First official Kirklees Year of Music 2023 Learning Programme Event:


featuring Keynote Speaker YolanDa Brown OBE

On Tuesday 3 January, Musica Kirklees - the Music Hub for Kirklees - and Kirklees Council hosted ‘Music Changes Lives’ at the University of Huddersfield, kicking off Kirklees Year of Music 23. The one-day education conference sought to inspire music educators and the next generation with guest speakers, practical workshop sessions, a marketplace and young people’s panel. The conference discussed the need for more dialogue and collaboration between the music industry and music education, to support young people looking to develop a career in the music industry.

The conference keynote address was given by double MOBO Award-winning musician, broadcaster and author YolanDa Brown OBE. She highlighted the role that music can play in young people’s development. She said: “I’m so pleased to have delivered the keynote speech today at the Music Changes Lives conference for Musica Kirklees, the first event of Kirklees Year of Music.

Music is a form of communication. It can help play an important role in every young person’s life because It’s a wonderful way to get in touch with your feelings and to spark conversations with others. As a musician, when I perform I can see how music connects people. Music can really bring us together – I’ve seen it and felt it”

Musica Kirklees was delighted to stage the conference for the first time since 2020, welcoming delegates from across the region including the Leader of KirkleesCouncilShabir Pandor; West Yorkshire Mayor, Tracy Brabin and Cllr Will Simpson, Cabinet Member for Culture at Kirklees Council.

Leader of Kirklees Council Shabir Pandor said: “I’m really pleased to be here at the first event of Kirklees Year of Music, a great year that will celebrate our rich musical heritage and bring communities together.

We know how vital music is for young people’s development, which is why events like this are so important to both teachers and practitioners. By coming together as music professionals and champions we can make sure young people are at the heart of an exciting Kirklees Year of Music, and are able to enjoy the pleasure music brings, for years to come.

I am looking forward to shining a light on our thriving music scene here in Kirklees. To give everyone the opportunity to be part of it – both those living here and beyond. Music binds people together and it’s important that we continue to invest in it – along with culture, tourism and sport more broadly.  The Year of Music is not just for 2023, but an investment into music and culture in Kirklees. We hope that the seeds that are sown this year will inspire the generations of the future.”

West Yorkshire Mayor, Tracy Brabin, said: “It was fantastic to attend the start of Kirklees Year of Music and celebrate the wealth of musical talent that our region has to offer. The year ahead will showcase this talent to the world, creating opportunities for inspired young people across West Yorkshire for years to come. 

“This year of Music is one of the first in a wave of cultural celebrations that will be taking place across the region over the coming years, alongside Leeds 2023, Wakefield and Calderdale Years of Culture next year, culminating with Bradford’s Year as the UK City of Culture 2025. West Yorkshire really is the place to be.”

The packed programme of inspiring speakers and workshop leaders updated attendees on national and regional matters in the music industry. They also passed on new practical skills in learning and education settings. Attendees also discussed how to support young people’s access to opportunities to hear, play and participate in music and how to signpost to career opportunities in music, outside of teaching and performing.

The conference was the first official event of KYOM23’s Learning Programme. The programme includes Continuous Professional Development & Learning for music educators. Alongside, new Kirklees-specific learning resources with music heritage lessons and music practice resources. There will be opportunities for pupils, teachers and communities to experience live performances, and the chance to learn to sing and play an instrument.

Throughout 2023, KYOM23 will present a range of events, activities and participation opportunities, to raise the profile of music in Kirklees. These include the TOWNSOUNDS podcast series in association with Let’s Go Yorkshire: A programme to support those in the music industry including an international artist showcase event: And a series of participation projects to support health and wellbeing.

This summer, KYOM23 will also include a week-long musical event devised and directed by composer Orlando Gough and produced by Artichoke. The vibrant musical soundscape and major participatory project will trace the cultural and industrial story of Kirklees, through its multicultural musical traditions.

Find out more: https://www.musicinkirklees.co.uk/






Notes to editors


About YolanDa Brown OBE

YolanDa is a double MOBO Award winning artist, her music is a delicious fusion of reggae, jazz and soul. YolanDa has toured with The Temptations, Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, Billy Ocean and collaborated with artists such as Dave Stewart from Eurythmics, Snarky Puppy’s Bill Laurance, Kelly Jones from Stereophonics and Rick Astley.

In July 2022, YolanDa was appointed Chair of theBPI - the representative voice for independent and major record labels in the UK. BPI organises The annual BRIT Awards, The Mercury Prize and co-owns The Official Charts.


