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50 years with the Hallam Sinfonia!

When Hallam Sinfonia celebrates its 50th anniversary with a special concert on 14 October, the landmark will be even more meaningful for two of its members – who played in the very first concert in October 1973, and are still regular players with the orchestra today.

Vicky Holmes (oboe) has played in the orchestra for continuously throughout this period, being principal oboist since 1977, and barely missing a concert in the whole of the time! She recalls many highlights over the years, including hugely varied venues, inspirational soloists, and working with many wonderful conductors. She sums up the experience of playing in such an orchestra: “Via your instruments, the conductor and the music, you communicate in a unique and special way which for me, very little can equal or replace. I consider myself very lucky to have experienced that many times in the Hallam!”.

John Cooper (violin) has also been a member for most of this time (having just a few years when he did not play regularly with the orchestra), and served as the orchestra’s leader from 2006 to 2017. He too has many highlights to recall, particularly watching the thrilling technique of Marat Bisengaliev, the Kazakh violinist who played the Sibelius violin concerto with the orchestra, and more recently Hannah Thompson-Smith’s performance of The Lark Ascending. He has especially enjoyed the Passenger Seats concerts, saying “it’s so good to engage with the younger generation sitting beside you and making them realise that we are just normal people and that we sometimes play wrong notes!”.


We are tremendously grateful to both Vicky and John for their incredible service, musicianship and warmth as people, which have benefited Hallam Sinfonia and the wider Sheffield musical community so greatly. We are also delighted that several of their colleagues from that very first performance will join us in the audience for our anniversary concert!

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