LEEDS Town Hall’s organ has helped mark this year’s very unusual Yorkshire Day.

The instrument fell silent on March 20 as the building closed its doors to the public to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

But on Saturday, August 1 the Victoria Hall was filled once more with the organ’s unmistakable sound during a special, online recital for Yorkshire Day.

Leeds City Organist Darius Battiwalla took to the stage at midday to play a series of iconic pieces of classical music written by composers who have a direct link to Yorkshire.

Broadcast by Chapel FM and on social media, the concert was the very first live performance at the Town Hall since the lockdown began and included pieces by William Herschel, Johann Strauss, Alfred Hollins and Eric Bairstow.

Speaking on the eve of the performance, Darius said: “The organ has played such an important part in the story of music in Leeds and everyone at the Town Hall has a genuine affinity and affection for its sound resonating through the building as it entertains and delights our wonderful audiences.

“It’s been difficult not being able to be play for people these past few months and, whilst we won’t be welcoming them in person, it will be an emotional experience connecting with them in a completely new way on such a fitting occasion as Yorkshire Day.”

Played at the opening ceremony of Leeds Town Hall in 1858, which was attended by Queen Victoria, the organ’s case was designed by architect Cuthbert Brodrick and made by Leeds firm Thorpe and Atkinson. One of the largest of its kind in Europe the instrument is 50 feet high, 47 feet wide and weighs almost 70 tons.

Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Judith Blake, said: “Leeds Town Hall is more than a building - it’s a symbol of our city, its culture and its heritage so there’s no better occasion for live music return to this unique venue than Yorkshire Day.

“I hope this performance can act as rallying cry for everyone in Leeds to continue to show their support and passion for our arts organisations large and small.”

The recital can be heard at https://www.leedstownhall.co.uk/whats-on/all-shows/yorkshire-day-organ-concert/6332.