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Who owns Manchester?

Musically speaking, that is.

Since 1858, the answer has been the Halle.

It’s the second-oldest orch in England (after Liverpool, though as in football the title is disputed) and it forged the closest contacts with the makers of English music, Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Walton and the so-called Manchester School of Brtwistle, Maxwell Davies and Goehr.

But the ownership is now under threat.

The BBC Phil, based in Manchester, is planning a Manc First season. It opens with Anthony Burgess, the finest Mancunian writer never to win a Nobel, followed by Elgar and much else. The Halle needs to adjust its socks. Fast. Or buy a new umbrella.

Press release below.

The Canal, Manchester, Lancashire, 1925



BBC Philharmonic explores Manchester’s remarkable musical heritage : Artist in Residence Stephen Hough


Saturday 28 September 2013 at 7.30pm at The Bridgewater Hall


Anthony Burgess, A Manchester Overture

Brahms, Piano Concerto No. 1 (Stephen Hough)

Elgar, Symphony No. 1


Conductor: Juanjo Mena


The BBC Philharmonic will celebrate Manchester’s rich musical life in its coming season which is called The Mancunian Way and which opens on 28 September at The Bridgewater Hall. All concerts will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3.


Juanjo Mena, Chief Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic will launch the tributes to the composers and musicians who have contributed to the city’s reputation as a powerhouse of musical creativity. The acclaimed pianist Stephen Hough heads the season as Artist in Residence.


Stephen, who studied at both Chetham’s School of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) opens the series with Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 on 28 September, with concerti later in the season by Liszt and Schumann. He says: “It is wonderful to be in residence in a city where I was once a resident and where I learned most of my most valuable musical lessons … It always feels like coming home.”


The concert opens with the seldom-performed work A Manchester Overture by one of the city’s most famous sons Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange. Mena completes the programme with Elgar’s First Symphony, which received its premiere in Manchester in 1908 and ushered in a new dawn for British music.


Other concerts in The Mancunian Way (named after a major road in the city) set composers with close links to the city like William Walton, Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies alongside rising stars of today. There are two world premieres by Emily Howard and Gary Carpenter as well as several of the critically acclaimed new works which were commissioned by BBC Radio 3 as part of the BBC Philharmonic and Halle’s award winning Mahler in Manchester festival in 2010. Thomas Ades’ These Premises are Alarmed will remind audiences of the startlingly brilliant piece he wrote to mark the opening of The Bridgewater Hall in 1996.


Richard Wigley, General Manager of the BBC Philharmonic comments: “The BBC Philharmonic is incredibly proud of the city and all that it has achieved, and it is an honour to celebrate that with our audiences in the Bridgewater Hall and with the millions of listeners who tune in to BBC Radio 3.”

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  1. Never knew Burgess wrote music as well. Maybe at one of these concerts they could have Sir Alex narrating a piece of music, Scottish accent and all.

  2. Barbara Wall says:

    It has been proven that the RLPO IS the oldest U.K orchestra.

  3. Anthony Burgess wrote a considerable amount of music. As a novelist few regard him as top set, but his books bubble with energy and you get the impression that like Lawrence Durrell he was a fun and irrepressible individual. I look forward to hearing this.

  4. I believe the Salford Philharmonic (formerly BBC Phil) moved out of Manchester recently..

  5. Glad to see our Northern city mentioned, together with it’s credentials. A former employer of mine, made it clear she thought there was no culture in the city. Fortunately she left her job before I did. A climber, with pretentions.

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