GUEST POST: chamber music, beer, samosas, cake & festivals

Euan Murdoch recently returned from travelling Around the World in 60 Days having met some inspiring people along the way. While in Sheffield he met the people behind Music in the Round and learnt about some of their guiding principles.

The relationships forged overseas have continued to grow and Deborah Chadbourn, Executive Director, of Music in the Round was only too happy to share all the things they have been celebrating this year…


Deborah Chadbourn, Executive Director of Music in the Round

Deborah Chadbourn, Executive Director of Music in the Round

It was great to have Euan stop off in Sheffield for a visit and plenty of stimulating conversation. But what a shame he couldn’t be here in Sheffield for our May Festival! This year we had an extraordinary variety of music in all sorts of unusual spaces during a full-on nine days. Like all the people and organisations Euan encountered on his travels, Music in the Round works creatively to engage with those who already love chamber music and also with others for whom it is a new experience. The festival is the highlight of our year and the idea is to get completely immersed in music. There was a lot of celebratory cake this year too!

We celebrated two centenaries: Britten’s of course, but also, in an unlikely but compelling pairing, the 100th anniversary of the discovery of stainless steel (an important event for Sheffield and for the world). We highlighted this with an adventurous, [and sold-out,] evening of film and music which we developed in partnership with our neighbours the Showroom Cinema, one of Europe’s largest independent cinemas. The programme comprised a new piece by our Associate Composer Charlie Piper, With Stolen Fire, which was set to film footage from the BFI archive; a newly commissioned film from artist Katie Goodwin screened alongside a performance of Britten’s Six Metamorphoses after Ovid for oboe played by the wonderful Adrian Wilson, member of our resident group Ensemble 360; a screening of the 1930s GPO film The Way to the Sea with its score by Britten; and Britten’s Sinfonietta. As well as packing out the Showroom (where we were really pleased to see many new faces), we also live-streamed the event online – a first for us.

Ensemble 360

On the following day we took over the local industrial museum at Kelham Island for a day of workshops, a Bring and Play with a large ensemble of local players of all ages who really enjoyed combining with Ensemble 360’s string quartet, lots of local bands and musicians, an afternoon concert and free beer-tasting! Who’d have thought that chamber music and beer would go so well together?

In amongst the excitement of the fabulous festival a small group of us including Matthew Hunt, Juliette Bausor & Adrian Wilson from Ensemble 360 travelled to London to receive the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Award for Chamber Music & Song for outstanding achievement in 2012! We were commended for working ‘indefatigably to create imaginative and eclectic programming….an exemplary model of working’. I know that there was great excitement back in Sheffield as the news broke on social media and filtered through to our Studio audience during the interval of the evening’s concert!

Back then to Sheffield for concerts that included a haunting recital by John Mark Ainsley and Ensemble 360, Walton’s extraordinary Piano Quartet in D Minor, a quartet for tabla and strings by Kuljit Bhamra (complete with delicious samosas), a lively Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, and a fantastic ‘Not the Last Night of the Proms’ with new arrangements by Charlie Piper of a number of well-known Proms favourites.

It’s going to be a hard act to follow, and in the meantime we have our Autumn and Spring series, the development of our learning and participation team, a conference, and three new commissions to premiere: and all with another possible round of funding cuts on the horizon. There’s never a dull moment at Music in the Round!

– Deborah, 01/06/2013

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