Stanley Chadwick wrote about the first known Huddersfield Music Festival in the Huddersfield Weekly Examiner. It can be argued that the civic musical history of Huddersfield began in 1812 when Thomas Parratt (c.1792-1862) became the first organist at Huddersfield Parish Church, where, amongst other duties, Thomas played at fifty Christmas services. The first festival archival records confirm that The Grand Huddersfield Musical Festival was held from the 7-9 of October 1818. The purpose of the festival was to raise funds to replace the old building of the National Charity School. The festival had a number of patrons including the Earl of Dartmouth and Lord Milton M.P.41
The principal vocal performers engaged for the festival were well-known from the concert circuits in Bath and London. Thomas Parratt was to perform on a new organ, in Huddersfield Parish Church, built by Gray’s of London. A subscription ticket for the four concerts cost thirty shillings. The opening concert consisted of ‘The most favourite songs, glees, solos, symphonies and concertos by the principal performers’. There was also a performance of Handel’s Messiah and the oratorio Redemption, in the Parish Church.42
Together with more miscellaneous concerts the event was concluded with a ‘grand ball’. Another festival was held in aid of the National Charity School in 1821.43 From these beginnings annual festivals have not only highlighted the musical talent of the town, but also encouraged performers of international repute to visit Huddersfield.
Shown below are three key ongoing festivals that represent this: