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Belshazzar’s Feast ‘a tremendous wall of sound’ – Review

Saturday 11 June 2022

Covid and the absence of Russian musicians after the invasion of Ukraine made this another difficult year for the Sheffield International Concert season, yet it ended not with a whimper but a magnificent bang.

In fact, it was more of a tremendous wall of sound created by an orchestra nearly a hundred strong, augmented by trumpeters in the wings, and the combined forces of two of Yorkshires’ finest choirs, totalling 150 singers.

The occasion was a performance of William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, set to words from the Bible chosen by Osbert Sitwell of Renishaw Hall, just outside Sheffield and, to steal a line from this dramatic cantata, when it was weighed in the balance it was not found wanting.

The young conductor Finnegan Downie Dear extracted supercharged performances of the powerful and sometimes jazz-inflected score from both the band and the combined choirs, the Sheffield Philharmonic and Leeds Festival choruses.

The choir was particularly impressive after having sat patiently through the first half of the evening waiting for their moment, and the Sheffield Phil’s choirmaster Darius Battiwalla rightly appeared to share in the enthusiastic applause.

That was the highlight of an all-British evening which began with the atmospheric Sea Interludes, from Benjamin Britten’s opera Peter Grimes, with the Halle sensitively catching the changing moods of the four sections, from still dawn to noisy storm.

The evening’s other offering was another piece of programme music, the young British composer Thomas Ades’ Inferno, written for a ballet version of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Being able to see dancers interpreting this piece would have helped the audience follow the musical storyline here, but overall this concert was an impressive climax to a problematic season.

Philip Andrews, Sheffield Telegraph

Previous News Items

11 June 2022 Belshazzar’s Feast a tremendous wall of sound – Review

22 April 2022 Chorus hosts French and German singers

20 April SHEFFIELD STAR: World famous Black Dyke Band and Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus to perform brass arrangement of Handel’s Messiah at City Hall

16 April 2022 BRITISH BANDSMAN: Black Dyke set for choral collaboration

02 April 4BARSREST: European links for Messiah

29 March 2022 Chorus welcome French and German visitors

14 March 2022 Chorus collect almost £2,000 for Ukraine Appeal

05 March 2022 Russian concert in aid of Ukraine

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 SHEFFIELD TELEGRAPH: 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

2019

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

2018

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

2017

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!

pre-2016

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

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Anthems, Hymns and Gloria for Brass Band

In 2019 the Chorus recorded John Rutter’s Gloria with Black Dyke Band – and the CD on which it is features reached the Number One spot in the Classic FM Specialist Classical Albums charts in October 2020, only two weeks after it’s release by Naxos.

The CD Anthems, Hymns and Gloria for Brass Band , was recorded in St Oswald’s Church on Bannerdale Road in Sheffield. Directed by Professor Nicholas Childs and Chorus Music Director Darius Battiwalla, the CD was featured as Album of the Week on the Classic FM radio station, and rapidly moved up the chart over the following week.

The CD features eleven tracks composed by Rutter and arranged for brass band by Belgian conductor Luc Vertommen. It includes many of the English choral composer’s most famous works, including the Pie Jesu from his 1985 Requiem, and This is the Day composed for the wedding of HRH Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.

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.

Buy Anthems on Black Dyke Band website

Buy Anthems via Naxos

Read more about the CD:

Chorus CD tops the charts!

Chorus feature on Black Dyke Band CD