Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra Blog

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.



Spam at last!
July 10, 2007, 8:46 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Did you know that our blog is protected from spam by a site called Akismet? I didn’t, until Lindy Harris slipped one past the watchful Akismet folk. In her penetrating comment about Classical in the Gardens, she directed the flagging bloggers to her stash of incredibly cheap Viagra. I have a word of advice for the retumescent Lindy, because if she had any idea how much the Botanical Gardens programme is going to take out of us, she would realise that her blandishments are likely to fall on stony ground.

Come on Akismet. You can do better: I had to delete the comment manually. Apologies to those who wanted to read it. I’m sure she’ll be back.


PS Akismet has so far blocked 133 spam comments on our Blog, so they are doing pretty well actually.

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.


SPO Web Presence
April 12, 2007, 4:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Well, that’s the new SPO Web Site up and running properly. Anyone logging on to the old site will be swiftly redirected to pastures new and I have been busily contacting friendly sites to update their links.

 Latest features include a short profile of John Pearson in time for his valedictory concert, a page of useful links to which people can feel free to suggest additions (Natalie, if you would like to mail me that list again…) and up-to-the-minute news on the Charity Botanical Gardens Gig.  All that remains is some tweaking of the metatags and a big push to increase our “Google” rankings. This is where you all come in. If members and friends could get our link: posted in as many places as possible on the web, we may even appear at the top of the search when you type “Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra” into the search engine. You never know. At the moment we’re a humiliating seventh, directy beneath our entry in some online acronym dictionary.

Pleasingly, we were linked on the BBC Radio 3 website. If anyone knows of other places where the old site was linked, let me know and I will email them:

I’m looking forward to Elijah, and wondering just exactly what it’s going to feel like after my arm drops off at the end of the forty-second movement.

Chris Lee