Forged in Sheffield; Global Soundtracks; Sound Laboratory; Song-Makers – four headings you see a lot of looking at what is on offer in the new University of Sheffield Concert Season at Firth Hall!
It has certainly been planned with considerable imagination, all the concerts/ events in it falling under one of the headings with two notable exceptions.
One is a screening of a 1928 silent film classic La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (22nd November) with a live soundtrack provided by the renowned Orlando Consort performing French vocal music from the 15th century.
The other enticing prospect is A Child’s Christmas in Wales (twice, 18th December), the anecdotal prose poem by Dylan Thomas delivered by Gruffudd Glyn, seen in such films as he Theory of Everything, with appropriate seasonal music arranged for and played by the Ligeti Quartet.
Musing on the categorised concerts in the season up to the end of 2016, the ‘Sound Laboratory’ series, ostensibly concentrating on contemporary music, features much Messiaen.
Proceedings can be said to have got off to a stuttering start on the 21st of September with the composer’s Catalogue d’Oiseaux in a presentation involving visuals and an ornithologist.
Two Global Soundtrack concerts this month (October) and the season begins in earnest on the 1st of November with Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus from the highly rated young pianist Cordelia Williams who has made a speciality out of playing it.
Here, the 20 ‘contemplations’ are each preceded or followed by words mirroring them written by poet Michael Symmons Roberts who recites them.
A third Messiaen keyboard cycle (9th December), La Nativité du Seigneur, is performed at Sheffield Cathedral by the cathedral’s acting director of music Joshua Hales as part of the season.
The Ligeti Quartet (15th November) is in slightly more contemporaneous mode with a programme of Kurtág, Webern, Ligeti, Stravinsky and Bartók (Fifth Quartet), plus a new work by Elliot Galvin.
A Sound Junction weekend featuring new electroacoustic works (25th –27th November) is definitely in contemporary realms, as should be a New Music Ensemble concert (29th November) with Peter Maxwell Davies remembered following his death in March.
‘Global Soundtracks’ focuses on world/ folk music with evenings featuring Kathryn Tickell (18th October), Kefaya (25th October), Karine Polwart (5th November), Chango Spasiuk (10th November), Sarah Jarosz (18th November) and Martin Simpson (13th December).
Back on home territory, ‘Forged in Sheffield’ puts the spotlight on concerts given by the Department of Music’s excellent in-house ensembles and orchestras, the first to appear being the award-winning University Wind Orchestra (4th December).
The Symphony Orchestra strikes up with Borodin, Holst and Stravinsky (11th December) and, in between (6th December), there is an evening of Alan Jay Lerner songs written with composers other than Frederick Loewe, courtesy of Dominic McHugh and Matthew Malone – who else?
‘Song-Makers’ is a crammed weekend festival of song (11th –13th November) and demands a separate piece – see ‘I have a song to sing…’