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.

Carol wins Classic FM competition

16 December 2020

The Chorus version of O Holy Night has been selected as a winner of the Classic FM / Making Music carol competition, in which 5 carols are selected to be played in the Classic FM Drive slot in the week commencing Monday 16 December 2019. 

O Holy Night, arranged by Chorus Music Director Darius Battiwalla, was recorded by Black Dyke and the Chorus in the City Hall in 2015 and released on our CD ‘Awake, Arise! A Yorkshire Christmas Carol Collection for Brass and Voices’.

The CD has a real Yorkshire flavour and includes some of the Sheffield carols, traditionally sung in local pubs over the Christmas period. Darius Battiwalla’s O Holy Night for chorus and brass band is a wonderfully uplifting arrangement which goes down a storm at our carol concerts each year. 

This is the fourth time one of the carols from our recording has been selected for the Classic FM Drive competition, and we are thrilled that this time it’s our favourite, O Holy Night. 

It will be played in the Classic FM Drive slot sometime between 5pm and 8pm on Monday 16 December 2019.

Of course the Chorus will be singing O Holy Night at the annual carol concert at the City Hall on Saturday 14 December 2019 at 2pm and 5.30pm. We are thrilled that the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Sheffield will attend the 2pm session.

Also on the programme will be Darius Battiwalla’s arrangements of three local carols – Egypt, Tyre Mill and Hail Smiling Morn – all also on the CD, along with Paul Fincham’s new carol Ring the Bells, the royalties from which will be donated to homelessness charity Crisis.

Tickets available online or from the City Hall box office. The CD will be on sale in the foyer for the special concert price of £10.

Find out further information about the carol project.  or about homelessness charity Crisis.

Read more about the Christmas CD

Find out more about the Classic FM / Making Music Drive competition.

Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus in finals of national carol competition

Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus have been shortlisted in the top ten for a national carol competition.

By Julia Armstrong

Sunday, 15th December 2019, 10:00 am

Updated Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 12:40 pm

Run by Making Music UK and Classic FM, the festive competition invited performers to submit a performance to be played on the popular classical radio. With more than 5.7 million listeners tuning in every week, Classic FM is the biggest classical music radio station in the world.

The competition is part of Classic FM’s 11-year partnership with Making Music UK, which regularly offers member groups the chance to submit recordings for live broadcast.

The shortlisted carols have been broadcast in the lead-up to the festive season on the station’s Drive programme. The winning five were then being played all this week on the show.

Resident chorus at Sheffield City Hall, the Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus, won through to the top 10 for the competition.

The Philharmonic Chorus teamed up with Black Dyke Band for a beautiful rendition of O Holy Night.

The duo often perform this work at their annual Christmas concerts at Sheffield City Hall, with this year’s event, which took place on December 14, proving no different.

The carol, composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847, reflects how the birth of Jesus has impacted on humanity.

Many popular artists who have covered the carol include Nat King Cole in 1960, Patti LaBelle (1990), Mariah Carey (1994), Josh Groban (2002) and Idina Menzel this year.

During the first three weeks of December, Classic FM listeners were also invited to vote for their favourite-ever Christmas carol – and O Holy Night has held the top spot since 2016.

This year’s results will be revealed on Christmas Day between 1pm and 3pm.

Link to article in Sheffield Telegraph

REVIEW: Sheffield’s Christmas concert tradition

SHEFFIELD PHILHARMONIC CHORUS/ BLACK DYKE BAND, CITY HALL

Review by Philip Andrews Sheffield Telegraph Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 5:32 pm

Christmas music may have been playing in your supermarket since September but the season in Sheffield doesn’t really get under way until the City Hall’s annual Christmas concert.

To get us in festive mood this year, Phil director Darius Battiwalla put together an eclectic programme of familiar carols, a couple of gems from the rich store of Sheffield carols and a brand new piece written to raise money to help the homeless. He even arranged the curtain raiser – the familiar O Come, O Come Emmanual – for the trio of forces which combined so well throughout this concert – choir, brass band and the City Hall’s mighty organ, played here by Neil Taylor.

