Concert for a penny

Concert for a penny


norman lebrecht

January 19, 2015

That’s what it takes to tempt an audience in Sheffield, capital of the UK’s defunct steel and coal industries. Press release below.




Do you have a case of the January blues? Would you like to try something new but don’t have the cash? Sheffield’s chamber music organisation, Music in the Round, is inviting audiences to experience the magic of its in-house ensemble, Ensemble 360, for just one penny on Saturday 24 January.

Following the huge success of the first such concert in 2012, the concert will once again be held on Sheffield Crucible Theatre’s 980-seat main stage. The programme features music of theatrical flair that showcases the collective and individual brilliance of resident Ensemble 360 musicians. They will be playing orchestral favourites in skilful chamber versions, and a selection of more recently composed pieces that are full of spontaneity, wit and charm.

The concert programme will include Mozart’s Don Giovanni Overture (arr. David Matthews), and Ravel’s virtuosic Tzigane for violin and piano, as well as something more unusual in the shape of Ligeti’s fabulous Musica ricercata / Six Bagatelles for piano and wind quintet, from the 1950s. Ligeti originally wrote these 11 pieces for piano, and he later re-arranged 6 of them for Wind Quintet. In this concert, these two versions will be mixed for possibly the first time ever, with pianist Tim Horton performing 5 the pieces which Ligeti never orchestrated, with members of Ensemble 360 playing the Wind Quintet version of the others.


  • Iain Scott says:

    You can do better than this Norman.
    So if that’s how Sheffield ,with a pretty vibrant music scene ,is to be described what would you use for ,say London?
    Capital of over subsidised arts organisations and corrupt bankers?
    Let’s start a new trend. I’m sure yo would have something for Vienna ?

  • Joshaw says:

    Vibrant? Must have improved since I lived there. I don’t recall listening to the Sheffield Philharmonic or, for that matter, the Barnsley/Leeds/Bradford/Doncaster/Harrogate/York Philharmonic either. What was worse, nobody there seemed unduly concerned that the country’s largest county didn’t have a single, full time professional symphony orchestra.

    So far as subsidies are concerned, the area has consumed quite a lot of cash over the last few decades and has relatively little to show for it.

    • Iain Scott says:

      I was rather thinking of the vibrant band scene,young musicians artists,silversmiths,makers that are emerging. The oft quoted Arctic Monkeys.
      Sadly too many people fall I to the voucher of arts meaning men in suits going to orchestral concerts.
      Or indeed the Royal Opera House that bastion of free market stand alone success. Not.

      • Anne says:

        “men in suits going to orchestral concerts”

        What are you talking about?

        In this blog, as opposed to NME for instance, it’s entirely reasonable to assume that ‘vibrant music scene’ at least includes classical.

        The ROH raises 75% of its funds privately. An unusual achievement in Europe, I believe, and it will still be around when the Arctic Monkeys have gone out of fashion. In that respect, it’s probably a good investment. Same for Opera North – which started as a spin off from the ENO in wicked bankers’ London.

        How is the National Centre for Popular Music doing these days?

    • Paul Thomas says:

      Yorkshire does have a professional symphony orchestra, the Orchestra of Opera North, and while orchestral provision is not great (although the Manchester based orchestras make frequent trips across the pennines). the county is very lucky to have Music in the Round, which bills itself as ‘the largest promoter of chamber music (in the UK) outside London. The RPS awarded them the chamber music prize in 2013.

      While the cost of the ticket is 1p, donations are taken received at the end, on a ‘pay what you want’ basis. This will probably raise more money than a standard concert and this is now the 2nd time that MitR has used the opportunity of putting a concert on in the main Crucible stage, both as a fund raiser and to introduce people to chamber music.

      • Joshaw says:

        “Yorkshire does have a professional symphony orchestra”

        You left out the “full time” bit, and Opera North didn’t exist when I lived there. Like you said, orchestral provision is not great. Birmingham seems to understand the importance of the CBSO, and not just in musical terms, but Yorkshire, perhaps too busy being “not London”, just doesn’t seem to get it.

        • Halldor says:

          If the Orchestra of Opera North, isn’t a full-time symphony orchestra, neither is the Vienna Philharmonic.

          And if you don’t recall listening to the Sheffield Philharmonic, well, to be honest, whose fault is that? It’s been around since 1945. True, we don’t all have the time to support our local amateur orchestras as much as they deserve…but why would you want to boast about that?

  • Simon Seligman says:

    What a cheap jibe Norman, but I suppose a 1p concert deserves a 1p effort on your part.

    Your sharp tongue is legendary of course, and good for business no doubt, but in talking down Sheffield you insult our loyal, committed audience, the substantial series of (normally priced) concerts and festivals we put on in Sheffield and South Yorkshire, and the colossal amount of Music in the Community work we do annually with schools, families, students and young people. A Pay What You Want chamber music concert is just one way of trying to reach out to new audiences, something that even arts organisations in London have to think about, and it is no reflection of a desperation, rather the opposite; a confidence that what we do is superb and worth sharing is as many ways we can, so that the art form thrives all over the country, not just in Wigmore Street.

    Thanks at least for posting our press release. I’ve risen to your bait here (I work at Music in the Round) because this matters and is worth more than your casual and ignorant joke at this city’s expense.