THE requirement for halls and theatres to become covid- secure settings impelled Leeds International Concert Season to go back to the drawing board.

Social distancing has reduced the audience seating capacity of Leeds Town Hall to just 250. The measures are just as rigorously applied to onstage performers and technical crews meaning that for the time being, big orchestral and choral concerts are off limits.

Following the success of three covid-secure pilot events designed to work through the logistics of a safe resumption of live music, Leeds International Concert Season and Opera North have announced a musical feast of smaller scale concerts for the Autumn term. The lineup includes chamber ensembles, Leeds Lieder recitals and Opera North lunchtime concerts. These are in addition to the long running free Monday lunchtime organ recitals and the Wednesday free lunchtime recitals previously held in the Leeds Conservatoire (formerly College of Music) Venue.

Last Saturday's concert from the European Union Chamber Orchestra admirably fitted into this brave new scheme of things. Although reduced by half their normal playing strength to just ten musicians on stage, the vitality of the smaller ensemble directed by Darragh Morgan was just as infectious. Anna Rosa Marie was the beguiling soloist in Vivaldi's Flute Concerto "La Tempesta di Mare" and the Flute Suite from Handel's Water Music. Mozart's Divertimento K138 emerged with taste and poise and Handel's Concerto Grosso Opus 6, No 1 had the desired crispness.The programme ended with JS Bach's Concerto D minor for Two Violins played by Darragh Morgan and Ciaran McCabe. Both soloists added to the overall instrumental textures rather than steal the limelight.

Geoffrey Mogridge