Hallam Sinfonia News

Latest news from the orchestra

Limb – a new work for Viola and Orchestra by Jenny Jackson

Jenny Jackson

Hallam Sinfonia is delighted to be collaborating with Jenny Jackson, Sheffield-based composer and member of the Platform 4 composers’ collective. Jenny is also a viola player and a champion of this often overlooked instrument, which has led her to conceive of a large scale work for viola and orchestra, a welcome addition to the viola’s limited repertoire.

Entitled ‘Limb’, the work perceives the soloist as an extra ‘limb’, separate from but still connected to the orchestra, or ‘out on a limb’, isolated and exposed. The soloist starts out strong and determined but becomes more and more absorbed into the orchestral texture, until at the end re-emerging, ‘exposed, defeated and resigned’.

Jenny’s composing process usually starts with pencil line drawings, which in ‘Limb’s’ case highlighted the fact that the viola’s range lies in the middle of the orchestral texture. This presents challenges in terms of making sure the soloist is heard, which Jenny has addressed by asking players to use unconventional techniques such as string players bowing on the sides of their instruments. As well as keeping the dynamic levels down, this sets the scene for a soloist at odds with the situation.

We welcome as viola soloist Maria Do Vale Antunes, a young Portuguese player currently studying for a Masters at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with Louise Lansdown. Maria is also working as a freelance musician and teacher and is passionate about chamber music. Her experience of orchestras, conductors and masterclasses across Europe and beyond and the enthusiasm with which she has approached ‘Limb’ make us look forward to meeting her!

Friday 22 February 19

Jenny Jackson

Thank you John!

John Cooper

After just over a decade of leading Hallam Sinfonia, John Cooper has decided to give the top chair to a new leader, and we wish him many thanks for the contribution he has made to Hallam Sinfonia.

John was a founder member of the Hallam Sinfonia and was appointed leader soon after the appointment of Natalia Luis-Bassa as Musical Director in 2008. As he approaches his final concert as leader, also Natalia’s final concert with the orchestra, he offers his thoughts on his ‘journey so far’.

‘Over 40 years ago a group of keen musicians formed what was then a chamber orchestra, the main aim being to strive for high standards in performing. The early ethos continues today and under Natalia’s guidance the orchestra continued to produce many excellent performances. Natalia brought a breath of fresh air with her energy, humour, and deep feeling for music, a great contribution to the orchestra’s development.

I will always be very grateful for the inspiration and support to improve my playing which the orchestra has given me, particularly when the music was tough! I look forward to continuing to play in this new phase with Hannah, who I know will be a more than capable leader. I wish her well’.

Wednesday 20 February 19

John Cooper