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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA



previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke






Review by Dr Joe Dawson


Margaret Ferguson and Jonathan Ellis are outstanding performers and regular visitors to Toad Lane Concerts at St Mary in the Baum, where they are always welcome.


The opening two arias from La Clemenza di Tito by Mozart were object lessons in singing Mozart.

Margaret has a superb range, able to deal with the subterranean depths of the contralto range up to poised soprano heights necessary for the performance of these works. Few mezzo sopranos can achieve this. Furthermore, she has an engaging personality and stage presence that captivates an audience, a deep understanding of character and always secure musicianship. Her control of vocal line is remarkable. Supported by award-winning accompanist Jonathan, they make a formidable musical partnership.


Extending her large repertoire with rarely heard French songs, Les bontes du Seigneur by Sylla, and Le Reve de Jesus by Viardot, was an immense success. Je te veux (I want you) by Erik Satie was a particular delight, her French diction adding considerably to the catchy well-known waltz tune.


Margaret can also embrace popular works such as Un giorno per noi/ Addio del passato by Rota/Verdi. She is not averse to pinching hits by others and making them her own, such as Josh Groban’s Gira con me, Dreamers from Jean by Marvin Hamlisch, and a rousing The Glory of Love by B Hill. All topped off with a boisterous finale of Devonshire cream and cider by Curzon and Sanderson.


The Queen’s Award-winning Toad Lane Concerts are every Wednesday at 12.30pm at St Mary in the Baum, Toad Lane, Rochdale, OL16 1DZ. Entrance fee is £6. Contact 01706 648872 for further information.


Rochdale Town Hall sets the stage for half term fun

Preview by Steve Cooke

A unique theatre production is coming to Rochdale Town Hall this half term and it’s completely free to attend.

The production, Carried by the Wind, will be blowing into town on Friday 31 May for three special performances, with tickets available now.

Performed by the Goofus Theatre company, Carried by the Wind features Margarinee and Basket, two strolling carnival players, as they hit the road and follow a feather that could lead to anywhere.

As a non-verbal production, it’s a unique way of storytelling which focusses on puppetry, masks and music and is particularly well suited to children, neuro diverse audiences and those who speak English as a second language. There will be three showings throughout the day at 11am, 1.30pm and 3.30pm.

The play is part of the town hall’s offer for children, which includes opportunities to play dress up in the mayor’s parlour and the great hall and enjoy a special peregrine falcons colouring book. Young visitors can also grab an exploring pack, a ruck sack full of tools, from magnifying glasses to binoculars and coloured glass, to help them investigate the town hall. There are also interactives in many of the rooms to bring the spaces alive, particularly for younger audiences.

More family events will be taking place later in the year, including a family rave and Storytime musical by BBC Philharmonic, which are both taking place during the summer holidays.

A children’s lunch deal is also now available at the pop-up café, where families can get a sandwich, drink and snack for £4.50. In addition, there are bookable tours taking place at 11am each day.

Councillor Sue Smith, cabinet member with responsibility for the town hall, said: “This fantastic event is one of many which will be taking place throughout this year at Rochdale Town Hall now it’s been restored, reopened and given back to our residents for them to enjoy and explore. Carried by the Wind is a wonderful creative activity which will help keep youngsters entertained during the half term and I’m sure the tickets will go quickly.”

The town hall is open every day (except bank holidays), from 10am to 4pm.

People can book tickets to Carried By the Wind and find out more about what’s on offer at the town hall at:




Wednesday 29 May 2024

Toad Lane Concerts - Rochdale's Weekly Music at Lunchtime

This week we have Charlotte Thomson soprano, Mila Johannsen mezzo-soprano and Minyu Shi piano (all RNCM)

The concert series has been held at St Mary’s since 2001 and was granted the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2020… during the pandemic!

Running every Wednesday, Music at Lunchtime is a weekly live classical music concert series that has been going since the 1960s. The sessions were initially run at the old Rochdale Art Gallery by the local authority, but since May 2001 have been run by volunteer-enthusiasts and artistic director, Dr Joe Dawson.


Phone Dr Joe Dawson 01706 648872

Doors open 12noon, concert starts 12.30pm - 1.30pm

St Mary in the Baum, Toad Lane/St Mary's Gate, Rochdale OL16 1DZ


Thursday 30 May 2024

Free Crafty Drop-In Session at our Half-Term Hive

Free-bee Event: Half- Term Hive Time!

We need your help to create our new museum display- using recycled materials to craft and decorate a whole hive of bees!

We’re absolutely buzzing to be putting together a display all about bees and how they relate to the co-operative movement – but we need your help!

Bumble on down to this drop-in session where you can create your own unique bee which will then be used in our display!

This event is free (we're not pollen your leg!), but donations to the museum are always welcomed.

Please note that if we experience busy periods, you may need to wait to get the chance to craft your bee.

The museum has lots of fun activities which can be enjoyed whilst you wait.


Phone: Rochdale Pioneers Museum 01706 524920

11am - 2pm

Rochdale Pioneers Museum, 31 Toad Lane, Rochdale OL12 0NU


Thursday 30 May 2024 - Saturday 01 June 2024

Visit Fireground Museum

Join us at Fireground this week to discover Greater Manchester's firefighting story.

Fire museum attractions are on show inside the museum including our collection of historic firefighting artefacts from the 18th century to present day, plus home-made refreshments in the new Fireground Café, and souvenirs from our fantastic new gift shop! We have a wide choice ranging from toddler to collector.

Under 4s are free, Children (aged 4-15) and Concessions £5, Adults £7 and Family (4 people) £20.

Phone: Fireground 01706 341219

Open Thursday, Friday & Saturday from 10am - 4pm

Fireground, Maclure Road, Rochdale OL11 1DN


Friday 31 May 2024

Goofus Theatre: Carried by the Wind

Be free as a feather.

A feather blowing in the wind, carried on and on, a strange dance, free and

magical to who knows where.

Come and join Margarinee and Basket, two strolling carnival players as they hit

the road and follow a beautiful feather that could lead them anywhere…

Carried By The Wind is a pop up, playful non-verbal journey with puppetry,

mask and music for all ages.

Free - booking is required to obtain free ticket.

11am, 1.30pm and 3pm

Rochdale Town Hall, The Esplanade, Rochdale OL16 1AB


Saturday 01 June 2024

Milnrow Fun Day

Live music & entertainment, Inflatables, Rides, Game stalls, Craft stalls, Food and drinks, Celebrity appearance.

All money raised will be for Ben's charity cycle from John O'Groats - Lands’ End. The total will be split between both Springhill Hospice and The Christie's charity.

10am - 8pm

Milnrow Memorial Park, Newhey Road, Milnrow OL16 4JF


Saturday 01 June 2024

Kids Stitch & Play

We are so excited to offer the chance for local children and their caregivers to join us in learning sewing skills.

All our sessions are open to all children under 10 of all abilities. 

No need to book, just turn up on the day, meet new friends whilst learning a new fun skill.

Perfect for calm play, developing fine motor skills and social interaction.

Sessions will be the first Saturday of each month.

Each session will cost no more that £1 per child for materials.

This month we will be making summer pompom gonks.

Phone: Leonie 07513 694862

1pm - 3pm

Brimrod Church Community Hall, Roch Valley Way, Rochdale OL11 4PZ



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