Craven conductor helps to revive festival orchestra

First published in

STEETON musician Ben Crick has helped to revive the Harrogate Festival Orchestra ahead of the festival’s 50th anniversary.

It played at the first ever festival in 1966 and will perform again at this year’s festival finale on Saturday.

Among its ranks will be members of Skipton Building Society Camerata – of which Yorkshire-born Ben is artistic director.

“All I care about is making music and climbing mountains,” said Ben, who is a classically trained cellist. “I think orchestral music is the most beautiful music in the world. I believe the art form can speak to everyone.”

And Ben is on a mission to spread the word.

“When the great symphonies were first written, it was part of the social scene. And there’s a risk we are estranged from that, it’s on a pedestal. I want to integrate it so it’s normal.”

That doesn’t mean dumbing down. “I don’t care if you have bright green hair if you play Rachmaninov. We can make classical music accessible without editing great works down to 15 per cent their full length or having sublime arias sung by singers with a modicum of celebrity who can’t sing in the original keys.”

Ben is convinced Harrogate Festival Orchestra will be a success.

“From this first concert at Harrogate, we can take it to rural venues where provision is limited and create a vibrant artistic musical hub. This gig is the first step in that journey,” said Ben, who lives with his partner, opera singer Hannah Mason, and their four-year-old son.

The festival finale will be staged at the Royal Hall, Harrogate, at 8pm and tickets are available from or 01423 562303.

Follow Ben on Twitter @benconductor

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