Red Hot Chilli Pipers to play Harrogate Royal Hall in May 2022, two years late

Piping hot…but not until 2022 at Harrogate Royal Hall after Red Hot Chilli Pipers rearranged the gig for a second time since the pandemic started to rule diary appointments

BAGROCK pioneers Red Hot Hot Chilli Pipers will pipe up at Harrogate Royal Hall on May 13 2022, more than two years after the Scots were first scheduled to play there.

The pernicious pandemic’s relentless stranglehold has seen the date moved twice, first from April 24 in Lockdown 1.0 this year to April 10 2021 and now to next spring.

Such an impact that the rearranged 14-gig itinerary will form the Chilli Pipers’ 20th anniversary tour, set for April 28 to June 5 2022. Harrogate Royal Hall will be the only Yorkshire concert, with tickets on sale at harrogatetheatre.co.uk or thegigcartel.com/Artists-profiles/Red-Hot-Chilli-Pipers.htm.

Formed in 2002, the Chilli Pipers popped up for a cameo in The Darkness’s set at the 2004 T in the Park, going on to headline the Scottish festival a decade later.

Now “the most famous bagpipe band on the planet…ever”, they present “bagpipes with attitude, drums with a Scottish accent and a show that should carry its own health warning”.

In the Red Hot Chilli Pipers’ tool kit is a groundbreaking fusion of traditional Scottish music and rock and pop anthems that they proudly call “Bagrock”, engineered by world championship-winning musicians, dancers and singers. 

In February 2019, the Chilli Pipers and Glasgow-born singer-songwriter Tom Walker released a piping-hot version  of his debut hit Leave A Light On in aid of Nordoff Robins, the music therapy charity. Their fundraising collaboration came after Walker and the Chilli Pipers performed together at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, before a Scotland versus Italy Six Nations rugby match.

The Chilli Pipers last released a studio album in June 2019, when Fresh Air combined new songs and covers, ranging from Walker’s Leave The Light On to Leonard Cohen´s Hallalujah and Walk The Moon’s Shut Up And Dance, both with Chris Judge on vocals.

Among their career highlights have been winning the BBC talent show When Will I Be Famous; playing at the BBC Proms in Hyde Park, NBC Olympics Studio and Rugby World Cup, and recording their 2014 live DVD and CD, Live At The Lake,  at Milwaukee Irish Fest, the band’s American spiritual home by the shores of Lake Michigan.

The poster for Red Hot Chilli Pipers’ 20th Anniversary Tour in 2022, stating tickets will remain valid from the postponed Spring 2021 shows

Harrogate Theatre to stay shut till 2021, so no panto, redundancy talks and what next?

Not so Happy Harry: Tim Stedman, pictured in the 2019-2020 pantomime Snow White, will not be taking to the Harrogate Theatre stage this winter in his 21st silly-billy role

HARROGATE Theatre will remain closed until 2021. No pantomime this Christmas and no safety net for up to 60 per cent of permanent staff, facing redundancy after an upcoming consultation period.

This hammer blow/”sensible action” comes despite Harrogate Theatre receiving £395,000 last month from the Arts Council England Emergency Fund, on top of Harrogate Borough Council funding, to cover losses incurred from March through to September.

And there’s the rub. Only until September, point out chief executive David Bown and chair of the board Deborah Larwood in this afternoon’s joint statement, despite being “extremely grateful” for the financial aid so far.

“Whilst we welcome the Government’s new Cultural Recovery Fund [£1.57 billion across Britain in grants and loans promised by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden and Chancellor Rishi Sunak on July 5], we still require clarity as to what specifically we can access from the fund, having already been in receipt of Emergency Funding, and there is no certainty of success.”

The emergency press release carried an upbeat headline – “Our Safety Curtain is down for now, but we are still lighting the way for culture in Harrogate” – but behind that curtain, the unbroken reign of Coronavirus continues to stop play.

“Today we are announcing that the Safety Curtain will remain down at Harrogate Theatre until 2021,” the statement forewarns. “This has been an extremely difficult and very sad decision to make, but we feel it is the most sensible action under the current circumstances; not only to protect the safety of our audiences, volunteers and staff but to safeguard the future of Harrogate Theatre.”

