New music premiere

Manchester Collective members, cellist Adam Szabo and sister violinists Rakhi and Simmy Singh
Manchester Collective members, cellist Adam Szabo and sister violinists Rakhi and Simmy Singh

A new piece of music celebrating the life of writer Anthony Burgess will be performed in Sheffield by an equally new music group, the Manchester Collective.

Internationally-acclaimed composer Huw Belling has written Inside Mr Enderby, a series of character sketches in song form, based on the comic novel of the same name.

The piece, scored for singer and string quartet, is the collective’s first major annual commissions.

It was chosen to celebrate the centenary of the Mancunian author, probably best known for his book A Clockwork Orange.

The Belling piece, created in association with the Anthony Burgess Foundation, gets its world premiere in Sheffield.

Cellist and collective artistic director Adam Szabo said: “That’s something we’re really excited about.”

He added: “Enderby himself is a sort of Alan Partridge figure almost, slightly pathetic. He has a hugely inflated sense of self.”

A key song depicts the moment when Enderby realises he is not a great artistic figure but a minor poet.

Renowned Australian baritone and actor Mitch Riley is flying in from Paris to perform at the concert.

It also features Janacek’s emotionally-charged String Quartet No 2, ‘Intimate Letters’, which depicts his deep love for a much younger, married woman.

Adam explained why he helped to det up the collective. He described the North West as an “incredible cauldron” of amazing orchestral music that for some reason doesn’t have the same breadth of performance of chamber music.

The group of international instrumentalists aims to perform both the best of contemporary music and classical western masterpieces.

Adam said of the Sheffield show programme: “Both works are about love and about the delusion that love can create in us.

“Mitch is an internationally-acclaimed baritone and combines that career with physical theatre and acting.

“He brings visual aspects to the projects which is not what you might expect if you go to a classical concert.

“Our programming for the year is hugely varied, though.

“We have a cabaret show in September and another with an accordion player, performing the music of the Argentinian tango and folk music from Bulgaria.

“We are difficult to pigeonhole into any genre.”

Their concerts are held in the round, with musicians very close to the audience, said Adam. “It’s an incredibly visceral, intimate experience. The feedback so far has been remarkable.

“It gives the audience a way in to experience the passion and relationship between the musicians, as they stagger through often outrageous music physically.

“It’s an extreme sport.”

Adam said that Sheffield was chosen because of its musical heritage and the breadth of music that’s performed here.

He added of the show’s Kelham Island venue: “The Chimney House in an incredible place. We anticipate that young audiences and more established cultural audiences will be excited about what we are doing.”

The Manchester Collective play The Chimney House next Thursday, March 23. To book tickets, go to Manchester Collective