Music, horror and laughs as cathedral branches out

Clare Teal
Clare Teal

SHEFFIELD Cathedral stages its annual music and arts festival next month with its most ambitious line-up to date.

Comedy, jazz and acoustic music are part of the programme, from June 1 to 12, in the latest instance of the 1,000-year-old church opening its doors to new activities.

“We want to attract more people to the cathedral and to make it more of a cultural venue for the city and South Yorkshire,” said head of hospitality Rachael Savage.

“We have tried to raise the profile of the festival by having a more diverse line-up.”

Already a string of folk concerts has proved successful, and last month former rock star Rick Wakeman gave a well-received one-man show, all the events being held in the central nave.

Tonight (Thursday) most of the pews are being moved to make way for 350 guests at the annual dinner of the president of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce when the speaker will be Britain’s most celebrated Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. It is the first time the cathedral has staged an event of this nature.

The pews are staying out over the weekend to allow another first – the hosting on Saturday night of up to 300 dancers for a ceilidh, featuring the Sheffield-based Hekety Ceilidh Band, as part of a national morris dance weekend in Sheffield.

Worship on Sunday will be geared to an environment without the usual seats.

Yet it is the third annual arts festival that the cathedral stages in partnership with the University of Sheffield’s music department that sees new territory being broken.

The festival starts on Wednesday, June 1 with an appearance by Poet Laureate Andrew Motion, to be followed the next night by electric folk group The Demon Barbers and jazz singer Clare Teal on June 3.

Singer-songwriter Emmy The Great will give a concert on Saturday, June 4, followed by a world music night with Cigdem Aslan on June 5, Sheffield University orchestras on June 6 and French organist and composer Jehan Alain on June 7.

The cathedral’s first comedy night features Paul Kerensa on Wednesday, June 8.

The tradition of screening a film in the cathedral continues with a screening of Phantom of the Opera – the cinematic horror masterpiece starring Lon Chaney- on June 9.

Music returns with a solo performance by acclaimed singer songwriter Teddy Thompson on June 10 before the festival is wound up with more traditional offerings of the Jessop Sinfonia and Sheffield Oratorio Chorus (June 10) and choral music and readings for Pentecost (June 12).