In the wake of the Government postponing the re-opening of indoor performance spaces by a fortnight until August 15 at the earliest, and the even Grimmer Reaper blow of the Culture Secretary now saying that any possibility of a Government thumbs-up to theatres being allowed to return to full capacity will not be forthcoming until November…at the earliest, Bown and Larwood have declared their hand.

The still necessary curse of social distancing leaves them as glum as Cassandra. “Our business model relies on at least half of our auditorium being occupied to break even,” they say. “To produce our much-loved pantomime, we need to sell close to 90 per cent of our seats over two months of shows. With social distancing in place across this beautiful Victorian building, we can only fill 20 per cent of the auditorium. This is not financially viable.”

The heavy cloud of a possible second, wintry wave of Covid-19 hangs heavy over Harrogate Theatre, as indeed it does over all indoor theatre, serving as a killjoy to any planning. “Neither can we take the financial risk of paying for and then cancelling shows if the theatre is bouncing in and out of closure, due to possible quarantines or lockdowns,” warn Bown and Larwood. “Therefore, we are suspending or moving all planned activity for this year at Harrogate Theatre into 2021.

“As a direct result of the pandemic, and the dramatic loss of income associated with it, we have no other choice than to scale back the organisation and reduce our overheads in order to survive.”

What does that mean for the staff? “This means that we have been forced to make the incredibly hard decision to enter a period of redundancy consultation with our staff. At the end of this period, we may have to make up to 60 per cent of permanent roles redundant,” say Bown and Larwood.

“To make it through to next year, we will still need to continue our emergency fundraising campaign. Our audiences and the wider community have been incredibly supportive during these extraordinary times [raising more than £100,00 so far]. From the kindness of donations to the publicly led fundraisers, we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and generosity shown towards the theatre.

“We accept our responsibility in this special town and must continue doing all we can to secure the future of the theatre. Thank you all for your help and commitment so far.”

Bown and Larwood are not down and out, however, and are looking to bounce back in 2021. “The majority of shows in our autumn season are moving to next year and Cinderella will be dancing at the ball in 2021. If you have tickets for a show during this time, we will contact you to let you know the rescheduled dates of performances.

“As you can imagine, this is a huge task for our small team, so please bear with us and where we haven’t been able to find a new date for you, please consider donating your tickets to the theatre.”

Harrogate Theatre is usually run in tandem with Harrogate Royal Hall and the Harrogate Convention Centre [formerly known as the Harrogate International Centre until a 2017 revamp], but the other two have been commandeered for the Corona war effort as a Nightingale hospital.

“We are working closely with the Harrogate Convention Centre and Royal Hall regarding the use of those venues as a Nightingale Hospital,” say Bown and Larwood. “The action at the theatre does not, as yet, affect these venues. However, we will contact bookers if and when shows are rescheduled or cancelled.

“Harrogate Theatre will also closely monitor what is an ever-changing global situation and will remain flexible to any changes in national policy or guidelines.”

Is there any sign of a silver lining or even autumn fruits? “While the Safety Curtain is down, we remain committed to making and sharing innovative theatre with audiences and participants and in autumn will launch an exciting socially distanced season of special performances and events, both in person and online.”

No details are being released to the media as yet, however. “Our White Rose Members will be the first to find out about these and will also get exclusive access to one-off events,” reveal Bown and Larwood. “Harrogate Youth Theatre and our Associate Artists will continue to be supported throughout the year. Although the doors might be closed, we will endeavour to light the way for the arts in Harrogate alongside our fellow cultural partners.”

To finish on a positive note: “We look forward to the day we raise our Safety Curtain and once again share the magic that live performance in our building brings,” say Bown and Larwood.

“While we understand the impact of this decision, as custodians of our organisation we will do everything in our power to safeguard the company to be able to entertain, educate and inspire for the next 120 years.”

Gilbert and Sullivan Festival confirms 2021 performances at Harrogate Royal Hall

The National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company in the dress rehearsal for The Pirates Of Penzance in July 2018. Picture: Jane Stokes

THIS summer’s 27th International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Harrogate has been scuppered by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the festival organisers have put next summer’s festival line-up in place already.

As is custom, the 2021 festival will run at two locations, the original home of Buxton Opera House from July 31 to August 7 and Harrogate Royal Hall from August 8 to 22.

