Sheffield University Students and Alumni Unite with Hallam Sinfonia for a Day
A reflection by Charlie Hardwick
Recently, a symphonic reunion of sorts took place in the heart of Sheffield, as former and current students of Sheffield University gathered alongside members of Hallam Sinfonia, Sheffield Philharmonic and Sheffield Viola Ensemble for a day of music-making. The aim for the day: to help the University expand its orchestral provisions and develop relationships with the wider musical community here in the city.
I myself was reunited with the beautiful Firth Hall as all the memories of my time as a music student at Sheffield University came flooding back. We even used to rehearse and put on our concerts on Sundays too! There were certainly some slightly sleepy people there in the morning (not only the students I hasten to add!) I include myself in this, having not made enough time to have a cup of coffee before leaving the house (!) This slight fail at time-keeping, combined with walking through Weston Park with my Cello on my back, took me immediately back to being a student!
Once we'd all said hello around our cello cases, we got set up on stage, Adam Harrod, the organiser of the whole event, made further introductions. Adam plays percussion for us at Hallam, as well as other groups in Sheffield, and also helps us out with fixing. I hadn't properly clocked that he was also going to be our conductor for the day too! Despite his ever so slight nerves, he did a really great job of leading us for the day. Clear and concise with his requests, but also supportive and helpful. Just what we all needed!
The programme for the day certainly gave us all something to get our teeth stuck into.
Schubert’s small-but-perfectly-formed 3rd symphony and De Falla’s vibrant 'Three-Cornered Hat Suite.' My personal highlight was getting to flex my pizzicato skills in the De Falla. I like to be challenged in this highly specific area, and the De Falla certainly delivered, with quick changes from plucking to using the bow, quite complex chords and some fiendish counting. I loved it!
Alongside all the great music, it was great to meet and chat to people from all the various groups that were being represented. It was fab to sit next to Ella, our cello principal for the day, who is a decent chunk into her Medicine degree. She did a great job of leading us and making sure everyone was comfortable, as well as being a brilliant player. It was also especially nice to have a long chat over lunch with one of my own cello colleagues from Hallam! We rehearse so intensively and with so much to get done for our concerts, that we rarely have time to have a proper catch up.
With all parts of our two pieces rehearsed - Adam did a great job of planning and sticking to his schedule for the day - it was time for the final performance! Adam's Dad joined us in the percussion section and Alley York on Harp made it all come together. I think we all felt that we'd achieved so much in such a short time, especially considering how tricky the De Falla was. Looking around in the afternoon break and after the concert, I saw lots of conversations happening between the different groups, whether it was some networking for future events, or just getting to know each other. It certainly felt like the day's goal had been achieved!