Festival celebrates city’s classical music talent

Sheffield music performers take over the city centre on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with an explosion of talent at the city’s Classical Weekend.

By Julia Armstrong
Monday, 04 March, 2019, 14:19
Kora player Kadialy Kouyate plays in the Winter Garden to promote the Classical Weekend in Sheffield

The event is organised by Classical Sheffield, an umbrella organisation that brings together the city’s classical performers. The idea is for the music to appeal to a far wider audience than just those music lovers who are comfortable walking into a concert hall .

One of the organisers, Fraser Wilson of Music in the Round, said: “Our Classical Weekend in Sheffield puts professionals, volunteers and young musicians together, sharing a stage.

Students from Sheffield Music Academy, who will be performing at the Classical Weekend

“That embodies what I believe in for music and it’s all free or low cost and that means there’s a lower barrier as cost needn’t be an issue.

“We use venues like Kelham Island Museum and the Winter Gardens for pop-up stuff involving large groups and small groups. It takes the word classical and opens it up to a broad definition.”

The festival has three themes – Future Makers, celebrating young musicians, Beyond Borders, looking at the fusions of classical with other artforms and cultures, and Women in Music. 

The weekend starts on International Women’s Day tomorrow. Fraser said: “That puts female musicians front and centre.”

The biggest stars of the weekend are the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and violinist Jennifer Pike at the City Hall on Friday, conducted by Anu Tau. Other events include the premiere of Sheffield City Opera’s Women of Steel on Saturday at Kelham Island Museum and a performance of Sheffield composer William Sterndale Bennett’s The Women of Samaria, performed by the Sterndale Singers on Saturday afternoon in the Upper Chapel.

“We’ve given the concert platform to the musicians of the future, so Sheffield can be a place where they are absolutely part of the scene,” said Fraser.

Future Makers events include Surround Sound at DINA on Cambridge Street tomorrow, described as ‘cinema for the ears’ using speakers as instruments to create a 3-D soundscape.

A New Song in the Upper Chapel on Saturday features Sheffield Chamber Choir, singers from city schools performing choral music, and Back to the Future, with Sheffield Music Academy performing works by two composer-violinists on Sunday morning in the City Hall ballroom.

Beyond Borders highlights include Senegalese musician and storyteller Kadialy Koudate playing the kora at DINA on Friday, a chance to try sketching to the accompaniment of Sheffield’s Guild of Strings at Channing Hall on Saturday morning and the Gospel Get-Together, combining JoAnne Sibanda and her choir with Endcliffe Orchestra, at Kelham Island Museum on Saturday night.

In Global Soundtracks at the City Hall on Sunday afternoon, singer and krar lyre player Haymanot Tesfa will improvise on traditional Ethiopian songs, accompanied by Iranian percussionist Adrian Sadr.

Pop-up performances are free and take place in the Winter Garden on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm, featuring a whole host of city performers. 

Ensemble 360 perform pop-up Bartok at the same venue on Sunday at 2.30, 3.30 and 4.30pm.

Pop-up folk sessions at the Millowners pub in Kelham Island Museum on Saturday from 5.30-9pm include an invitation to play or sing along, or just listen. 

Festival passes cost £20 for a day or £30 for the weekend and tickets for one show are £5. Royal Philharmonic and Bach Choir shows cost extra but pass holders get a discount. Tickets for under-18s are free. Book at classicalsheffield.org.uk or call 0114 223 3777.