Our top 5 Hallé collaborations

One of the world’s greatest orchestras and one of Manchester’s most valuable cultural treasures, The Hallé Orchestra has been a close friend of the Festival from the very beginning.

To mark the Hallé’s 162nd year we take a look back at some of our favourite collaborations with this incredibly versatile and prolific orchestra over the years.


MIF07: The Ground Beneath Her Feet

For this MIF07 world premiere, Salman Rushdie’s epic novel The Ground Beneath Her Feet was transformed into a full-length multimedia concert piece. Victoria Borisova-Ollas’s ravishing score was performed by Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé – with Mike Figgis’s film and Alan Rickman’s narration adding extra dimensions.


MIF07: The Cunning Little Vixen | Alphabicycle

This delightful concert began with Geoff Dunbar’s enchanting new film version of Janáček’s much-loved work The Cunning Little Vixen, screened for the first time with live accompaniment by the Hallé. Great music and vivid animation combined magically in this moving tale of love, death, and rebirth. The evening also featured the world premiere of Colin Matthews’ Alphabicycle, a spellbinding composition for orchestra and children’s choir of a set of poems by Christopher Reid.


MIF09: Elbow & the Hallé

Elbow & the Hallé – credit Joel Chester Fildes

Deemed by some as one of the all-time definitive highlights of Manchester International Festival, Elbow, the Hallé and the Hallé Youth Choir gave two unique performances in the Bridgewater Hall featuring tracks from across Elbow’s back catalogue, conducted and arranged by Joe Duddell. Guy Garvey described these performances as ‘a love letter to the city’, and the feeling was apparently mutual – both nights sold out immediately, and a free big-screen relay to Castlefield Arena attracted an ecstatic crowd of 5,500 to sing along in the evening sunshine. It’s hard to forget the elation felt by all involved as the bells of Manchester Town Hall rang out on stage and across the city as the audience filed out.


MIF11: Die Walküre and The Madness of an Extraordinary Plan

Credit Joel Chester Fildes

MIF continued its partnership with the city’s Hallé Orchestra at MIF11 with this thrilling concert performance of Wagner’s Die Walküre, conducted by Sir Mark Elder. Described by The Sunday Times as “a force that looked as transcendent as they sounded”, the Hallé performed Die Walküre and a newly commissioned prologue for Wagner’s The Ring Cycle, The Madness of an Extraordinary Plan, over three concerts in the Bridgewater Hall.


MIF19: Leningrad

The thunderous standing ovation following the Hallé’s performance of Shostakovich’s ‘Leningrad’ Symphony in 2019 was almost a match for the majestic cacophony of the piece itself. Written for more than 100 musicians and first performed in the midst of the siege of the composer’s home city during the Second World War, the composition is a towering landmark in modern music and it was truly incredible to see it brought to life in Manchester for MIF19.

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