Watch young Sheffield musicians at showcase of up-and-coming talent

Big smiles from a Sheffield Music Academy bassoon student
Big smiles from a Sheffield Music Academy bassoon student

Young Sheffield musicians are coming together for the first time in a festival to showcase their talents.

Sheffield Classical Youth Music Festival features students of Sheffield Music Academy and the city Music Hub.

Young performers from Sheffield Music Academy

Young performers from Sheffield Music Academy

Some concerts, including one on Saturday night (June 30), were originally part of a festival in March that was cancelled because of bad weather.

Academy general manager Jess O’Neill said it was moved from the usual Psalter Lane venue to the city centre Victoria Hall to be accessible to a wider audience.

Soloists on Saturday include violinist Alessandro Pacik, who has been with the academy for five years.

Jess said: “He’s always immaculately dressed and is a very passionate and dramatic player who always plays from memory.

“He moves about so much and to watch him just makes you cry.”

The orchestra will be playing Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings and Bizet’s Carmen Suite. Jess said that the conductor gives out cowbells for the audience to play for the Bizet piece.

The academy wind sextet will perform a Janacek piece.

Another concert tomorrow, Friday, night in the city centre Upper Chapel involves academy soloists and ensembles, who will be joined by a selected group of Music Hub performers.

Jess said that most of the senior students are moving on to study at music conservatoires and universities, or taking other subjects (maths is a favourite) and continuing their music interests alongside their studies.

Many of the alumni come back to perform at concerts.

The academy has been going for about 11 years and Jess reckons: “We never properly shout about what we do. The music hub had similar concerns. We said, ‘let’s get together to show what we do’.

“If it goes well, we’ll do it again at this time of year.”

Jess said that the academy has 120 students aged six to 18 and is one of only 15 centres of advanced learning around the UK which is funded by the Department for Education’s music and dance scheme.

The tuition starts with the youngest children coming for an hour on a Saturday to have a go on the recorder or violin.

The academy is then open to any child who auditions and is accepted on the basis that they have a love and passion for music.

Music director is violinist Martin Cropper, son of the late Peter Cropper, who did so much to put Sheffield classical music in the map, and shares his father’s ambition to communicate a love of music to others.

“Martin can see it in a child that music just runs in their veins,” said Jess.

Jess said: “We work them quite hard on the timetable with one-to-one lessons and they also play in groups.

“We have choirs and a world music group too. Most kids are with us three to four hours and the older ones come all day.”

They have bursaries to ensure that money is no obstacle for any child to study at the academy .

The music hub is primarily responsible for teaching music in schools, said Jess, taking over the role of the school music service.

“They will often place an instrument into the hands of a child for the first time. They have bands and orchestras made up from different schools,” said Jess.

The festival ends on July 2. To book free tickets, go to