Sharing heritage of Sheffield carolling

Traditional carols at the Royal Hotel, Dungworth:
Traditional carols at the Royal Hotel, Dungworth:

Sheffield’s famous carols will ring around the Winter Garden this weekend to underscore the city’s reputation as a maker of music.

People who know the carols – and those who don’t – will have the chance to experience the tradition in the heart of the city centre on Saturday.

It follows the awarding of a commission as part of the Year of Making to Soundpost, a Sheffield organisation committed to bringing music, song and dance into people’s lives through workshops, schools projects and other events.

“This is a big opportunity to learn more about the carols and to share the tradition with the people of Sheffield,” said Soundpost general manager Kate Thompson.

“Soundpost does some amazing work and is growing quickly. To have been chosen from all the other amazing projects for Year of Making funding means such a lot. Sharing what we do with everybody – of all backgrounds – is really important.”

In particular, Sheffield’s rich heritage of local carols can be heard in villages and pubs in the north-west of the city in the run-up to Christmas, but interest and enthusiasm continues to grow, locally, nationally and even internationally.

Local choirs, schools and pub singers will take part in the carol day in the Winter Garden, between 10.30am and 2.30pm, with an invitation for the public to join in. The event is a collaboration between Soundpost and Brass Bands England. A paid-for in-depth workshop, led by carols expert Ian Russell, an emeritus professor at Aberdeen University, is being held at the nearby Montgomery Theatre Gallery, off Surrey Street, from 10am, before a performance in the Winter Garden at 2pm.

Commissions of between £3,000 and £10,000 – backed by Sheffield University and supplemented by funding from other organisations – have been awarded in the second wave of awards in the Year of Making, which celebrates everything from traditional and advanced manufacturing and specialist steels to award – winning theatre, international art and design – and a wide range of music.

Kate said: “The tradition of Sheffield carols has been described as one of the most remarkable instances of popular traditional singing in the British Isles. However, many people across the city have never heard a local carol and certainly have never experienced the joy of such raucous singing that occurs when singing local carols at an organised ‘sing’.

“This project aims to create that same infectious atmosphere for both schoolchildren and adults who would not normally access the tradition, and give them an opportunity to learn about and explore their local heritage through workshops and a performance in the city centre.”

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, director of city and cultural engagement at the university, said: “All the commissions involve seed-funding from the university which has resulted in significant investment from other partners.

“The collaboration means we can bring world-class arts and culture to Sheffield, in some cases to places where these types of activities would not normally take place.”

The Year of Making is led by the Sheffield Culture Consortium. Soundpost was started in 2011 by folk singers and musicians Fay Hield, Sam Sweeney, Andy Bell and Jon Boden.