Celebration of classical music in Leeds is on the up

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The annual Classical Fantasia concert in Leeds is slowly but surely winning back fans who deserted it after ticket charges were introduced.

As many as 9,000 people used to flock to the classical music extravaganza in the grounds of Kirkstall Abbey during its time as a free event.

The audience figure slumped to 2,640 in 2011, after cash-strapped organisers at Leeds City Council introduced paid-for tickets.

Now, though, it has been revealed that this year’s concert attracted an encouraging total of 4,046 people.

Hailing the success of September’s event, Coun Lucinda Yeadon, the council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills, said: “It was brilliant to see such an enthusiastic crowd at Classical Fantasia this year.

“The feedback we have received has been really positive, and I would like to thank everyone at the council’s events team and all the artists, who made the night so memorable.”

The upturn in Classical Fantasia’s fortunes follows the cancellation of another council-organised concert, Opera in the Park.

It is traditionally held in July in the grounds of Temple Newsam House but did not take place this year due to budget pressures at the local authority.

Announcing the axe for the event, the council said some of Opera in the Park’s most popular elements would be incorporated into 2014’s Classical Fantasia programme.

Backed by the Yorkshire Evening Post, this year’s Kirkstall Abbey concert featured stars such as Noah Stewart and Amy Dickson.

General ticket prices were set at £15, although money-off deals were available.

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