around Yorkshire & the Humber.

It promises to be an exhausting week for those of use involved in all three of this week’s Surgeries, but the cumulative satisfied glow that always follows a successful event will make it all well worthwhile.

Huddersfield Festival of Light 2009

I love Steven Tuck’s take on the Huddersfield Festival of Light, this year’s version of which took place last Friday evening, December 4th.

In the past, I have found the annual festival events to be a mixture of the wierd and the sublime. This year’s happening, delivered by the French company Transe Expresse, was a mixture of both, tending more towards the sublime end of the spectrum.

A big crowd turned out in the centre of Huddersfield, and most people seemed to have a great time. Here’s to more next year.

Here are my videos of the event:

If you don’t have time to watch them all, then I recommend the last one, below, the most unusual version of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” you’ll see!

The Social Media Train?


This is a fanciful idea at the moment, but it may come to fruition.

The idea is this. To coincide (roughly) with the opening of the new station bar at Sheffield station (after a 40-year break without one) in December, we run a Social Media Train on the Penistone Line between Sheffield and Huddersfield.

The Penistone line is a beautiful scenic railway, which wends through Pennine countryside. But, I hate it, for three reasons:

1. It takes an hour and 20 minutes for a journey which, by road, is 26 miles and can be driven, at off-peak times in 40 minutes

2. It is populated by some of the oldest, dirtiest, most uncomfortable, rolling stock on the UK rail system; and

3. Although it runs through beautiful countryside – after dark, this benefit is lost completely, and, as much of the journey is through areas with no lighting, you can sit there for ages not being able to see anything outside the train. The experience of sitting on a dirty, rattling train, hurtling through total darkness, is what has led me to call it the Ghost Train.


The Penistone Line Partnership does a great job of making life a little better for the people who use the line, running music and beer trains on a regular basis. My idea (which is not really my idea, but taken from an original concept of @timdifford ) is that we run either a Social Media Surgery, or, perhaps a Social Media Cafe on the train one evening in December.

My concept was that we do this on the 18:36 from Sheffield; returning on the 20:13 from Huddersfield, and finishing up in the new Sheffield station bar.

Brockholes Station

What do YOU think?