#Leeds2023 – A journey back through our cultural events

With #Leeds2023 a year away we have been reflecting on a few cultural events that we have hosted at the University of Leeds over the years. The opportunity to celebrate these fantastic events has really built up the excitement for #Leeds2023 and the year of culture! Click on the subheading to be taken to the article and read our full story about the event. The team behind #Leeds2023 had this to say about the event with a year to go:

“2023 is going to be a year that changes our extraordinary city forever and for the better. We’re embarking on a year-long celebration of culture, happening all over the city and everybody can be a part of it.”


Opera North Orchestra Academy and Orchestra Camp

First we revisited the exciting work of the Opera North Orchestra Academy and Orchestra Camp hosted in the University’s School of Music. The Opera North Orchestra Academy is aimed at 14-19 year olds and offers a fantastic experience for aspiring young musicians to receive world-class orchestral training. Last taking place in 2019, the camp offered an inspirational and supportive environment for everyone to learn and grow in confidence. Alongside practicing and rehearsing with professional musicians, the young delegates were able to benefit from a side-by-side rehearsal with a full orchestra and professional conductor. The eager young musicians were able to develop their technical and creative ability in an action-packed programme full of fun and high-quality teaching. Working with Opera North is such a fantastic opportunity to promote culture in younger people and we always love seeing them return to campus. Emma Barnett, Youth Orchestral Manager from Opera North says:

“Being able to host the students nearby to the Howard Opera Centre, in a safe and supportive environment at the University of Leeds, enables us to reach and support the development of young musicians across the North of England and beyond”

Young and adult musicians play string instruments in front of their music stands.

Photo Credit Justin Slee

Leeds International Piano Competition

We then celebrated the Leeds International Piano Competition, a key cultural event that the University has hosted since 1961. The competition is open to pianists under 30 from around the world and has always had a very close relationship with the University of Leeds. ‘The Leeds’, as it is affectionately known, took place from 8th-18th September 2019 and as is tradition held its semi-finals in the Great Hall. 22 Pianists from 19 countries went on to perform in the grand finals at Leeds City Hall. The Leeds International Piano Competition is a long standing partner and is a much celebrated cultural event celebrated across the city, we always look forward to working with them! Adam Gatehouse, Artistic Director for Leeds International Piano Competition, says

“We are thrilled to be able to hold the main part of the Competition in the University’s iconic Great Hall and enjoy access to the top-quality pianos of the University’s own Steinway School. All our competitors and jury members enjoy wonderful hospitality – the University staff are part of our family, and provide incredible support and enthusiasm for our young competitors.”


The final stop on our cultural journey was to reflect on Mslexicon 2019, an event run by Mslexia – A magazine for women who write covering the business and psychology of writing. Mslexicon was aimed at female creative writers, covering those interested in novels, short fiction, memoirs and many more types of non-fiction writing. The event allowed writers to nurture their craft and progress their career with help from leading agents, authors, tutors, and mentors. The group workshops and talks covered topics such as voice, character development, plot, as well as advice on publishing trends, creativity, and how to cope with the submissions process. Supporting events like Mslexicon is such an important part of supporting the city of Leeds to ensure everybody gets the chance to experience and share their cultural knowledge with those around them!

Mslexicon inside Devonshire Hall Courtyard

Looking Ahead

#Leeds2023 is just one year away and we have loved reflecting on our past events in order to build the excitement for what should be a fantastic year for the city of Leeds in 2023. At the University of Leeds we pride ourselves on being able to support the city by hosting great events such as those above. #Leeds2023 promises to deliver a cultural event the type of which the city has never experienced before and at the University of Leeds are excited to support a fantastic year of events.

“For one whole year (all 365 days, 12 months, and 500,000 minutes of it), this city is letting culture loose. We’re gonna create, make, perform, run, bake, eat, share, sing, speak, play and more besides. Because culture is everywhere in this city.”