Sheffield Chamber Music Festival combines music and stories

The Sheffield Chamber Music Festival comes to a close this weekend with music for all ages and a focus on the works of Brahms.

By julia.armstrong1
Friday, 10 May, 2019, 17:33
Pianist Stephen Hough

Jo Towler, executive director of festival organisers Music in the Round, said: “This festival comes on the back of us realising that we were really busy in the first three months of this year. It turns out we reached 10,000 people in that time, from Carlisle to South Yorkshire and everywhere in between.

“There were 4,000 young people involved and the number of events averaged one every day and a half! Then we have this massive festival as well.”

She added: “We’ve also had one of the Crucible concerts broadcast on Radio 3, so it’s been a really good start to the year.”

Jo said that the theme of the festival has been stories, either pieces that tell a story or music that has an interesting story behind it.

On Wednesday (May 15) at 5pm, actor Henry Goodman will join Ensemble 360 to perform Wendy Cope’s witty poems The Audience, set to music by Roxanna Panufnik.

He appears at 7.15pm for a musical and poetic exchange between Clara and Robert Schumann, with works from both of them.

On Thursday night at the Crucible Studio, star pianist and composer Stephen Hough will look at the subject of death.

The works he will perform include Liszt’s Mephisto Waltzes, his own Fourth Sontata the Vida Breve, Chopin’s Sonata No 2 Funeral March and Busoni’s Berceuse Elegiaque.

Members of resident group Ensemble 360 have been able to tell their stories in special Meet the Musician concerts featuring the wind players.

Sessions include flautist Juliette Bausor on Tuesday (May 14) and horn player Naomi Atherton on Wednesday.

On Thursday at 12.45pm in the Crucible Studio, bassoon player Amy Harman is playing pieces by Britten, Panufnik and Nielsen.

A highlight of Amy’s career was performing for Birmingham Opera while perched on a trapeze above the audience. She’s staying on terra firma, though.

Clarinettist Matthew Hunt takes centre stage on Friday, at 12.45pm. He will perform works by Brahms and Mozart.

Brahms is also the subject of a round-table discussionon Friday from 2.15pm, featuring Radio 3 broadcaster Tom Service, pianist Tim Horton and academics Dr Natasha Loges and Prof Julian Horton.

They will be looking at the famously prickly composer’s contradictions and complexities.

At 5pm, Brahms’ Sextet in G is performed by Ensemble 360 and guests. It features two coded melodies, one written for composer and pianist Clara Schuman and another that alludes to singer Agathe von Siebold, to whom he was briefly engaged.

The Brahms Day concludes with Ensemble 360 performing his Viola Sonata in F minor and First Serenade and Dvorak’s American String Quartet.

On Saturday at 11.30am, Fraser Wilson and friends celebrate choral music with Songs and Stories of Albion.

Members of his choir Albion will be joined by choirs Sinsontes and Sheffield Folk Chorale, who he’s guest-directing, to take a fresh look at English folk songs such as Scarborough Fair and Greensleeves.

At 4pm, actor Matthew Bugg narrates a children’s show, Animal Antics, including Ravel’s Mother Goose, Ridout’s Ferdinand the Bull and fun animal poems. There are also children’s Concerteenies shows in the theatre’s Adelphi Room at 10.15 and 11am featuring excerpts from Schubert’s Trout Quintet.

The festival finale on Saturday night is Ensemble 360 performing Schubert’s Trout piano quintet, Sibelius’ En Saga and Mozart’s Quintet for Piano and Wind.

Box office: musicintheround.co.uk