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Performing arts can be defined as a human activity whereby people express themselves artistically through ranges of voice, body movement and the use of objects.  Now wherever you go in the world, you will notice how every area has its own distinct form of performing arts. Manchester is highly renowned for its diverse range of performing arts. The Hallé Orchestra which is a British symphony orchestra is based in Manchester, and it’s one of my favourite symphonic musical ensembles!

An introduction to the Hallé Orchestra
The Hallé Orchestra, pictured with its current musical director Sir Mark Elder CBE. Source: BBC

The Hallé Orchestra which is now in its 158th session is one of Britain’s most distinguished musical orchestras. Founded in May 1857 in Manchester by Anglo-German pianist and conductor Sir Charles Hallé, the Hallé Orchestra was firstly established as a musical ensemble to perform at the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition.

An introduction to the Hallé Orchestra

Charles Hallé – Founder of the Hallé Orchestra.

In response to the acclaim that Sir Charles Hallé had received after the performances which ended in October, the Hallé Orchestra established itself as an official organisation with its home base being the Free Trade Hall, and under Charles Hallé performed its first concert on the 30th January 1858. Sir Charles Hallé conducted most of the Hallé’s performances until his death, and after his passing three of his closest friends – Henry Simon, Gustav Behrens and James Forsyth took over the Hallé’s management assimilating it into the Hallé Concerts Society; which secured the orchestra’s functioning and prevention from closure. In collaboration with highly respected conductors such as Hans Richter, Sir Hamilton and Sir John Barbirolli, the Hallé Orchestra has continuously thrived as a symphonic performing arts ensemble.

The Free Trade Hall in Manchester historically was always home to the Hallé Orchestra. However during the Second World War, the Free Trade Hall was bombed in the Manchester blitz, meaning that the Hallé Orchestra had to perform in different location settings such as the Albert Hall, and sometimes even cinemas. However by 1951 the Free Trade Hall was rebuilt and the Hallé Orchestra further developed and distinguished itself there until 30th June 1996, whereby it moved its home base to its now current location which is the Bridgewater Hall.

An introduction to the Hallé Orchestra
The Hallé Orchestra’s current location – Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall.

The current musical director of the Hallé Orchestra is now Sir Mark Elder CBE, who is accredited for helping to increase the presence and popularity of the Hallé Orchestra and classical music as a performing art in the UK, especially amongst British youth.

One of the most widely recognised performances of the Hallé Orchestra has to be the ‘Last night Of the Hallé Proms’. The Last Night of the Hallé Proms is the ultimate grand finale of the Hallé Orchestra’s annual summer concerts. It celebrates the Hallé’s unique history through a collection of classical musical pieces that the Hallé Orchestra perform. The 2015 prom edition under the guidance of conductor Stephen Bell and Baritone player William Dazeley, was an outstanding success with the Hallé Orchestra performing classical musical compositions such as: Elgar’s Overture : In the South, Rossini’s Largo al factotum, and of course Arne arr. Sargent’s Rule Britannia!

An introduction to the Hallé Orchestra

Last Night of the Hallé Proms – A musical celebration of what Manchester and Britain can culturally offer! Source: Manchester Evening News.

The Hallé Orchestra is truly a testament to Manchester’s musical history, and the Last Night of the Hallé Proms is now revered across Manchester and Britain, as an annual traditional Mancunian fixture that is positively synonymous with Manchester’s musical performing arts scene.

I would definitely recommend going to watch the Hallé Orchestra live!


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