St Andrew’s Music Festival

St Andrew’s Psalter Lane Church stages a second music festival in an already congested November, daily from the 5th to the 14th with a day off on the 10th.

As last year, the person arranging it, Ray Kohn, says: “I am still attempting to showcase young Sheffield talent – not me, as I’m not young! – and have managed to organise a concert of new commissions played only by young Sheffielders.”

Also, as last year, music by the 66-year-young Ray Kohn figures rather prominently! – and Beethoven!

“I suggested Beethoven as a featured composer and most ensembles agreed. However, there has been, for me, a very pleasing desire by some young ensembles wanting to perform my work,” he says.

“Last year the Northern String Quartet had their performance of my 12th quartet seen on YouTube and I was quite surprised, but very pleased when both the Cavaleri and Villiers said they would be happy to perform my quartets at St Andrew’s.

“I simply asked the Cavaleri and they said yes to my earlier 9th quartet.

“With the Villiers, I entered their biennial quartet competition and, when I asked them what they thought about the 15th quartet I sent, they said they would like to perform it.

“I later asked them if they would be prepared to play the 16th instead, as I like it better. I sent them the score and they agreed.”

The significance here is that both the Cavaleri and Villiers are two of the finest young British string quartets around with glowing national and international reviews to their name.

Incidentally, the Villiers was prominent on the soundtrack of the BBC TV adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover this past Sunday.

The quartet’s concert at St Andrew’s (November 14) sandwiches Ray Kohn’s No 16 between Beethoven’s Op 18 No 6 and Op 59 No 2; while the Cavalieri (November 8) book-end his No 9 with Haydn’s Op 74 No 1 and Beethoven’s Op 74.

Having watched, and listened to Kohn’s No 12 and No 11, three-movement works and around 15 minutes long, on YouTube you appreciate what the attraction is.

They are certainly not Beethoven or Shostakovich, but are well-constructed and grateful works to play, though not always easy, with an appealing quality largely grounded in klezmer inflection.

Wonder if a vocal work by him, Time’s Dance for soprano, cello and piano, is which crops up in the concert of commissions (November 11) given by Karen Hadas, Lucy Revis and Christopher Hedland, respectively, along with pieces by the latter and Gareth Widdowson.

Ditto: another new work by him, Seven Glimpses of One Secret, which is premiered by the Gavin Usher’s Larkin Strings (November 12) who programme it with Dvořák’s Op 77 string quintet.

Well-known local violinist Ralph Dawson offers Beethoven’s ‘Spring’ violin sonata (November 9) with York-based pianist Polly Sharpe, plus pieces by de Falla, Brahms and Kreisler.

Sheffield Music Academy (November 6) and Sheffield Music School (November 13) have free-admission showcase concerts and some familiar faces on the city’s jazz scene, including Pete Lyons and Jude Sacker, will be doing what they do best on the 7th of November.

All the concerts begin at 7pm and admission is £10 on the door, or £8.80 in advance at www.samfest.uk

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