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Farewell to Natalia

After 10 years as our musical director, it's time to say goodbye to Natalia Luis-Bassa.

Natalia in action conducting Beethoven Symphony no.9 at Sheffield Cathedral (image by Anthony Robling)

Having given our final concert of the season, we are reflecting on the past year and our years with Natalia Luis-Bassa, who after 10 years as our Musical Director has decided to move on. There’s nothing like going out with a bang, so her final concert included not only Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony but also a brand-new work by Jenny Jackson, one of Sheffield’s Platform 4 composers collective. And the concert was the grand finale of Classical Sheffield’s 2019 Festival weekend, in the magnificent setting of Sheffield Cathedral.

Natalia’s years with the Hallam Sinfonia included so many ‘highlights’ that it’s hard to know where to begin. But Beethoven definitely deserves a special mention. Natalia took the orchestra through a cycle of Beethoven symphonies which ran alongside a piano concerto series with Ensemble 360 pianist Tim Horton. The massive Ninth symphony, which she had always dreamed of conducting, proved a fitting end to her relationship with the orchestra.

Another collaboration with a soloist, cellist Richard Jenkinson, proved significant too.

Other ambitious works performed by the orchestra with Natalia include Mahler’s symphonies nos. 4 and 5, Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, along with symphonies by Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Brahms and many more.

It was by working with Natalia how the idea of ‘Passenger Seats’ came about – which have now become an annual event. The idea of locating audience members within the body of the orchestra, to experience for themselves the thrill of being in the midst of the action, challenged players, but has proved very successful and popular. This also led to Natalia conducting Sheffield’s first ever concert for 0-3 year olds and their grown-ups, in partnership with Concerteenies, and this too has become a regular feature.

During Natalia’s time with the orchestra, membership increased and stabilised and standards were raised ever higher. Her meticulous rehearsal technique and the excitement she brought to concert days were both appreciated by players, and audiences loved her. We owe her a huge debt of gratitude and will not forget her in a hurry.



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