Tis the season…….

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Sheffield Telegraph

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus are determined that this year will be no different.  To ensure their customary seasonal cheer endures, they have had to be rather inventive, since their usual joyous concert with over two-hundred musicians on stage and thousand-strong audiences at Sheffield’s City Hall, would certainly not comply with the current social distancing guidelines.

“When I was asked to present the Chorus’s Christmas Carol Concert this December, I admit, I was rather surprised, especially when I heard it would still include over a hundred voices and the full Black Dyke Band”, explained the choir’s new Patron Petroc Trelawny. One of the best known voices on BBC Radio 3 and with over 17 years introducing the BBC Proms, Petroc joined as a Patron earlier in the year, and had been due to present the choir’s annual carol concert at the City Hall, now abandoned due to coronavirus restrictions. ‘The choir’s carol concert in Sheffield has kicked-off my Christmas for a few years now, and I’m absolutely delighted to become their Patron – and to be able to join in the festivities again by recording a contribution from home’.

Like so many musicians, Chorus members and the Black Dyke Band have had to get to grips with technology, and were tasked by the choir’s Music Director, Darius Battiwalla, to record themselves singing and playing, so a virtual choir and band could be created.  It’s obviously taken a bit of getting used to, but they do seem to have risen to the challenge remarkably well. 

Discussing the singers, “It’s actually rather fitting now I think about it” remarked Petroc. As presenter for the concert, he was particularly talking about one of the pieces specially commissioned for the choir’s first YouTube broadcast – a new version of the 16th century carol Resonet in Laudibus, arranged for brass band and chorus by Darius.  “In past centuries, people would have gathered in kitchens and round fireplaces to make music together, singing festive carols during dark evenings, so 2020 is just a high-tech version of some of the old traditions”. 

“We are absolutely thrilled that Petroc is now to be one of our Patrons.  As a prominent radio presenter of great experience, I’m sure a good number of us could have done with a few tips about recording techniques” quipped Rachel Copley, President of the Chorus, rather dryly. “But more seriously, this year, more than ever, we need to ensure we bring light and joy into people’s homes.  We’ve all been keen to take on the steep learning curve needed to ensure we can still present quality music now, and be ready to perform again live when we all come back together in 2021.”

Link to article in the Sheffield Telegraph Tuesday 15 December 2020

Listen to the virtual carol concert

Previous News Items

Tuesday 15 December 2020 ‘Tis the season…..

20 October 2020 Chorus CD tops the charts!

21 July 2020 Music Director gives on-line recital for Yorkshire Day

21 July 2020 lockdown performance of Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus music director’s new arrangement for Handel’s Messiah

6 July 2020 Music Director’s beautiful Messiah arrangement

28 June 2020 Chorus starts on-line rehearsals

18 June 2020 Music Director joins choral greats in highlighting challenges faced by choirs

16 June 2020 The Guardian – Covid-19 has silences choirs

18 May 2020 Chorus supports its locked-down musicians

23 March 2020 Concerts postponed and rehearsals cancelled

2 February 2020 Chorus to sing Messiah with French and German visitors


17 December 2019 REVIEW: Sheffield’s Christmas concert tradition

16 December 2019 Carol wins Classic FM competition

15 December 2019 Sheffield Telegraph – Chorus in finals of national carol competition

14 November 2019 REVIEW – ‘Beautifully and intricately rendered by the choir’

8 November 2019 Bring a Man Night

2 November 2019 Chorus to present Bochum gift to Lord Mayor

22 October 2019 Chorus feature on Black Dyke Band CD

28 September 2019 Chorus kicks off BBC Music Day

23 Sept 2019 Chorus kick off BBC Music Day on Fargate

12 June 2019 REVIEW Holy Face Sheffield Telegraph


07 April 2019 Bach’s compendium; SPC /Royal Northern Sinfonia, City Hall

14 March 2019 Women centre stage – Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus /Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, City Hall

5 Feb 2019 Press release from Bochum, Germany: Mayor Erika Stahl receives Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus

1 Feb 2019 Chorus members sing Messiah in Germany


28 Dec New Year’s Honour for local choir President

13 Dec 2018 Chorus Hat trick

6 Dec 2018 Excellent programme from the Chorus

26 Oct 2018 Composer thrilled with recording

28 July 2018 Yorkshire Post celebrates publication of 1911 World Tour Book

23 July 2018 Chorus members sing in France during World Cup

20 July 2018 Tour de France for Sheffield Choir

03 July 2018 Chorus prepares to deliver French mini tour

14 June 2018 Up Close and Personal

11 June 2018 Audience thrilled by Rossini and original Mustel harmonium

31 May 2018 Chorus and harmonium in perfect harmony

11 May 2018 ‘Outstanding’ – Chorus ends Mahler tour on high note

30 April 2018  Review: Bruckner Orchester Linz, Usher Hall, Edinburgh, four stars

30 April 2018 Chorus sing a ‘blazing’ Mahler 2 in Edinburgh

29 April 2018 ‘Assertive Mahler’ Simon Thompson, Seen and Heard International

12 Feb 2018 Chorus sings with Sheffield mezzo soprano

3 Feb 2018 World premiere ‘an emotive journey’

12 Jan 2018 Chorus on journey to Paradise


11 Dec 2017 Calypso Carol on Classic FM

15 Oct 2017 Composer thrilled with premiere of his new work

3 July 2017 Chorus records new CD

6 April 2017 Stairs? No problem!

24 April 2017 Open Letter from the Chair: The relevance of classical music.

20 March 2017 It’s a fact – Singing is good for you!


16 May 2016 140th birthday celebrations

16 Feb 2016 What’s your ‘Fantasy Concert’?

18 Oct 2015 Sisters Steal Away

15 May 2015 Now on sale: ‘Awake, Arise! A Yorkshire Christmas Collection for Brass and Voices‘, our exciting CD of Christmas music

18 Feb 2013 Rachmaninov – will Chorus be reaching for the vodka?

8 Oct 2012 Free choral workshops and a welcome return for Handel’s Messiah

8 Aug 2012 Free choral workshops and a year full of singing

17 June 2012 Olympic Dreams – Will it be Singin’ in The Rain or Mr Blue Skies?

16 Apr 2012 Contemporary composers take centre stage

16 Apr 2012 New community links in Sheffield

3 April 2012 Bronte Mass ‘impressive’

12 Feb 2012 Alight: Eclectic music lines up to take centre stage as part of the Cultural Olympiad

13 Jan 2012 Scaling The Heights – Singclude Breaks Down Barriers For Disabled Singers

24 Feb 2011 Three-fold choral debut

22 Nov 2010 Songs of Praise – Chorus celebrate 75th Anniversary year with audience of over 2 million

28 Oct 2010 The Dream of Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus


Music Director gives on-line recital for Yorkshire Day

Friday 31 July 2020

To celebrate Yorkshire Day 2020, East Leeds FM radio / Chapel FM Arts Centre will broadcast a special programme live from Leeds Town Hall on Saturday 1 August from 12 noon.

The programme will include a special concert by Chorus Music Director and Leeds City Organist Darius Battiwalla, on the Town Hall’s magnificent organ.

This will be the first live performance at the Town Hall since the Coronavirus Lock-down – though obviously with no live audience. 

Darius’s Yorkshire Day programme features music which has been written by composers with a direct link to Yorkshire and will include an interview with composer Philip Wilby, whose oratorio The Holy Face was performed by the Chorus a few years ago.

Darius will introduce the pieces as he would normally do in his much-loved Monday lunchtime organ concerts at Leeds Town Hall.

Click here to read more and to listen to the broadcast.

Complaints Policy

Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus (the Chorus) is committed to working in an open and accountable way that builds trust and respect. We view complaints as an opportunity to learn and improve, as well as a chance to put things right for the person or organisation that made the complaint. Therefore we aim to ensure that:

  • making a complaint is as easy as possible;
  • we deal with complaints promptly, politely and, when appropriate, confidentially;
  • we respond in the right way – for example, with an explanation, or an apology where we have got things wrong, and information on any action taken;
  • we learn from complaints, use them to improve, and review annually our complaints policy and procedures.

We recognise that a complaint is any expression of dissatisfaction that relates to the Chorus and that requires a formal response.

All complaint information will be handled sensitively, telling only those who need to know and following any relevant data protection requirements.

However the circumstances may be such that it may not be possible to maintain confidentiality, in which case the situation will be explained to the complainant.

We are not able to respond to anonymous complaints, and we are unable to deal with matters for which we are not directly responsible. In such instances we will refer you to the appropriate person or organisation.

Informal Procedure

  • Many concerns will be raised informally and can be made verbally, by telephone, by email or in writing.
  • We aim to resolve informal concerns quickly, keeping matters low-key while addressing the issue.

Formal Complaints Procedure

If concerns cannot be satisfactorily resolved informally, then the formal complaints procedure should be followed. This is intended to ensure that all complaints are handled fairly, consistently and wherever possible resolved to the complainant’s satisfaction.

How to make the complaint

How Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus will respond

  • The Chorus will acknowledge the complaint in writing within 2 weeks.
  • Our aim is to resolve all matters as quickly as possible, so you should get a response and an explanation within 4 weeks.
  • However, some issues will be more complex and therefore may require longer to be fully investigated. If a matter requires more detailed investigation, you will receive an interim response describing what is being done to deal with the matter, and when a full reply can be expected and from whom.
  • Whether the complaint is justified or not, our final reply will outline the action we took to investigate the complaint, our conclusions, and any action we will take to resolve the problem and to make sure it doesn’t happen again

What to do if you are not satisfied

If you are not satisfied with our response, you can refer the matter to one of the following regulators:

  • The Fundraising Regulator – for complaints about fundraising methods.
  • The Advertising Standards Authority – for complaints about misleading or offensive advertising.
  • The Charity Commission – for complaints about Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus losing lots of money, harming people, using funds for personal profit or being involved in illegal activity.

This policy was approved by Trustees in October 2019

Lockdown performance of new arrangement for Handel’s Messiah

Julia Armstrong, Sheffield Telegraph

Tuesday 21 July 2020

A Sheffield choir music director has been busy over lockdown, writing a new brass arrangement for Handel’s Messiah which world-famed musicians performed in their homes.

The arrangement by Darius Battiwalla of the soprano aria How Beautiful Are the Feet is actually one of three from the Messiah that he put together for Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus.

“Darius wrote the new arrangements for us in return for continued payment during the lockdown,” said chorus chair Paul Henstridge.

“We’re absolutely thrilled. It means that when we eventually perform the brass version with the wonderful Black Dyke Band, we can sing two more choruses than would otherwise have been possible”.

The chorus were set to perform a brass version of Messiah in April but the concert had to be postponed.

Soprano Catrin Pryce-Jones was to have appeared alongside the chorus, so she was delighted when Darius asked her to make a virtual recording of How Beautiful Are the Feet, along with members of the world-famous Black Dyke Band, all performing from their own homes during lockdown.

“The new arrangement is very light and delicate, which is just right for this aria,” said chorus dministrator Anne Adams. “Catrin sings it beautifully and the band accompany her with great sensitivity.”

You can judge for yourself, as the recording has been uploaded to the chorus website and can be enjoyed for free at

In addition to the new Messiah arrangements, the chorus also commissioned Darius to write some Christmas music for them to sing at their popular annual carol concert at the City Hall in December.

He has created a new brass arrangement of Resonet in Laudibus, a 16th-century German carol. If that concert can’t go ahead, they plan to perform it virtually as part of an online carol concert, along with the Black Dyke Band, again recorded from their own homes.

The brass Messiah concert has been rescheduled for Saturday, April 23, 2022 in Sheffield City Hall. The 180 members of the chorus were going to be joined by more than 50 singers from Perigeux in France and from Sheffield’s twin city of Bochum in Germany.Happily, both choirs are planning to cross the Channel for the rescheduled concert.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Read the original article on the Sheffield Telegraph website

Chorus starts on-line rehearsals

28 June 2020

The Chorus will start on-line rehearsals on Tuesday 30 June 2020. Music Director, Darius Battiwalla, accompanist Rachel Fright and Voice Coach Maggie McDonald will lead the Chorus in rehearsing Handel’s Messiah and Rachmaninov’s Vespers.

“We are not going to let the coronavirus stop us from singing, and if on-line is currently the only way, then on-line it will be” said Chorus Chair Psaul Henstridge. ” A small number of us had a trial run last week, which went very well, and we’re very much looking forward to getting everyone together for the first time since the lock-down”

Music Director Darius Battiwalla was one of eighteen signatories to a letter ‘Covid-19 has silenced choirs – we must find a way to restart singing together‘, published in the Guardian recently.  Composer/conductors Bob Chilcott and John Rutter joined Harry Christophers, founder of The Sixteen, opera singer Sarah Connelly and internationally-renowned choral directors Simon Halsey and David Hill, asking the Government “to show how we can restart singing together on an equal footing with opening theme parks, shopping and kicking a football around. It is imperative that we find a way for choirs in this country to resume as soon and as safely as we can.”

Mr. Battiwalla was extremely keen to start rehearsing in some form or other, rather than waiting until Government advice enables choirs to get together and sing as they did before the pandemic. He has worked with accompanist Rachel Fright, Voice Coach Maggie McDonald and the Chorus committee to find a way to re-commence rehearsals virtually, with advice from other large symphonic choirs who are already running on-line rehearsals.

“Colleagues from Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, which has been rehearsing online for some weeks, have been very helpful” said Music Director Darius Battiwalla. “We know it will be a different experience, but we are determined to do everything we can to continue with our music making.”

The Chorus will rehearse Messiah simply because members already have their own scores, but will also make a start on the beautiful Rachmaninov Vespers, which they hope to be able to perform in Sheffield cathedral next May.

Music Director joins choral greats in highlighting challenges faced by choirs

18 June 2020

‘Singing in a choir …… is a powerful expression of our culture and humanity, and it cannot be allowed to fade away.’

The Chorus Music Director, Darius Battiwalla, is one of a group of ‘choral greats’ whose powerful letter to the Guardian was published on Tuesday 16 June 2020.

The letter, ‘Covid-19 has silenced choirs – we must find a way to restart singing together‘, has eighteen co-signatories, including some of the most highly respected and influential names in the world of choral music.

Composer/conductors Bob Chilcott and John Rutter joined Harry Christophers, founder of The Sixteen, opera singer Sarah Connelly and internationally-renowned choral directors Simon Halsey and David Hill, are among those who have written in response to the open letter by Sir Simon Rattle and Sir Mark Elder on 10 June about the immense challenges faced by musicians. 

We are writing in response to the heartfelt letter on behalf of classical music and musicians from Sir Simon Rattle and Sir Mark Elder (UK orchestras may not survive coronavirus pandemic, conductors warn, 10 June), to give voice to the millions of people who sing in choirs in this country.

Up until now we have had one of the most vibrant choral landscapes in the world. Our professional choral life, consisting of world-renowned chamber choirs, vocal ensembles, opera choruses, cathedral choirs and theatre ensembles, faces an uncertain future. The financial picture for such groups has always been challenging, even in the best of times, but the outlook now for such ensembles, mostly made up of freelance musicians, is not an optimistic one.

We have a world-leading cathedral and church choir tradition, largely made up of young boys and girls and paid adult singers who face financial hardship and also serious challenges of continuity. The amateur choir life of this country is huge, from the world-class symphony choruses and university choirs to community and school choirs, and all these groups face a time of great uncertainty.

We need church leaders to have the courage to speak out so that we can make singing together in churches work within certain guidelines. We need the government to show how we can restart singing together on an equal footing with opening theme parks, shopping and kicking a football around. It is imperative that we find a way for choirs in this country to resume as soon and as safely as we can.