Taking part will be three professional companies, the National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, Charles Court Opera and Forbear! Theatre, and amateur performers from Abbots Langley G&S Society, Brussels Light Opera, Bus Pass Opera, Peak Opera, Ploverleigh Savoy Players, SavoyNet Performing Group and Trent Opera.    

Harrogate dates for the 2021 diary are:

August 8, The Mikado, National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, 2.30pm; H.M.S. Pinafore, National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, 7.30pm.

August 9, Iolanthe, Peak Opera, 7.30pm.

August 10, The Gondoliers, Trent Opera, 7.30pm.

August 11, Iolanthe, Charles Court Opera, 2.30pm; Ruddigore, Charles Court Opera, 7.30pm.

August 12, The Pirates Of Penzance, Brussels Light Opera, 7.30pm.

August 13, The Yeomen Of The Guard,  Forbear! Theatre, 7.30pm.

August 14, Patience, National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, 2.30pm; The Mikado, National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, 7.30pm.

August 15, The Pirates Of Penzance, National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, 2.30pm; H.M.S. Pinafore, National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, 7.30pm.

August 16, Ruddigore, Abbots Langley G&S Society, 7.30pm.

August 17, The Mikado, Ploverleigh Savoy Players, 7.30pm.

August 18, Patience, National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, 2.30pm; The Pirates Of Penzance, National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, 7.30pm.

August 19, The Grand Duke, SavoyNet Performing Group, 7.30pm.

August 20, Princess Ida, Bus Pass Opera, 7.30pm.

August 21, H.M.S. Pinafore, National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, 2.30pm; Patience, National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, 7.30pm.

August 22, The Mikado, National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, 2.30pm; The Pirates Of Penzance,  National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, 7.30pm.

A night at the light opera: The International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival at the Royal Hall, Harrogate, in a past year

This summer’s festival run in Harrogate from August 9 to 23 would have featured five new National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company productions: The Pirates Of Penzance and The Sorcerer, directed by Richard Gauntlett; rising star Rachel Middle’s HMS Pinafore; Simon Butteriss’s Patience and Alan Borthwick’s The Emerald Isle (or The Caves Of Carrig-Cleena), a work staged only rarely.

Further highlights were to have been Charles Court Opera’s smart, stylish new take on The Mikado, directed by John Savournin, and their new production of Iolanthe, plus Rachel Middle’s production of The Yeomen Of The Guard for Forbear! Theatre.

After the cancellation of the 2020 festival, the organisers have launched a streaming service at gsopera.tv to show “the very best of the National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company and festival productions at home and abroad since 1994, plus many other G&S classics”.

“There’s something for everyone and our content will be constantly updated with new, exciting films for you to enjoy from the best seat in your house,” says festival trustee Bernard Lockett. “There’s free content to watch there too.

“You can watch gsopera.tv on your tablet, laptop, smart TV, smartphone or PC: anywhere with the internet. It’s easy to use and your purchases can be accessed on all your internet devices forever.

“Keep an eye out for our new weekly podcasts and webinars starring your festival favourites and Gilbert and Sullivan experts. They are coming soon and we can’t wait to share them with you. We are also selecting some outstanding films for an eagerly awaited virtual festival in August, so this year you can simply stay safely at home and enjoy being entertained.

“Gsopera.tv lets you re-live treasured memories and enjoy those magical performances that have made the Gilbert and Sullivan Festival such an amazing and unique event.”

International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival launches opera TV streaming service after August event’s cancellation

A night at the light opera: The International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival at the Royal Hall, Harrogate, in a past year

THIS summer’s 27th International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival at the Royal Hall, Harrogate, may have been cancelled, but the show must go on…online.

In response to the Covid-19 strictures, the festival is launching a new streaming service of past productions at www.gsopera.tv.

“We shall be streaming the very best of our National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company and G&S Festival productions at home and abroad since 1994, plus many other G&S classics,” says festival trustee Bernard Lockett.

“Unfortunately, there’s no International G&S Festival in 2020 because of Covid-19, but here, as is said in The Mikado, is our ‘substitute’: www.gsopera.tv. Full programme details will be available later.”