Professor Nicholas Childs, conductor of Black Dyke Band

Black Dyke’s offerings, under their musical director Nicholas Childs, ranged from the ever-popular Winter Wonderland, via a couple of familiar medleys to A Christmas Carol, by the talented young composer Matt Eden, who specialises in new pieces for brass band.

Paul Fincham’s affecting new carol Ring the Bells was commissioned a couple of years ago by the London Philharmonic Choir to raise awareness of homelessness, and delicately handled here by their Sheffield namesakes in what may have been its first performance in the city. Let’s hope it is not the last, as all the royalties from the piece are donated to the homeless charity, Crisis.

The only downside to what has now become an eagerly-anticipated Sheffield Christmas tradition was the disappointing audience figure for the evening performance, which had been brought forward this year to a tea-time start.

Link to the review in Sheffield Telegraph online

Chorus to present Bochum gift to Lord Mayor

Sheffield Telegraph, Thursday 2 November 2019

Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus is thrilled to be able to pass on a gift from the people of Bochum to the city of Sheffield.  A large framed photograph of Bochum’s City Hall will be presented to Lord Mayor Tony Dowling at the choir’s next concert on Saturday 9 November 2019.

‘We were given the picture during our trip to sing with Bochum’s City choir in their brand new concert hall, when we presented greetings from Sheffield’s Lord Mayor.’ explained Chorus Chair Paul Henstridge, ‘Bochum takes the twinning arrangement with Sheffield very seriously and even helped to pay for our trip. We are delighted that our Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress are able to receive the picture on behalf of the city – and that they will stay to hear us sing.’

Chorus Chair with Deputy Mayor of Bochum

Members of the Chorus visited Sheffield’s twin town Bochum in February to sing Handel’s Messiah with the Philharmonischer Chor Bochum, accompanied by the Bochumer Symphoniker conducted by John Lidfors. Many stayed with colleagues from the Bochum choir, re-kindling friendships made on a previous trip. They were treated to trips to Bonn and Essen, as well as a number of hostelries and a big party.

But the main event was Messiah in the award-winning concert hall funded by over 20,000 donors and completed following 15 years of fundraising. ‘We were bowled over by the concert hall, an absolutely fantastic state-of-the-art building already listed as one of the top ten concert halls in Germany’ said Graham Dawson, who organised the trip. ‘We’ve arranged a return trip of course – they are joining us to sing Messiah with the Black Dyke Band in the Victoria Hall on 20 April 2020’

Chorus members visited France last year, singing  with L’ensemble Vocal de Périgueux to celebrate the end of WW1. Keen to maintain strong links with their French and German colleagues, the Chorus have invited both choirs to experience the brass version of Messiah for the first time.

‘We are thrilled that the Mayor of Bochum acknowledged the importance of our joint venture by presenting us with this picture’ said Paul, ‘and equally thrilled to be presenting it to Sheffield’s Lord Mayor at our concert in November’

The short After Hours session follows the Halle concert in the main hall and features a programme from Scandinavia and the Baltic. ‘Audiences will be familiar with the Norwegian Romantic composer Edvard Grieg, but may not be with his countryman Ola Gjeilo, born in 1978, or Eric Ešenvalds, born in Latvia a year earlier.’ said Music Director Darius Battiwalla, ‘We’ve chosen a programme of particularly beautiful pieces to sing unaccompanied which will suit the amazing acoustic of the City Hall ballroom.’

Join the Lord Mayor to hear the choir ‘up close and personal’ on Saturday 9th November at 9.15pm. The free concert ends at 10pm; tickets from the City Hall Box Office, through the hotline 0114 2 789 789, or online via the website.



Lord Mayor to receive Bochum gift

Chorus presents gift from Bochum to city

Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus is thrilled to be able to pass on a gift from the people of Bochum to the city of Sheffield.  A large framed photograph of Bochum’s City Hall will be presented to Lord Mayor Tony Dowling at the choir’s next concert on Saturday 9 November 2019.

