Globetrotting musicians Decoda begin their UK tour here in Sheffield this week as they start a residency with city-based Music in the Round.
Earlier this week the players – four string players and a clarinetist – flew in from NewYork, from where they coordinate a busy programme of concerts and workshops that takes them all over the world.
Today, they’re entertaining city pupils and teachers in concerts designed for school groups. The fun will continue on Saturday when they perform a Family Concert at Sheffield City Hall Ballroom (3pm).
With five engaging, lively musicians who are experts at making music fun and accessible to people of all ages, it will offer a fascinating and unusual start to half-term.
Among the pieces Decoda will play is Gumboots, by the composer David Bruce. It’s based on the stamping that black miners in Apartheid-era South Africa used to communicate, as talking was forbidden.
What started off as a secret in terrible conditions later became a dance full of vitality.
David said: “This is a striking example of how something beautiful and life-enhancing can come out of something far more negative.”
The concert takes audiences on a journey through musical codes and secrets, featuring a range of music that includes folk songs and classical works by Mozart and Britten.
Music in the Round’s learning and participation manager, Fraser Wilson, said: “The variety of music in this concert, played by world-class musicians, makes it really suitable for families that like to explore and engage with music of all kinds.”
Described by Time Out NY as “a new collective of some of the brightest young classical musicians in the world”, Decoda have made waves wherever they’ve been.
Clarinetist Sarah Beaty said: “We love playing to different audiences around the world, and some of the best fun we have is with children and their families. There’s always lots of movement and activities – we don’t just play!
“We’re excited about meeting young Sheffield music-lovers and having a really great time with them.”
Next week Decoda are taking part in a strings course organised by Sheffield Music Service, where they will coach 150 young string players.
It will culminate in a performance to parents.
Saturday’s concert is suitable for children aged 7+. Tickets: 0114 278 9789 or www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk