Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra Blog

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
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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.


Ave Maria at Porto Conte. Antonello Arca.
January 12, 2010, 3:02 pm
Filed under: Classical Music, Concerts, Links, Uncategorized

Thanks to Steve and Julia for this offering. The open air concert at Porto Conte, Sardinia was notable mainly for the contribution of the cicadas. Surprisingly, they blended in reasonably well once you had got used to them!

Antonello Arca is a tenor in the true Italian tradition, and it was an unexpected privilege to accompany him in this beautiful version of Ave Maria, hastily orchestrated three days previously. It is notable that he sang it in Algherese, closely related to Catalan. To view the video just click on the red text below.

Please encourage others to visit this link.


Ave Maria
plena de grassias
nostru Sagnor
es ama tu
i benaira ses Tu
mes de tottas las donas
i benaitu sighi lu fil tou Jesus

Santa Maria
Mara de Deu
prega pels probas
peccarol che t’adoran
ora y nell’ora
della molt nostra

As a postscript, I note the words are ‘ by’  Mario Salvietti and the music by Isabella Montanari. Listen to another extraordinary version here:-

Newsletter September 2009
September 18, 2009, 10:20 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Apologies to visitors to our blog for using it as an information service for our members. It’s just so convenient to do it this way. If you are not an orchestral member, this post is of little interest!

Newsletter September 2009

Welcome back to the new year for our orchestra; We hope you had an excellent Christmas and are looking forward to some wonderful music making in the coming months.

12th June 2010 St Mark’s

Elgar: Sospiri and Salut d’Amor

Copland: Outdoor Overture

Khachaturian: Violin Concerto – soloist Keith Ramsall

Respighi: Pines of Rome

July 3rd: Sheffield Botanic Gardens. A programme of popular music by Beethoven, Elgar, Brahms, Ginastera, Denza and many others, featuring Sardinian tenor Antonello Arca and a guest conductor to be announced. “Music in the Gardens”, organised by Sheffield Rotary Club on behalf of the Rotary Club Charities. Bring a picnic! Visit

New Musical Director. Sadly, Ewa Strusinska will be leaving us at the end of the season nor will she be able to conduct the Christmas Concert. I think we all consider ourselves enormously privileged to have worked under her baton. She has stayed with us a year longer than her contract and it is time for her to move on to other things. The Committee is now starting the process of appointing her successor and we will be contacting a number of individuals to see if they are interested. We will also be asking contacts at the RNCM and elsewhere for recommendations.

The choice of a new musical director is crucial, and is a matter for the whole orchestra, not just the committee. We are actively seeking comments and suggestions from everyone; for instance, have you been particularly impressed by anyone who has taken sectional rehearsals or rehearsed us when Ewa was unavailable? Members of the Orchestra will be kept informed at all stages of this process.

“Opt-in” form for Concerts.

Some people come to rehearsals but, for perfectly valid reasons, may not be able to play in the actual concert. This is fine, but it would be very helpful if we knew the forces who are definitely committed to playing so that any ‘holes’ can be plugged. To this end, a form will be circulated during rehearsals on which players will sign up for the concert. It will be the responsibility of section heads to see that their players sign up. We hope this is not viewed as a bureaucratic waste of time. Knowing who is going to play, in advance, will be very useful.

Blog. We try to keep the blog up to date. Please feel free to comment using the ‘comments’ button at the end of each post. If you want to post something yourself, e-mail ( who will tell you how to do it, or post it for you. D.O  will be adding to the photostream of pictures from the highly enjoyable Sardinia trip over the next couple of weeks. The blog can be accessed on (add it to your favourites!)

Concert Season 2009/2010
August 29, 2009, 10:08 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

ben_150_150x180Welcome to the new concert season. The dates and venues are as follows :- 14th Nov – Victoria Hall, 12th Dec – St Andrew’s Psalter Lane, 13th March either Vic Hall or St Marie’s RC cathedral (more to follow on this!), 12th June – St Mark’s. We will be playing, in the Novemeber concert, Lutoslawski: Little suite, Dvorak Cello Concerto (Ben Gregor Smith) and Schumann symphony 4. I don’t have a definite programme for the other concerts yet, but it is rumoured that Respighi: Pines Of Rome may be on the cards (what do you think, Pete?!!!!!)

More soon…..


Sardinia 2009 SPO
August 29, 2009, 9:48 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Sardinia 2009 SPO, originally uploaded by

A short post to thank everyone for making the Sardinia trip such an enjoyable occasion, especially to Robin McEwan who coaxed a very acceptable sound (according to our enthusiastic audiences) from what turned out to be an unusually hybrid orchestra. I also want to thank our visiting musicians, Nikos, Alan, Emily, Joy, Llinos, Angiolo and the Sardinians, Alessio, Theresa, Mattia, Antonello and Inaria.
An enormous thankyou to Robert Meoni who played so beautifully in both concerts and whose phone conversations to Alghero were the catalyst for getting the trip off the ground.
Finally, once again, I cannot find thanks enough for Silvana Pinna, Uccio Oppes (from the Istituto Artistico e Musicale Giuseppe Verdi) and Signor Usai from the Parco Naturale di Porto Conte for their amazing generosity with their time, entertainment and hospitality.
Orchestra members might like to hear that we have been invited back to play again, this time in some ancient Nuraghic remains; what do you think.
If people send me their best photos, I can upload them onto the Flickr photostream and you can view them from the blog by clicking ‘more photos’ at the bottom (sorry that some extraneous pictures from our wedding seem to have found their way there, but two orchestra members did play on that occasion)
David and Catherine

Interested in playing with the SPO?
August 29, 2009, 9:10 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

If you are new to Sheffield and would like to play with the SPO, you are very welcome to contact us. At the moment, the woodwind and horns are pretty much sorted, but we are always keen to know of players who are happy to deputise, or join us for “one off” occasions. String players are always welcome. The best way to find out if we are the right orchestra for you is to attend a rehearsal or two. We rehearse at 7:30 every tuesday (starting September 1st) in the Vicoria hall (opposite back entrance to the Crucible in Norfolk St). Full members pay (very modest) subs, but visitors are excused!

We are a friendly orchestra who aspire to play to a high standard, whilst not forgetting that we are mainly amateurs and play for the love of it. The general standard is grade 6 and up, but this is only a rough guide (some of our players are  strong and are very supportive of those, like me, who are less talented!). We have a wonderful musical director. Several of us with cars are happy to transport people home if they don’t live too far away.

If you want more details send me an e-mail,, and I will respond promptly.