What delights lie in store, Bernard? “There’s something for everyone, and our content will be constantly updated with new, exciting films for you to enjoy from the best seat in your house. Sign in now on gsopera.tv and there’s even a ten per cent discount until May 14. There’s free content to watch there too,” he says.

“You can watch gsopera.tv on your tablet, laptop, smart TV, smartphone or PC – anywhere with the internet. It’s easy to use and your purchases can be accessed on all your internet-connected devices forever.”

What else? “Keep an eye out for our new weekly podcasts and webinars starring your festival favourites and Gilbert & Sullivan experts,” says Bernard. “They are coming soon and we can’t wait to share them with you.

“We’re selecting some outstanding films for an eagerly awaited virtual festival in August, so this year you can simply stay safely at home and enjoy being entertained. Our streaming service will let you re-live treasured memories and enjoy those magical performances that have made the Gilbert & Sullivan Festival such an amazing and unique event.”

Bernard also confirmed the G&S Festival will be “back in earnest” in 2021 at two locations: the festival’s original home of Buxton Opera House, from July 31 to August 7, and the Royal Hall, Harrogate, from August 8 to 22.

This summer’s festival run in Harrogate from August 9 to 23 would have featured five new National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company productions: The Pirates Of Penzance and The Sorcerer, directed by Richard Gauntlett; rising star Rachel Middle’s HMS Pinafore; Simon Butteriss’s Patience and Alan Borthwick’s The Emerald Isle (or The Caves Of Carrig-Cleena), a work staged only rarely.

Further highlights were to have been Charles Court Opera’s smart, stylish new take on The Mikado, directed by John Savournin, and their new production of Iolanthe, plus Rachel Middle’s production of The Yeomen Of The Guard for Forbear! Theatre.

Red Hot Chilli Pipers rearrange postponed Harrogate Royal Hall concert for next April

Pipe down: Red Hot Chilli Pipers are postponing their 2020 spring tour

BAGPIPE band Red Hot Chilli Pipers are postponing their April and May tour under the Coronavirus shutdown, but don’t be too deflated. The Celtic rock band’s dates are being rearranged for next spring.

The 2020 tour would have opened at the Royal Hall, Harrogate, on April 24, a show now re-scheduled for April 10 2021.

Tickets remain valid for the new date, but anyone unable to attend the revised gig – although who can predict anything in their diary for a year’s time?! – should claim a refund from the original point of purchase by Friday, April 10.

Piping up again: Red Hot Chllli Pipers, re-booked to play Harrogate in spring 2021

Formed in Scotland in 2002, Red Hot Chilli Pipers made a cameo appearance at the T In The Park festival with The Darkness in 2004 and won the BBC talent show When Will I Be Famous? in 2007.

Bringing together musicians, dancers and singers from Scotland and further afield, many holding world championship titles, they specialise in “Bagrock”, a groundbreaking fusion of traditional Scottish music and rock/pop anthems.

In 2014, the Pipers released the Live At The Lake DVD and CD, recorded at the Milwaukee Irish Fest, their American spiritual home by the shores of Lake Michigan, when they brought 16 musicians and dancers across the Atlantic.

The set that night took in Insomnia, Gimme All Your Lovin’, Thunderstruck, Everybody Dance Now, Amazing Grace, Fix You, Chasing Cars, Wake Me Up, Don’t Stop Believin’ and We Will Rock You.

Pipe dream team : Tom Walker linking up with Red Hot Chilli Pipers for Leave A Light On

In February 2019, the Pipers and Tom Walker released a new version of his 2018 hit Leave A Light On in aid of Nordoff Robbins, the music therapy charity. Earlier Walker and the band performed at Murrayfield before the Scotland versus Italy Six Nations rugby match.

In a new departure for the Pipers, last June’s studio album of new songs and covers, Fresh Air, featured lead vocals on many tracks, such as Walker on Leave The Light On and Chris Judge on the American band Walk The Moon’s Shut Up And Dance and Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

Next on the horizon in Yorkshire for Red Hot Chilli Pipers is a July 11 appearance at Pocklington Arts Centre’s Platform Festival at the Old Station, Pocklington. Watch this space for news of whether the festival will go ahead or not as the Coronavirus pandemic’s progress unfurls.