Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra Blog

On-line ticket sales.
October 14, 2010, 7:49 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Tickets for the next concert are available on-line. Please click on the appropriate link in the ‘Pages’ section (top left area of the Blog). See you all there.



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

Sheffield: City of Culture but no Concert Hall!
April 2, 2010, 8:17 am
Filed under: Classical Music

Browsing the web this morning I came across the following two pages and Well done Sheffield for being shortlisted for UK City of culture 2013 (along with Norwich, Birmingham and Derry). Sheffield certainly has masses to offer and full marks to Paul Scriven and Sylvia Dunkley for getting us this far.

Sheffield is blessed with a vibrant popular music scene, and an international reputation for its festivals of classical chamber music but, almost incredibly, no professional orchestra and no concert hall (the two go hand in hand). There is no shortage of amateur music making. Indeed there can be few cities with so many amateur orchestras, choral societies, opera companies and every other possible musical interest and the simple fact that they survive tells us all we need to know; BUT, once again, no professsional orchestra and no concert hall. The City Hall, despite its refurbishment, is an acoustic joke and too big. It simply wont do. Sheffield needs, and should demand, a truly modern hall along the lines of the Birmingham Symphony Hall, Gateshead’s ‘Sage’, or Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall. There is no need to match the capacities of these iconic buildings (2,200 and 1,800 respectively), 800 seats would do nicely, but in terms of facilities and quality these should be our inspiration.

There is a huge amount of new development around the Moor and other city centre sites The time has come to plan and build Britain’s  finest concert hall in Sheffield, UK City of culture 2013! Nothing ventured, nothing gained.


Postscript: Quotation from the Sheffield City of Culture website:- “1. International: we will develop a programme of international quality, scale and profile. We will attract international artists, organisations and creative businesses to create and make in the city. We will combine large-scale events with far-reaching education programmes….”  To my mind, ‘international scale’ must include a modern concert venue: and do look at the Bridgewater’s site for news of their excellent ‘far-reaching education programme’.

Post postscript. Congratulations to Derry and commiserations to Sheffield on the final result.