Clarinettist Sergio Castello Lopez celebrates start of Sheffield's new Halle Orchestra concert season

The Halle Orchestra returns to the Sheffield City Hall stage this weekend and one of its principal players talks about the prospect.

Sunday, 15th September 2019, 1:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 2:22 pm
The Halle Orchestra's principal clarinettist, Sergio Castello Lopez

Principal clarinettist Sergio Castelló López was born in Spain in 1994.

He has worked as a guest player with several orchestras and in 2015 became principal clarinet at the Limoges Opera in France, taking on the same role for the Hallé a year later.

Here, Sergio answers some questions about his music and the new season.

Can you tell us how you came to join the Halle?

I wasn't familiar at all with Manchester or the Hallé until I was actually on trial with them. I remember the first time I heard the orchestra was on the first day of my trial. It was Mendelssohn's Italian symphony with Andrew Manze. The way the orchestra sounded really blew my mind. I remember thinking: how is it possible that this orchestra is here and I didn't know about it until now?!? I remember thinking it would be incredible to be a part of it and to be making music with them every day.

What do you especially like about the orchestra's approach to performance?

That everyone is listening to everyone else's playing. That allows the concerts to be very spontaneous and fresh, to me that's one of the most enjoyable things about playing in the orchestra.

Which are your favourite clarinet pieces and why?

Probably the clarinet quintets by Brahms and Mozart. I love playing chamber music and these two pieces are simply incredible. They're very well written for the instrument and they give you a lot of opportunities to be very expressive in different ways.

Do you listen to or play any other styles of music?

To be honest not really! I listen mostly to classical music but almost never clarinet repertoire, that'd be way too much clarinet in my life! I like listening to jazz to chill, I often listen to a Bill Evans' trio playlist in particular. Otherwise I just turn the radio on and listen to whatever is being played at the moment. I'm definitely not one of those people who sometimes need silence. I'm always listening to music: in the street, when I'm travelling, at home, even on the background while I'm watching TV I like to have some music on!

Which Sheffield concerts are you most looking forward to?

Right at the start of the season we'll be playing Shostakovich 5th Symphony, which I'm looking forward to. I'm also excited for later on in this season when we'll be back to play Sibelius 1st and Tchaikovsky 5th symphonies. All of these are pieces that I really enjoy playing so I'm looking forward to them!

What do you think of the City Hall as a performance space?

It's not as ‘boomy’ as the Bridgewater Hall but the sound is cleaner, you can hear the details in the orchestra's playing. From the point of view of playing in the orchestra this is great as well because it makes it easier to match your colleagues’ playing.

Have you had a chance to explore the city?

Not really, unfortunately! I've only been when the orchestra was playing so there hasn't been much time to explore. The only bit I know is what is around the Hall and I like it so... so far so good! I'm sure I'll have many more chances to get to know the city better in the future.

*Young Finnish conductor Klaus Mäkelä takes the baton to begin the new Sheffield International Concert Season on Saturday (September 21) for a programme of Beethoven and Shostakovich and will be joined by award-winning pianist Vikingur Ólafsson.

Ahead of the main programme, Sergio and pianist Jim Muirhead appear at 6.30pm for the first-ever informal SICS Session and at 6pm there's a pre-concert talk by Geoffrey Owen of the Halle. Both are free to all ticket-holders.

For bookings and information about the new season, go online to