Classical venue hope for Sheffield to grow music's potential

Discussions are under way about creating a custom-built venue for classical music in Sheffield.
Deborah Chadbourn Executive Director of Music In The RoundDeborah Chadbourn Executive Director of Music In The Round
Deborah Chadbourn Executive Director of Music In The Round

Deborah Chadbourn, the executive director of Sheffield’s Music In The Round group, said a 600-seat facility is envisaged, larger than the organisation’s home of the Crucible Studio, but smaller than the City Hall.

However, talks are in the ‘very early stages’, meaning funding and location are still up for debate.

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Strategies are being mooted by the Classical Sheffield charity, which aims to act as an umbrella body for music organisations in the city, as well as to provide advocacy and information.

“We’re on a bit of a mission to explore the feasibility of a music centre that works for incoming professional performers as well as the people in the city,” said Deborah, who helps to lead Classical Sheffield.

“And I would love that to house contemporary dance, because there’s very little contemporary dance in the city now. It’s dwindled a lot.”

She offered Kings Place in London, which has space for music, art, discussions and dining, as a possible template, emphasising that any new building would need to have a purpose during the daytime.

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“What we would want to see is a new model. Something where learning and teaching were absolutely integrated into fabric of the building.”

Deborah also wants Sheffield to have its own orchestra.

“If we had a beautiful venue with an inherent connection with the city, maybe we could invite an orchestra from London or the South East, where economically it’s really hard to survive.

“It’s those kind of ideas that we want to give some real, in-depth consideration to. It helps with the idea of Sheffield as a ‘magnet city’. It’s got so much going for it.”

The Hallé Orchestra was originally set up in the 1850s to serve Manchester, Sheffield and Bradford, but is now closely associated with Manchester, which has the Bridgewater Hall.

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“We’re the largest city in the UK without an orchestra,” said Deborah.

There is an ambition to develop and grow Sheffield’s classical potential with big events building on the Classical Weekend – short concerts by thousands of musicians across the city, in venues ranging from the City Hall to ‘hidden gems’ like the Channing Hall on Surrey Street. Meanwhile Music In The Round’s annual nine-day May Festival gets under way tomorrow (Friday) with a Russian theme.