Lockdown Beethoven

Hallam Sinfonia has just released a video recording of the last movement of Beethoven’s iconic Fifth Symphony. Undeterred by lockdown, which prevented players from meeting and playing together, individuals recorded their parts at home. These were then put together by conductor Ellie Slorach, who had been due to appear with the orchestra in its June concert.

The orchestra had a total of three events cancelled in March, one being a collaboration with Hallam Choral Society, where Ellie was formerly Musical Director.


Further concerts in May and June were also inevitably cancelled. Morale remained buoyant however and there was strong support for the committee’s proposal that a recording should be made.


The choice of Beethoven was an easy one, in a year celebrating the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Joy Paul, orchestra secretary, explained: ‘We had been due to jointly lead a ‘Come and Play’ event with Ensemle 360 on 22nd March. 80 people, of all ages and levels of experience, had registered to play Beethoven 5 with us and players from Ensemble 360. It felt appropriate that we should find another way to mark Beethoven year even though our concerts were cancelled’.


The Hallam Sinfonia has worked hard to bring classical music to wider audiences over the years. ‘Passenger Seats’ concerts, where audience members are able to sit amongst the musicians, have become popular with families, and the orchestra also gives ‘Concerteenies’ concerts for babies and toddlers and their grown-ups. As lockdown gradually eases, the committee is looking closely at future options. Members are keen to get playing together again as soon as possible but there are many issues to consider.


Jeremy Dawson, orchestra chair, commented ‘Although many ensembles have released videos during this lockdown period, very few have attempted a whole movement from a major symphony. This life-enhancing finale is full of energy and optimism. We hope that listening to it will lift the spirits of many people as it did for the players involved in this project’.

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