Sheffield music conductor Quentin Clare launches city’s new Brigantes Orchestra with concert

The Brigantes Orchestra is a new, professional orchestra in Sheffield, launching with its first concert tomorrow at the Upper Chapel, featuring a programme of English music.
Conductor Quentin Clare, founder of the Brigantes Orchestra in SheffieldConductor Quentin Clare, founder of the Brigantes Orchestra in Sheffield
Conductor Quentin Clare, founder of the Brigantes Orchestra in Sheffield

The Brigantes Orchestra has been set up by Quentin Clare, a professional orchestral conductor who has worked with orchestras across Europe and moved to Sheffield in 2015.

Quentin said: “When I moved to Sheffield it was great to see how music was thriving in the city; from the excellent Ensemble 360 to the many amateur orchestras and choirs, it was clear that there was a real passion for classical music here.

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“But the one thing I didn’t understand is why a city the size of Sheffield, so rich in music, theatre and culture, didn’t have its own professional symphony orchestra?

“Why was it reliant on visiting orchestras, like the Hallé? So, I set out to put that right.”

Quentin is a freelance who works extensively in Europe and moved to Sheffield for family reasons. He debuted with the Hallé in Manchester at 25 and UK orchestras he has worked with include BBC Philharmonic and Royal Northern Sinfonia.

The Brigantes Orchestra has recruited local professional musicians for its first concert tomorrow (Friday, April 5) for a programme of English spring music, including Purcell, Elgar, Delius and Holst.

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Quentin said: “We’ve chosen three late 19th century/early 20th century pieces which reimagine the dances and forms from the 1600s and 1700s and put them alongside original examples by Purcell.

“The music is vibrant and lively, showing the string instruments off at their best, and highlighting what an amazing heritage of composers we have in this country.

“Anyone can enjoy this music – this is an ideal first venture to a classical concert; you don’t have to be an aficionado.”

He added: “This first project is really a try-out, to see if there’s an audience for it and for us, also to find the practicalities as to how it’s going to work.”

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He’s funded the first concert out of his own pocket and made a call-out to professional musicians in the city and was pleasantly surprised at the response he got.

“Many, many players said, ‘This is so fantastic, we’d love to join’ but they can’t all make the date. I didn’t expect the first one to be an easy one.

“For the next one we will get more good players in. I’m still finding out who’s around.”

The first line-up will be 13 players plus Quentin conducting.

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Quentin has big plans for the next few years and aims to grow Brigantes from a small string orchestra to a full-sized symphony orchestra of 50 or so musicians, playing a diverse range of music, from the great classical and romantic composers, to 20th century and film music.

Next up will be a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony with a much bigger orchestra.

Quentin asked: “Wouldn’t it be great to have Sheffield’s own orchestra selling out the City Hall and playing some of the world’s greatest music alongside new pieces from Sheffield-based, young composers?”

Information and tickets are available on the Brigantes website:

The concert takes place at 7.30pm at the Upper Chapel, Norfolk Street in the city centre. Tickets are £17.50 or £14 concessions.