I turned to the index of works in John McCabe masterly study of the composer. In the chronology of section he notes that Overture Hallé was first performed in Manchester, February 16, 1958, at the Free Trade Hall. John Barbirolli conducted the Hallé Orchestra at this event.
John McCabe does not rate the work highly. He regards it as ‘a curiously unsatisfying work, with a lengthy slow section after two false starts.’ He further considers that much of the content of this Overture consists of ‘undistinguished re-workings of Rawsthorne style rather than freshly minted tunes.’ He feels that the treatment of the themes is fairly pedestrian.
It was composed for the 1958 centenary of the Halle Orchestra. The original title of the work was apparently ‘Prelude for Orchestra’. However Barbirolli objected to this title. John McCabe quotes the composer as writing, ‘Well, well, I would settle for ‘Overture Halle’. I only thought my piece is a little less formal than the word ‘Overture’ now suggests.’ Furthermore, Rawsthorne felt that the title will be confused with the town in Saxony.