Sheffield’s new Brigantes Orchestra gets off to a very promising start

Sheffield’s arts scene is buzzing at the moment, with exciting theatre, new venues and exhibitions, and the launch of a new orchestra was another welcome addition.

Friday, 5th April 2019, 10:23 am
Updated Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 13:36 pm
Conductor Quentin Clare, founder of the Brigantes Orchestra in Sheffield

As reported last week, freelance conductor Quentin Clare decided to create the Brigantes Orchestra when he moved to Sheffield as he was surprised that the city didn't already have a professional orchestra.

The opening concert was held in the Upper Chapel and the first version of the Brigantes was a strings-only affair, with six violins, three violas, two cellos and a double bass.

Orchestra leader is David Milsom and it was nice to see that the printed programme included the full line-up of Sheffield professional musicians joining this first venture.

The evening's programme celebrated the English Spring with music from composers ranging from the 17th to 20th centuries.

A tall, striking figure, his conducting was passionate and energetic and first piece, Henry Purcell's Suite from Abdelazer, reflected that.

The players really attacked the work, bringing in plenty of warmth, colour and vibrancy.

Edward Elgar's Serenade for Strings, Op 20, conveyed beautiful emotional depth.

Peter Warlock's Capriol Suite was clearly inspired by folk dance and music, and the orchestra really began to enjoy themselves as the first half ended.

The second half started in more sombre, reflective mood with Purcell's Three Fantasias and Frederick Delius's Two Watercolours.

The final piece, Gustav Holst's St Paul's Suite, Op 29, had us back on the dancefloor, with nods to early songs such as Greensleeves. I thought it most clearly showed the Brigantes' potential.

David Milsom's featured playing was beautiful and lyrical and the other players matched him.

An enjoyable evening and I look forward to seeing a bigger orchestra performing Beethoven's Fifth Symphony in October.

Julia Armstrong