Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra Blog

Rehearsal schedule and forthcoming programme.
October 7, 2010, 8:14 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Members of the orchestra might like to keep an eye on the rehearsal schedule which appears under the not inappropriate heading “Rehearsal schedule” in the ‘Pages’ section (see top left area of the Blog). Of course things can change but I will try to keep this up to date.

Although the programme for the rest of the year is not finalised, the following items are under serious consideration.

For the spring concert, a Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet) inspired programme to include Romeo and Juliet: Tchaikovsky and West Side Story: Bernstein.  The Broomhill concert might include a new commissioned work and Rachmaninoff  Symphony No 2 in E minor. Watch this space for further details and a programme for the family Christmas Concert (which might include Peter and the Wolf).

Finally, the orchestra is still looking for friends and sponsorship. You could sponsor a concert in memory of a loved one, or call in a favour from a friend or relative and press gang them into becoming a ‘friend’!

If anyone wants to start a thread on this Blog, drop me a line and I will post your contribution (



New to Sheffield?
September 7, 2010, 11:05 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

If you are new to Sheffield and are interested in playing with a lively, friendly and enthusiastic orchestra, please contact us. At present we could certainly accommodate a few more string players. Students are welcome. The horns and woodwind are reasonably settled, but deps and bumps are sometimes needed and brass players often join us for individual concerts. Percussion players are welcome too.

Feel free to drop me an e-mail ( and I can give you further details. We do not hold formal auditions. Players are encouraged to attend a rehearsal or two to find out if we are the right orchestra for you!


New Musical Director, Jonathan Lo, and other news.
July 20, 2010, 8:40 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Those of us who have been a few years with the orchestra will remember the time when we scratched around to find a musical director and counted ourselves extremely lucky when we did so. How times have changed. The appointments committee this year had the unenviable task of choosing between five superb candidates, any of whom would have been a wonderful asset to our band. In the end, and with a strong endorsement from the whole orchestra membership, we were delighted to ask Jonny Lo to take over the musical directorship for a three year tenure. His first job will be to plan our November concert which forms part of the Ecclesall Church Festival. Maybe we can christen their new piano. (There are rumours afoot that Benjamin Frith might play Beethoven’s 4th piano concerto, with possibly Brahms Academic Festival Overture as an opener. All TBC, of course. Now confirmed; click on ‘Concert Dates’ (above left)).

Jonny Lo is an Oxford graduate where he held a senior organ scholarship. He conducted the Oxford University Philharmonia, founded the Oxford Symphonic Band, and was musical director of the Oxford University Chorus. He was then offered a major award to undertake a Master in conducting at the RNCM where he is now studying under Clark Rundell. At Manchester he has been particularly active promoting modern music and has rehearsed and conducted compositions by a number of the students. We all wish him well and look forward to exciting new season in 2010/2011.

Dates of our forthcoming concerts are

7th Sept – 1st rehearsal of new season

6th Nov – Ecclesall Church (invitation to perform at Arts festival) Brahms: Academic Festival Overture; Beethoven: Piano concerto No 4 (Benjamin Frith); Sibelius: Symphony No 5.

11th Dec – St Andrew’s, Psalter Lane  (1pm rehearsal, 3pm concert)

12th March – St John’s Ranmoor Church

11th June – St Marks (Broomhill Festival TBC)

2 or 9th July  – Botanical Gardens – if invited TBC

The programme has yet to be finalised!

Enjoy the holiday.


Botanic Gardens Concert
July 19, 2010, 7:12 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Rehearsal for Music in the gardens

A word of thanks to the 2,500 people who supported the Rotary Club charities at this year’s Classical in the Gardens and to Jonny Lo, our guest conductor. I hope you all agree that it was a most enjoyable evening. A notable feature was the inclusion of three Italian songs, sung by Antonello Arca: a tenor who the orchestra met by chance when we visited Sardinia last year. The first two traditional songs, with a Catalan flavour, had been specially orchestrated for the occasion by Robin McEwan and Ben Hardie, from our brass section, provided the entertaining orchestration of the Neapolitan ‘Funiculi Funicula’.  Following an eventful flight in Argentina, Antonello has developed a deep distaste for this mode of transport and came to Sheffield by bus. He gave his services free of charge. The songs can be found on YouTube, recorded with a hand held mini camera, but none the worse for that. Thanks Steve!