A champion for the importance of music education she is chair of Youth Music, sits on the Arts Council National Council, a trustee of the PRS Foundation, an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust and London Music Fund and sits on the advisory board of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2021, she was invited by the Department of Education to sit on the advisory panel of the National Plan for Music Education. YolanDa was awarded an OBE in the 2023 New Year’s Honours List for her services tomusic, music education, and broadcasting.

About Kirklees Year of Music 2023 (KYOMO23)

Kirklees Year of Music in 2023, is a unique, place-based, cultural change programme initiated and led by Kirklees Council.  Through investment in the district’s diverse music talent, communities and businesses, the year-long programme of major events and durational initiatives, will strengthen the music ecology of Kirklees from its roots. 

With children and young people front and centre, our strategic impact areas are music education, health & wellbeing, community cohesion, night-time and visitor economy, aspiration & skills, and inclusion with the overall aim to reduce inequality, and level up access to opportunity.


Kirklees Year of Music 2023 harnesses the unique power of making and enjoying music to bring people together; improve our health and well-being and put Kirklees firmly on the global map as a place where great music can be made, played and enjoyed.


For more information


Social Media: @musicinkirklees / #kirkleesyearofmusic #YearOfMusic2023 #kyom23


About Musica Kirklees

Musica Kirklees https://www.musicakirklees.org/  is an independent organisation, a registered charity (no. 1013838) and company limited by guarantee (no. 2737172), which exists to promote the advancement of public education in all aspects of music.  It was formed in 1992 to be the music service for Kirklees.  The organisation works closely in partnership with the Council and is the preferred provider of music services for the district – in schools, at central classes and ensembles at the five centres throughout Kirklees.


Musica Kirklees delivers tuition to over 5000 pupils in Kirklees through Whole Class Ensemble Tuition and a further 2000 pupils in small group instrumental tuition.  Twice a year our teachers form recital or #GiveItAGo initiatives and give live performances and workshops in schools, bringing live music to a further 6000 pupils. 

Musica Kirklees has over 70 members of staff, most performing a mainly teaching function, with a small administrative team based at the offices in Beast Market, Huddersfield. 

The management is headed by the Principal (Thom Meredith) with Vice Principal (Peter McHugh) and Assistant Principal (Nick Dolling), supported by five Area Managers and the administrative team.  They are backed by the Board of Directors, comprising a mix of representatives from local life including Councillors and parent representative.


Musica Kirklees aims to provide the highest quality music education for all.  We aim to do this by:


  • Providing enjoyable, inclusive musical experiences delivered by a team of dedicated, qualified and skilled staff
  • Identifying and nurturing talent to enable pupils to develop a love of music
  • Welcoming participation in a wide range of rehearsal and performance opportunities
  • Encouraging artistic and intellectual growth of the individual as part of lifelong learning
  • Realising potential through success and achievement at all levels
  • Fostering self-esteem, self-discipline and social integration
  • Providing partnerships and other positive links with schools and the community
  • Promoting high quality, high profile musical activity within Kirklees, nationally and internationally


Groups from our Centres and Central Ensembles have enjoyed great success at both regional and national level and we have been very well represented at the National Festival of Music for Youth for many years – we place great importance on the social and emotional benefits that involvement with music can bring.


About Shape North

Shape North Ltd is an inspirational Creative Education Consultancy. Holding a wealth of experience and knowledge, spanning both education and the arts, the two founders Kathy Coates-Mohammed and Stephanie Bartholet are adept at collaboration with all partners and communities and with this at the heart, build exciting arts programmes, projects and offers, deliver thought-provoking training and advise on creative curriculum design and teaching approaches.


Their work for Kirklees Year of Music focuses that expertise and energy, along with their in-depth knowledge of the district, into formulating and delivering an exciting offer of new musical opportunities and stimulating teacher development which will help ensure all children, young people and families experience the power and joy of music in their lives – now and into the future.

Website: shapenorth.co.uk



About Artichoke

Founded in 2005, Artichoke is one of the UK’s leading creative companies and a registered charity, and is part of Art Council England’s National Portfolio. The company’s aim is to work with artists to create unique, large-scale experiences that appeal to the widest possible audience and to use art to disrupt the everyday to create a new kind of world that we’d all like to live in. They believe the arts should not take place behind the closed doors of theatres, concert halls or galleries. Instead, they work in the street, public squares, along the coast and in the countryside across the UK, bringing communities together through learning and participation work leaving a legacy of skills and new-found potential behind.


Artichoke.uk.com | @artichoketrust