Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra Blog

Henryk Czyz
June 2, 2008, 2:37 pm
Filed under: Classical Music, Uncategorized

Henryk CzyzLearning that our wonderful string section were going to play a piece by Czyz, ( and on the not unreasonable assumption that some people may feel a trifle uninformed about the aforementioned composer) I hastened to glean a few gems for the blog. As usual, Wikipedia is the first stop, but Mr Czyz’s name appears in red (no article). Even Google scores a disappointing number of hits, most of which refer to someone else. So I consult a knowledgeable source who seldom lets one down. “Well” he says “Apart from being the sort of chap you want to get on a triple word score in Scrabble, I can’t tell you much, but it’s his 85th birthday the weekend of the concert”. Great! Fantastic! We’ll invite him over, put him up in the Rutland, have a party. I decide there and then to write the missing Wikipedia article. Progress is slow and so far the article is no more than a ‘stub’ ( ‘Henryk Czyz b Grudziadz 16th June 1923 d Warsaw 16th Jan 2003, (puts paid to the party idea). My puny effort does, however, refer the reader to a more helpful source from which I have extracted much of what follows and who kindly gave us permission to use their picture.

He started as a law student and then changed track and graduated in music aged 29. He studied composition and conducting, initially with the Stanislaw Moniuszko Opera and moving on to most of the prestigious Polish orchestras in turn. He established an international reputation with concerts all over the world. Two recordings deserve special mention, Raj i Peri by Robert Schumann and Krzysztof Penderecki’s St Luke Passion. He was a great champion of modern music, especially by Polish composers. His television programmes were particularly popular in this respect.

He wrote a number of books which our musical director says are wonderful. Sadly, a quick search through Amazon and would suggest that they are currently unavailable and even if you find them, they have not been translated into English (unless he wrote ‘Bistatic Radar Polarimetry – Theory & Principles!). Perhaps some ‘out of print’ translations are available through libraries.

Reading through other articles, I failed to find much more. What there is tells of a very warm, energetic and multi-talented man. A much loved teacher and champion of causes. A broadcaster and author, composer, conductor and politically active Music Union representative.  As the Polish Music Centre puts it “A Renaissance figure”.

He wrote his poignant Canzona di Barocca in 1983 and it was our privilege to give its first Sheffield performance at the Broomhill festival on June 15th.


Afterthought. Looking through the list of Czyz’s publications, I was reminded of the Polish visitor who went to have his eyes checked at SpecSavers. The optometrist indicated the penultimate row on the reading chart     c  z  w  l  b  p  d  j  z   “Can you read that?” she asked. “Of course I can” he replied “He’s my uncle”.


Business post. Newsletter.
June 2, 2008, 1:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Apologies to non-orchestra members visiting the blog, for whom this post is totally irrelevant!

Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra Newsletter






Concert season 2008/2009 – dates for your diary. Please note the change of date: the Christmas concert is now on Satuday, not Sunday.


=        Saturday   8th November, Victoria Hall, Sheffield.


       Verdi – “Nabucco” Overture
 Respighi – Ancient Airs and Dances Suite II
 Berlioz – “Harold in Italy”  Soloist: Robin Ireland

=        Saturday  13 December, Christmas family afternoon concert. St Andrew’s Church, Psalter Lane.

=        Saturday   21st March, Victoria Hall, Sheffield.

=        Saturday   13th June, Broomhill Festival at St Mark’s Church.


Programme to be confirmed. Watch this space like a hawk.




Thank you if you have already paid your sub. If you haven’t, it would be very helpful if you would give it to Natalie as soon as possible (£25 membership, £10 concessions, £5 students).


Mozart Requiem
March 22, 2008, 2:05 pm
Filed under: Classical Music, Concerts, Uncategorized

Visitors to the this blog may be interested in a performance of Mozarts Requiem (by The Escafeld Chorale and the SPO), to be performed in Sheffield on April 12th. Full details can be found on Escafeld’s website :

This is our second association with Escafeld. Ewa will be conducting the Requiem and Escafeld’s musical director, Peter Dutton, will start the concert off with 2 ‘a capella’  (whoops! they were not a capella, but were very nice anyway) pieces.

The history of the Requiem is every bit as devious and fascinating as the totally mythological account in ‘Amadeus’. Wiki gives a reasonable introduction to this extraordinary work I have to admit that some of my favourite bits seem to be those written by Sussmayr, but I suppose Mozart gave him a flying start (for example, the first 8 bars of the Lacrimosa, widely accepted to be the last music Mozart ever wrote).

Performing this work poses special challenges to an amateur orchestra, not least being the orchestration itself. The horns, oboes and flutes get a day off, but not the 3 trombones (alto, tenor and bass), who cop it for a hair raising solo in the Tuba Mirum. And where do you find 2 basset horns? Our clarinet duo were most insistent that we provide them, and they duly arrived this week. Then the orchestra will have to balance with the choir and tune in with the organ.

We confidently expect all these problems to be solved and look forward to a memorable performance, once again in St John’s Church, Ranmoor.

Easter greetings to all.


PS. Another great audience. Thanks to all for coming. See you at the Broomhill festival.

December 24, 2007, 1:50 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


This blog now has nigh on 3000 hits. The SPO wishes all our visitors a very happy Christmas and New Year. Please feel free to comment on our posts. 3000 hits and 4 comments is a poor ratio!

The Christmas concert went very well. Special thanks to Martin Lightowler who compered the programme with panache and good humour. Ewa had better look to her laurels as we seem to have found a new musical director, aged 7 (ish)!

Rehearsals for the Tchaikowsky 4 and Rachmaninov piano concerto 2 start on Tuesday 8th Jan at the Victoria Hall. This is our venue for a trial period in January and all the rehearsals will be held there. The committee appreciates that parking is tricky, especially for those with large instruments, but the venue has lots of plus points too; most notably an excellent acoustic.

Once again, new string players are welcome to come along and see if this is the right orchestra for you. We are friendly, work hard and are optimistic. It is generally agreed that the orchestra is going through an exciting phase in its development.

Seasons greetings to everyone.


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.


SPO Diary 2
August 11, 2007, 9:19 am
Filed under: News, Uncategorized

Committee members from amateur music associations will know what I am getting at when I say that during meetings there eventually comes a time when, given the option of prolonging the current discussion about interval refreshments or gnawing off your own foot, you would cheerfully opt for the latter. Only rarely do real gems lighten up the proceedings, so a recent event is worth recording.

When our much loved Musical Director decided to lay down his baton, the committee, more in hope than expectation, put out an advertisement for a successor. To our gratified surprise, the applications came pouring in; so much so that an extraordinary meeting had to be called to create a short-list. The problem facing us was that all the applicants were very good (doubly surprising and gratifying). Indeed one candidate was so well qualified that his/her expansive application could not be accommodated on the specified two sheets of A4, despite recourse to a microscopic font. Page 3 spilled over to page 4 where, with the help of a strong pair of reading glasses, one committee member detected that the applicant had helpfully included a  number of unsolicited references testifying to his/her singular musical prowess. Screwing up his eyes and holding sheet 4 to the light, another member commented that actually 2 of the 3 referees appeared to be dead. After a suitably respectful pause a third committee member (who shall remain nameless) said in her lilting Belfast accent “Well, I say, if your referees are dead, you are up a gum tree”.

This was the insight we so urgently needed. With a collective sense of relief we moved on to the next application.