In 2008 Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus announced that actor and director Samuel West had agreed to become the society’s Patron.
Speaking on behalf of Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus, Julie Smethurst who was the Chorus Chair at that time, said: “We are absolutely delighted and honoured that Sam has agreed to be our Patron, especially as we have already done some work with him. He has a very positive connection with Sheffield stemming from his job as Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres, and his Patronage will really help the Chorus as it seeks to raise its profile. We very much hope that there may be future opportunities to work with Sam again, and that he will enjoy sharing this most exciting artistic relationship with us.’
Samuel was Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres from 2005 to 2007 programming two hugely successful seasons of work which included acting with his father, Timothy West, transferring As You Like It, which he directed, to the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, and bringing to Sheffield such eminent artists as Harold Pinter, Jonathan Miller and Joanna Lumley.
During his time in Sheffield Samuel forged many links with schools and other organisations in the city. The Chorus is thrilled to have Samuel as their Patron, knowing of his interest in the arts in the widest of senses and his commitment to Sheffield when he lived here for three years.
Since leaving Sheffield Samuel has directed an extremely successful production of Patrick Marber’s play Dealer’s Choice, and performed at the Donmar Warehouse in Pinter’s Betrayal. As well as his acclaimed talents as both actor and director, Samuel is also much sought-after as a narrator of television documentaries, including the highly commended series The Nazis: A Warning from History, A History of Britain and The Private Life of a Masterpiece. On radio he has voiced a range of programmes from one off radio dramas and serials to recitations of poetry. In 2006 he narrated the BBC Radio 4 production of A Passage to India.
Sam has made a speciality of appearing in concert recitals: he performed the spoken lines from Walton’s Henry V at the Last Night of the Proms in 2002, a performance repeated later that year at Sheffield City Hall with the Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus. He has also recorded this work with Leonard Slatkin and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Other recitations include Walton’s Façade, Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, Prokofiev’s Eugene Oneginand Schoenberg’s Ode to Napoleon.
Unknown to many, Sam himself is a choral singer. He participated in the May 2006 Choir of London tour to Jerusalem and the West Bank, where he also gave poetry readings as part of the concert programme. In April 2007 he again joined the Choir of London in their tour of Palestine, also directing The Magic Flute.
Commenting on his role of Patron of the Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus, Sam said “Sheffield is a place with a proud history of choral singing. As a fan of the city, as a past collaborator with the choir who hopes to work with them again, and as a human being who believes that singing great music together makes life better, I’m delighted to become Patron of the Philharmonic Chorus.”
Chorus Master, Darius Battiwalla, said, “As a Chorus we are continuingly striving for artistic excellence, a quality that Sam is well-known for in the arts world. To be associated with him as our Patron (is) a great privilege.”