Starting on Friday, Music in the Round’s May Festival around the theme of Youth and Experience features 17 concerts in nine days.
Highlights include actor Richard Wilson narrating Peter and the Wolf, the world premiere by young American composer Elizabeth Ogonek’s Royal Philharmonic Society’ commission and the UK premiere of Peter Maxwell-Davies’ Stormwatch, Stormfall.
There will also be performances by veteran baritone Sir Thomas Allen and BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award winners Mischa Macpherson Trio plus a Bach Walk with music in two churches on the Chatsworth Estate inspired by JS Bach’s musical education.
Learning and participation activities are an integral part of the festival.
Polly Ives, creative producer with Music in the Round, said: “When Angus (Smith, artistic director) suggested the theme of Youth and Experience the idea was very exciting because it’s the core responsibility of Music in the Community, our learning and participation programme.
“There is so much that could be done and we have tried to crowd in extra activity to bring it all to life.”
Concerts will include pieces written by famous composers in their teenage years. “But it doesn’t say a huge amount to youth nowadays so our task was to bring it to life and make it more engaging,” she says.
“We do work with the community all year and all round the country reaching 25,000 each year and wanted to encourage as many as possible to become involved in the festival and to add a new angle.”
For the youngest of all is Classical Babies. “They’re London musicians who perform for parents and their babies and there will be soft mats, cake and coffee and baby-appropriate instruments to bash.”
Each weekday lunchtime concert in the festival will feature alongside the established composer pieces one Powerplus composition.
Powerplus is a project run in partnership with Sheffield Music Hub and led by Robin McEwan and Ensemble 360 that inspires and engages GCSE students from schools across Sheffield.
Selected from over the 14 years the project has been running the composers, whose ages range from 28 to 16, will be there to hear their pieces performed alongside established works.
The young composers are Lizzie Cooper, Francesca Klempner, Callum Holyer, Finlay Teather and Ndumiso Ndlovi.
“On the Friday we will have a schools concert as part of the BBC’s Ten Pieces project which aims to inspire a generation of children to get creative with classical music.”
It will include Night on the Bare Mountain played by pupils from Bents Green Special School, Talbot Specialist School and Seven Hills School, who have worked in collaboration with Opera North percussionist Chris Bradley and Ensemble 360’s French horn player Naomi Atherton and funded by the Sheffield Music Hub. St Marie’s and Beck primaries are also taking part.