Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra Blog

Recent Concert
March 12, 2008, 9:34 am
Filed under: Classical Music, Concerts

As work gets under way for Mozart’s Requiem, I think the orchestra can reflect on our recent concert at St Johns with genuine pride. As usual, it’s best to turn to outsiders for criticism, so you may care to visit the following link. Many thanks to Robert Webb at St John’s who helped us so much with this event.

It was by far the biggest audience we have had. Well, actually, that excludes the Botanic Gardens Cocert, oh and the City Hall Giltrap concert and possibly our first Christmas concert as well, but you get the general point. Feedback from the audience was positive and Ewa comments that the performance was full of energy (largely generated by her, of course). One perceptive observation was that though the energy was sustained throughout, the same could not be said about accuracy which faltered towards the end. It was certainly a tough programme to play all afternoon and then repeat in the evening and perhaps people were just getting knackered. It has been suggested that perhaps we could rehearse in the morning, allowing a longer recovery period before the performance. Comments please. (If you belong to another amateur orchestra and have found your way to this blog, please let us know how you cope with this problem; assuming you do find it a problem, of course. Click on ‘comments’ and help us out).

Despite her promotion, Ewa is anxious to keep faith with the SPO and is talking positively about next year’s programme, to include Tchaikowsy 6th in the first concert. Obviously she will have an increased committment to the Halle, but we now have an enviably good pool of guest conductors who can take rehearsals when she is not available and the future looks rosy.

Finally, I understand that the R K Rhapsody Espagnol is not going to feature in the Gardens Concert, but we will do it later in the year. Instead, we might do the whole of the New World Symphony. All of this is to be confirmed.



Girl Power: Eastern European style.
February 22, 2008, 12:12 pm
Filed under: Classical Music, Concerts, News

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Victoria Hall
November 18, 2007, 2:33 pm
Filed under: Classical Music, Concerts, Uncategorized

I suppose it is not up to an orchestral member (particularly the one one resposible for the unscheduled solo at the end of the Sibelius) to comment on our latest concert. We can leave that to others ( This concert, however, was a double ‘first’, being our first serious offering with Eva at the rostrum and our first performance in the Victoria Hall. We were fearful that parking difficulties on a cold night would put people off, but in fact we had the best audience for a while.

It was a delight to play in the newly refurbished Victoria Hall. The building is splendid and the staff were extremely helpful. Is this the best acoustic in Sheffield for concerts of this nature? I, for one, really hope we can perform there again.

Now it is back to rehearsals for the family concert at Christmas at St Andrews, Psalter Lane.

Anyone wishing to be added to our electronic mailing list should contact the secretary, We will use your address to remind you of upcoming concerts and for no other purpose.

Feedback from the last concert, and particularly about the venue would be appreciated. Just click ‘comment’ and type away. Meanwhile we are still looking for a new rehearsal venue. Ideas are urgently needed and should be sent to the secretary at the above address.


Lark Ascending, R Vaughan Williams.
November 18, 2007, 11:39 am
Filed under: Classical Music, Concerts, Podcasts, Uncategorized

Last June the leader of our second violins, Charlotte Pinder, played the Lark Ascending in Doncaster Minster as part of our musical director’s last concert with us. Charlotte writes:-



June feels like a long time ago now, but my memories of the Lark Ascending concerts are certainly ones to treasure. Playing a concerto would have been a dream come true under any circumstance, but to perform it with the orchestra that I had played in for so long was double the honour.

I knew one of the greatest challenges was going to be how to perform such a well-known work with individuality. Progress was generally a steady process – I took the piece to my lessons with Robin Ireland, and worked on it regularly with John, so gradually I felt as though I was getting to know it more intimately. Then there was the small matter of meeting Tasmin Little. I had heard her play the piece in the City Hall several years ago, needless to say, rather well. Scanning her website one day, I just thought, why not? Several emails and phone calls (and pinches) later, lesson arranged for early May. It was great – she was so helpful, both technically, and also in passing on her wealth of experience in playing this piece.

When it came to the concerts, I couldn’t understand why I felt so calm! I was so desperate to play at my best, not only for the audience, and myself but also because it was John’s last concert with us. But I felt totally ready to go for it. After all those months preparing, I fully intended to enjoy every minute, and not succumb to terrible nerves. I knew I had plenty of support in the audience and orchestra for both concerts.

I enjoyed both performances for different reasons, but there was something extra special about the atmosphere at St Marks on Saturday evening. I really want to thank everyone in the orchestra for helping to make the experience so special; for all the encouraging things they said, for accompanying me so sensitively, and simply for applauding so loudly. Having my SPO friends behind me was the icing on the cake.


Click the link below for a clip. Be patient, or go to ‘Our latest Podcast clips’ for a quicker upload. Recording courtesy Rob Goodall.


Fond Farewell, Big Hello!
June 14, 2007, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Classical Music, Concerts

Sunday and Doncaster Minster saw the final Hoorah! for John Pearson’s  time with the Phil. He gave us a concert to remember, with Charlotte Pinder wowing the audience as her Ascending Lark trilled into the stratosphere, Pyotr Ilyich blowing away the cobwebs and Delius walking us through a thoroughly enjoyable summer evening. I am persuaded that many people didn’t realise just how much they were going to miss John’s gentle good humour, faithfulness, knowedge and charm until his departure sneaked up on them. We wish him every joy in his retirement and hope that he doesn’t succumb too quickly to the lure of Emmerdale on Tuesday evenings.

Straight off the bounce from two thumping concerts at the weekend, we say Welcome! to Ewa. With five, now four rehersals to the Botanical Gardens Concert on 14th July, we’re in for a workout if Wednesday’s run-through was anything to go by. At the end of two hours reading Tchaikowsky, Borodin, Smetana et al, I felt like I was the one who had been run  through. It’s going to be a challenge, this next concert, particularly with a tough program, amplification, an audience potentially in the thousands and the great outdoors to contend with. Having a new pair of hands on the tiller will no doubt shake us up and keep us on our mettle, but every member with whom I have spoken is excited (if not a little scared) and fully up for it.


Unprecedented viola news
February 18, 2007, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Classical Music, Concerts, Uncategorized

The SPO violas


The SPO viola section is very special. We amaze our colleagues in the orchestra who have been used to seeing maybe two or three players, sawing away for dear life but virtually unheard. In fact the section was reduced to one stalwart player a few years ago. Now, in 2007, we are the largest viola section in any amateur orchestra in Sheffield and at last the SPO has a full section in its midst.


We hope they like our rich tone –  we aim for quality in our sound as well as quantity. We are all prepared to have a go at the music, and when we inevitably play some wrong notes at times we try not to let it upset the spirit of our music making.


We are very proud of our eleven players (we can even call on a twelfth if needed). To help keep the orchestral balance right, one of our viola players has been lent to the second violins temporarily.


We are not glued to our chairs for eternity but, apart from the section leader, move to different positions at the start of rehearsal sessions for each new concert. After all, the hardest place to play is at the back of a large section, so why should any of us be there all the time? I don’t think we feel the need of a hierarchy. Congratulations to the current viola section of the SPO.