Recent Concert: St Marks, Broomhill Festival
June 15, 2010, 4:57 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It was nice to receive a review of our recent concert from Andrew Calow (whose incredibly useful Website has now unfortunately closed down). Here it is.

For once it seemed that word had got through to the public of Sheffield that the SPO under EwaStrusinska were a force to be reckoned with. I write were, because Ewa has now moved on leaving behind an orchestra in far better shape and self belief than the one she found back in 2007. Certainly, I don’t think I’ve seen St Mark’s so full for an SPO concert. Some might attribute this to the presence ofthe violin soloist Keith Ramsell returning to his former haunts and bringing along some of his family. Others were drawn by the sad fact that this was Ewa’s final concert with the SPO. The concert opened with the Outdoor Overture by Aaron Copland. (Since this piece will also be played in the Botanical Gardens concert on July 3rd, I will refrain from commenting.) This was followed by one of the giants of the violin concerto repertoire, the concerto by Khachaturian, played by the work’s first British player Keith Ramsell. It was a performance to enjoy with measured accompaniment showing off the not inconsiderable violin part. Certainly Keith Ramsell enjoyed himself, even playing a Bach piece as an encore.

After the interval we had a brief excursion into music of the 19th Century with Elgar’s Salut d’amour before returning to the 20th Century for that composer’s Sospiri written to mark the loss of a dear friend – highly appropriate under the circumstances.

The final work in the concert was Respighi’s Pines of Rome.In the quieter passages Ewa brought in a lightness of touch giving delicate  subtlety to the work with Roberto Meoni’s clarinet prominent. The work closes with a vivid depiction of a Roman General bringing his legion home after a tour of duty taming the provincial barbarian hordes. The orchestra achieved such a level of volume that some feared for the fabric of the building (it’s no wonder so many Roman buildings are in ruins). Special mention must be made of the brass section, but here was an orchestra playing its heart out for a much loved conductor.

It was a highly emotional night. We wish Ewa and Pawel all the best for the future. To close the Roman theme:

Illa venit, vidit, vicit.
She came, she saw, she conquered..

Parking Norfolk Street
April 2, 2010, 7:34 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Once again, there are now further parking restrictions in the Vic hall area, as if the extortionate increase in costs of the underground park was not enough. A visit to Sheffield theatres now poses quite serious logistic problems and it is even worse for orchestra members with bulky instruments. The tempting ‘loading only” bays are attracting tickets (Igot one the other day) even though they are never used for loading at that time of night. It seems that the council are not bothered about the use of valuable town centre facilities in the evenings, which is odd because I find that in many other areas their parking and traffic strategy is intelligent and helpful.

If you want to complain, add a comment here and we can make a concerted response.


Christmas Concert
January 16, 2010, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Perhaps it is a shade late to reflect on the Christmas concert, but in many ways it deserves reflection. The excellent program was hastily assembled, rehearsed and performed, yet it came across very well. Enormous credit must go to Juan Ortuno for this, not to mention his charm and wit when introducing the pieces; he had the audience eating out of his hand. A number of superb ‘outside’ players joined in, filling key roles. Without exception they gave their services free of charge and it seems that they really enjoyed playing. So once again thanks and cograts to Pete and Juan. Then there was the best attendance of any Christmas concert since our first, with a large proportion of children who seemed very much involved, even if they played a few games during Bolero. Martin Lightowler was an exceptional narrator in the Snowman and our treble from St John’s, Mark Brown, walked in the air with aplomb. Finally, this was our first concert to receive sponsorship in celebration of an individual: in this case, Oliver Ronca, a Sheffield Hallam graduate in art whose life was tragically cut short two years ago. His parents attended the concert which they thought was wonderful, and commented that we had ‘done him proud’. Hopefully we can attract similar sponsorship for future events.

The friends and relatives of Oliver want to thank the SPO for a memorable, fitting and joyful occasion.