‘We were given the picture during our trip to sing with Bochum’s City choir in their brand new concert hall.’ explained Chorus Chair Paul Henstridge, ‘We are delighted that our Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress are able to receive the picture on behalf of the city – and that they will stay to hear us sing.’

Members of the Chorus visited Sheffield’s twin town Bochum in February to sing Handel’s Messiah with the Philharmonischer Chor Bochum, accompanied by the Bochumer Symphoniker conducted by John Lidfors. Many stayed with colleagues from the Bochum choir, re-kindling friendships made on a previous trip. They were treated to trips to Bonn and Essen, as well as a number of hostelries and a big party.

But the main event was Messiah in the award-winning concert hall funded by over 20,000 donors and completed following 15 years of fundraising. ‘We were bowled over by the concert hall, an absolutely fantastic state-of-the-art building already listed as one of the top ten concert halls in Germany’ said Graham Dawson, who organised the trip. ‘We’ve arranged a return trip of course – they are joining us to sing Messiah with the Black Dyke Band in the Victoria Hall on 20 April 2020’

Chorus members visited France last year, singing  with L’ensemble Vocal de Périgueux to celebrate the end of WW1. Keen to maintain strong links with their French and German colleagues, the Chorus have invited both choirs to experience the brass version of Messiah for the first time.

‘We are thrilled that the Mayor of Bochum acknowledged the importance of our joint venture by presenting us with this picture’ said Paul, ‘and equally thrilled to be presenting it to Sheffield’s Lord Mayor at our concert in November’

The short After Hours session follows the Halle concert in the main hall and features a programme from Scandinavia and the Baltic. ‘Audiences will be familiar with the Norwegian Romantic composer Edvard Grieg, but may not be with his countryman Ola Gjeilo, born in 1978, or Eric Ešenvalds, born in Latvia a year earlier.’ said Music Director Darius Battiwalla, ‘We’ve chosen a programme of particularly beautiful pieces to sing unaccompanied which will suit the amazing acoustic of the City Hall ballroom.’

Join the Lord Mayor to hear the choir ‘up close and personal’ on Saturday 9th November at 9.15pm. The free concert ends at 10pm; tickets from the City Hall Box Office, through the hotline 0114 2 789 789, or online via the website.

Chorus Chair with Mayor of Bochum

Chorus feature on Black Dyke Band CD

22 October 2019

The Chorus met up with the world-famous Black Dyke Band in a Sheffield church last night, to record John Rutter’s Gloria for the band’s forthcoming CD. ‘We’re getting used to recording with this wonderful brass band’ said Chorus Chair Paul Henstridge, ‘We joined Halifax Choral Society and the Yorkshire Youth Choir to record Philip Wilby’s new oratorio The Holy Face with them in 2015, and the band’s last CD featured Paul Mealor’s Paradise, a piece that sandwiches beautiful choral sections around a fiendishly difficult brass-only section in the middle.’

The Chorus with Black Dyke Band in St Oswald’s Church Sheffield

The recording was made in the atmospheric surroundings of a Sheffield church – St Peter’s and St Oswald’s on Bannerdale Road. ‘We chose St Oswald’s because they have hosted a recording session with us before and looked after us well on that occasion.’ said Administrator Anne Adams. ‘That was quite some years ago, when we recorded one of those special ‘in-between’ chunk for Songs of Praise, with atmospheric lighting and dry ice swirling around. No filming this time of course, and everything went well, thanks to everyone at St Oswald’s’

John Rutter’s Gloria was composed in 1974 for choir, brass, percussion and organ, with an alternative version for choir and orchestra. Described as “exalted, devotional and jubilant”, it was Rutter’s first commission from the US. Structured in three movements and based on the Gloria from the Latin mass, it was always intended as a concert piece.

The Gloria will feature on the Black Dyke Band’s next CD. For more information about Black Dyke Gold VII featuring Paradise, or The Holy Face, see Buy Our Recordings and Books.