UNITE! Arise! Alight!
The rallying calls went out when it was learned that Sheffield would be the only city in Yorkshire involved in the BBC’s Music Nation weekend, a Countdown event for the London 2012 Festival, the finale of Cultural Olympiad this Saturday.
Arts organisations and individuals across the city have arisen and united to set Sheffield alight for the day with music for most tastes, visual arts and dance for what is described as a ‘genuine once in a lifetime’ extravaganza which it is in the sense that March 3 2012 will never come round again!
A community festival with substantial Arts Council funding and a grant from the Sheffield Town Trust, the day falls into two parts.
Alight: Daylight, is a continuous stream of mostly free (two have admission charges) daytime events at various venues followed by Alight: Twilight, when a full-blown, spectacular History of Sheffield in words and music is promised at the City Hall.
Ten daytime events take place at both The HUBS on Paternoster Row and the Winter Garden, seven at the Town Hall if you include an address by the Lord Mayor, Coun Sylvia Dunkley, and six in the main atrium at Sheffield Train Station.
Performers range from African drumming group Bleat Beat, Dimond Ranks, a band that plays everything from blues, folk, rock to hillbilly, the Anything Goes Orchestra, a Ukulele-based trio that plays jazz, swing, pop and punk to highly-rated indie band GoldSoul.
They are all on twice during the day at different venues, while the creative arts group (everything from poetry to Slovakian lace-making) Art in the Park pops up four times.
Encountered once are Taiwanese-born erhu (Chinese fiddle) player David Chang who has added a new dimension to Sheffield’s folk scene; Sheffield Babel Songs who perform music drawn from the city’s immigrant population; and Cordao de Ouro (Sheffield) Capoeira who promote the Brazilian art form incorporating martial art, dance and music.
Other ‘one-offs’ include performances by youth theatre company Inyerface, and Carlos – Pavarotti-esque voice with piano accordion!
An eclectic mix of choral groups make appearances: SingSoc (Sheffield University), gay choir Out Aloud, BeVox, Juxtavoices, Carfield Community Choir, and the Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus without whom the day would not be happening.
They put themselves forward to run it and contribute a concert at Victoria Hall, Norfolk Street, featuring music they would not normally perform - small scale works with unusual combinations of instruments by Saint-Saëns, Fauré, Janácek, Schumann and Brahms.
Also being performed is the first of two works specially commissioned for the day, Everyone Sang by Yaron Hollander, and admission is £7 – the instrumentalists will want paying!
Next door, at the United Central Reform Church, Sheffield Youth Orchestra invites anyone of any age to join them in a ‘come and play’ performance of Rachmaninov’s Symphony No 2.
Adult choral singers, meanwhile, are specified for a three-hour vocal workshop led by three members of ace a capella group Stile Antico in the Domino Hall of Sheffield Cathedral with a charge of £15 for participants – (0114) 281 4660.
Weston Park Museum hosts Sheffield Music Academy students who augment The Carnival of Animals by Saint-Saëns with some of their own with the odd Sheffield connection, like Arctic Monkeys!
If handbell ringing takes your fancy there is an afternoon of it at Gatty Hall, Priory Road, Ecclesfield, organised by Ecclesfield Handbell Ringers with the chance to have a go.
The Philharmonic Chorus, BeVox, Inyerface, Music Academy students, plus the Endcliffe Orchestra, the big bands from both city universities, Sheffield Music Service’s Intermediate Orchestra, Morris Dancers and 100 jive dancers are among the forces on the City Hall stage in the evening.
As the story of Sheffield unfolds from its birth as a city, the many musical numbers range widely: the Cutlery Concerto, Glenn Miller, Handel, the Beatles, Elgar, Greasy Chip Butty Song and the premiere of the day’s second commissioned work from Timothy Allen performed by everyone on stage.
It seems to fit well enough into the script for the show, devised and written by Mark Langley, and gets underway at 7.30pm with tickets priced at £6.