Singing in a choir is not only about communality, social cohesion and harmony; for many it is an essential source of emotional wellbeing and positive mental health. Moreover it is a powerful expression of our culture and humanity, and it cannot be allowed to fade away.’

Bob Chilcott Composer/conductorJohn Rutter Composer/conductorSarah Connolly Opera singerSimon Halsey Chorus directorLSO, CBSOHarry Christophers Founder, The Sixteen, David Hill Musical director, The Bach ChoirGavin Carr Chorus director, The Philharmonia Chorus, Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, Matthew Hamilton Choral director, The Hallé, Ben Parry Conductor, National Youth Choir, David Temple Conductor, Crouch End Festival ChorusAndrew Carwood Director of music, St Paul’s CathedralAshley Grote Master of music, Norwich CathedralAdrian Partington Director of music, Gloucester CathedralRobert Dean Guildhall School of MusicJonathan Willcocks Musical director, Guildford Choral SocietyDarius Battiwalla Musical directorSheffield Philharmonic ChorusLeslie East Chair, Association of British Choral DirectorsAidan Oliver Conductor

Link to the letter on the Guardian website

Link to Sir Simon Rattle and Sir Mark Elder’s letter

Concerts postponed and rehearsals cancelled

23 March 2020

It is with deep regret that we announce the postponement of all three of the remaining concerts for this season, due to the need to protect our members, musicians and audiences and in light of Government advice regarding the Coronavirus.

We have also cancelled all rehearsals for the time being. 

Chorus supports its locked-down musicians

The Chorus continues to pay its three professionals during these strange times, which are proving to be very difficult for professional musicians, many of whom are self employed. In return for the continued payments, the three musicians are working for the Chorus in different ways.

For example, Music Director Darius Battiwalla is composing a new Christmas carol, and writing brass arrangements for the sections of Messiah that don’t currently have them. This will enable the Chorus to sing more of Handel’s work when it joins with Black Dyke Band in the re-scheduling of the brass concert which was postponed due to the coronavirus.

“We are pleased to be able to support our three professionals by commissioning alternative work from them at this time” said Chorus Chair Paul Henstridge. ” We are all missing live rehearsals, but at least we will gain a lasting positive out of this very difficult situation”.

Accompanist Rachel Fright and Voice Coach Maggie McDonald are working together to digitise Maggie’s vocal exercises, which are sent to the Chorus to enable them to continue to keep their voices in trim during the lock-down.

Chorus to sing Messiah with French and German visitors

2 February 2020

The Chorus is busy preparing to sing the brass band version of Handel’s Messiah at Sheffield cathedral on Saturday 18 April 2020 at 7pm, with the world-famous Black Dyke Band.

‘We are all very excited about what is going to be a very special concert’ said Chorus Chairman Paul Henstridge, ‘Not only are we singing the brass band version of Handel’s wonderful work with probably the best brass band in the world. We are going to be joined by singers from Perigeux in France, and from Sheffield’s twin city of Bochum in Germany.’

The overseas singers are coming by invitation following recent visits by members of the Chorus to Perigeux and Bochum. 

‘A small number of us joined the Bochum Choir to sing Messiah in English in February last year’ explained Chorus Finance Officer Graham Dawson, who organised the trips to Germany. ‘ More recently we went over to sing in their annual Christmas carol concert, and had a wonderful time joining in the local festivities. We got back just in time to sing in our own Christmas carol concert in the City Hall!’.

A group of Chorus members went to France with Music Director Darius Battiwalla in 2017, to sing in a special World War II memorial concert, a trip which was all the more memorable because it took place during Bastille Day celebrations with the World Cup final the following day.

‘We are thrilled that more than 50 singers are coming from the French and German choirs to sing Messiah with us’ said Chorus Administrator Anne Adams. ‘The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress are big fans of brass music and are joining us for the concert. And we’re planning a party afterwards at Cutlers Hall, so it’s going to be a really special occasion’

With over 200 singers, plus the fantastic Black Dyke Band, this will be a performance to remember. The concert starts at 7pm, and tickets are unallocated and cost £20, £5 for under 25s. Details on the Chorus website.