David's bowing out


David Greed performing in Huddersfield Town Hall_credit Justin Slee
David Greed performing in Huddersfield Town Hall (picture: Justin Slee )

Who would you think was the longest-serving opera company orchestra concertmaster in Europe? Some chap at the Vienna Staatsoper, perhaps? Or the primo violino of La Scala Milan?

It’s actually David Greed, who has led the orchestra of Opera North since its establishment in 1978. That’s 44 years before the mast, no mean achievement.

But David is finally bowing out (or bowing out, if you say it the other way… musical pun, there).

His last performances with the company will be under the baton of Richard Farnes in another great multi-media extravaganza from the company that has made them its own: Wagner’s Parsifal. It’s at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester on June 12, after four shots in the Grand Theatre in Leeds (June 1, 4, 7 and 10), and then in Nottingham, Gateshead and London.

David has been the most self-effacing of leaders, always letting the music do the talking. But I remember one occasion when he did, briefly, let his feelings show in the presence of a journalist. I was sitting in on an Opera North rehearsal prior to interviewing the-then music director, Paul Daniel, who had just announced his intention to resign, after seven outstandingly successful years.

I asked him how it would go down with the members of the orchestra (who you could tell really liked working with him).

“Well, you can say he’s good at being a bare-faced liar,” said David Greed. “Only yesterday he was telling us all how much he loved us – and now he’s off to bloody English National Opera.” It was a musician’s way of saying that someone would be sorely missed.