The Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO) gave its first public performance on Sunday the 22nd of April 1945 in Sheffield City Hall, conducted by Hermann Lindars, founder of the orchestra.
The audience included the Lord and Lady Mayoress of Sheffield and the Master and Mistress Cutler, Lord and Lady Riverdale. At the time the orchestra was known as the Sheffield Amateur Symphony Orchestra.
A year or so later it was incorporated into the Philharmonic Concerts Department of the Sheffield Corporation, taking on the name by which it is known today.
Over the next forty years, the SPO regularly gave concerts at City Hall, performing with distinguished soloists and guest conductors. During the 1980s the orchestra played many concerts in St. Johns Church, Ranmoor under the heading ‘Music at Ranmoor’, and at other venues in the area such as Beverley Minster, St Marie’s Catholic Cathedral, The Octagon Centre and in Buxton Pavilion Gardens. Family concerts were usually given once a year in the City Hall with well known personalities such as Johnny Morris and Anthony Hopkins.
The orchestra’s ethos and spirit has stayed the same throughout – it provides a medium for amateur players of all ages and backgrounds to flourish. The SPO has so far played a total of 28 pieces never performed in the city before – including a piece composed for the orchestra’s fiftieth year by local composer and guest conductor Martin Thiselton, and a special commission by the Orchestra for their 60th season from British Composer Christopher Brown, Star Song V.
The orchestra’s policy has always been to play music selected to suit both the concert guest and player, choosing music from the classical, romantic and modern periods.
It is also a priority of the orchestra to help to support and encourage talented Sheffield musicians in their development. Local soloists have included violinists Melody Cooper, Scott Cooper, and Martin Cropper, and harpist Rhodri Davis.
A recent performance of Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” featured the soprano Elizabeth Watts, Britain’s entry for the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition 2007. Always keen to embark on additional projects, the orchestra has undertaken two recent international tours and occasional summer schools.
In 2004 the Phil made a commercial recording of the “Eye of the Wind Rhapsody”, a piece composed by internationally renowned guitarist Gordon Giltrap, and a performance of this work was given the following year in the Birmingham Symphony Hall in a concert featuring, among others, Rick Wakeman.
The SPO has received support from Making Music (formerly the National Federation of Music Societies), enabling us to feature many of the organisation’s ‘Musicians of the Year’ – to date this has included the cellist Richard May, and pianists Roderick Chadwick, Phillip Moor, Ron Abramski and Mark Nixon.