Actor swaps mimicry for music as part of public concert series


Actor and comic Alistair McGowan aims to make a big impression when he returns to the region as part of a new series of public concerts organised by the University of Leeds.

The impressionist and writer, who studied English at the University, acts as narrator during a performance by The Revolutionary Drawing Room quartet on Sunday 24 April 2016. The event will intersperse the music with readings from Georgian era singer and composer Michael Kelly’s famous Reminiscences of famous composers of the time in Vienna.

The event is just one from the glittering line up making up the new season of the University of Leeds International Concert Series, whose line-up and new brochure is revealed this week.

The series features a diverse and exciting mix of performances by professional artists from around the world, covering all genres of music. It includes free Friday lunchtime recitals in term time and concerts aimed at audiences of all ages and tastes, as well as regular showcase events for students from the University’s School of Music. 

The new season is the last arranged by artistic director Jillian Johnson MBE, who retires at the end of August after 50 years’ service to the University – the last 14 spent co-ordinating the concert series. She was awarded her MBE in the New Year’s Honours for services to music and higher education in Leeds in 2013, the year the University marked 100 years of public concerts. 

Jillian said: “Our concert underlines the University’s commitment to the arts in the city and region. It provides a valuable opportunity to welcome all onto campus to enjoy a varied musical programme.”

The 2015/16 programme will complement a University-wide programme of events marking next year’s commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, with recitals reflecting on the Bard’s influence on music.

The concerts take place in the Clothworkers’ Centenary Concert Hall on campus. Other programme highlights include: 

* An evening of music from the home front – part of the University’s Legacies of War First World War centenary project on Armistice Day

* A performance by Leeds University Percussion Ensemble with Nebojsa Zivkovic on 5 December 2015 that will combine local talent with this vibrant world famous percussion performer and composer

* A cabaret-style supper concert with Edith Piaf tribute singer Eve Loiseau on 13 February 2016.

* A celebrity organ recital with Laurence Cummings celebrating the Clothworkers’ Concert Hall’s ‘Handel’ organ. The organ builder will give a pre-concert talk at this, the Vice-Chancellor’s concert, on 22 November 2015.

* A master-class and recital by pianist Martin Roscoe on 27 November 2015.

* February’s Early Music Festival, which includes an unprecedented collaboration between I Fagiolini and Fretwork.

To coincide with the concert series, art exhibitions take place in the foyer of the concert hall. The first of these for the new season features work by print maker Carry Akroyd, as a prelude to a concert celebrating the music, life and times of “peasant poet” John Clare on 31 October 2015.

* Details of all events are online at Contact or call Jess Ward on 0113 3432584. 

Further information 

For images or to arrange interviews, contact the Press Office, on 0113 3434031 or email

More details of the history of public concerts at the University can be found here: