Musical treats during a cold November

As the temperatures drop there are a number of musical events to look forward to. This evening I will be performing in the beautiful setting of Worksop College Chapel in a candlelit Solemn Eucharist for St Cecilia. The service will be led by Rev’d Paul Finlinson (Chaplain of Worksop College) and the music directed by Timothy Uglow. The main work will be Haydn’s Little Organ Mass and it will be performed by a small ensemble of musicians (strings and organ), as originally intended. The mass dates from around 1775 and is a concise work, which was necessary for practical reasons at the time. Haydn manages to compress the Gloria and Credo by allowing different vocal parts to carry different lines of the text simultaneously. In the original version the Gloria is only 31 bars, which is quite an extreme example of the practice, so Michael Haydn (his younger brother) later composed a longer version of the movement. The service will also include Purcell’s Rejoice in the Lord Alway and Puccini’s Requiem. The service begins at 8.45pm and entry is free.


On Tuesday 15th November I’m delighted to have been asked to give a short solo performance as part of the Sheffield Year of Making Showcase at the Crucible Theatre, coordinated by Sheffield Culture Consortium. It will be an afternoon celebrating local creativity and talent and there will be presentations from all sectors. Tickets are free and can be reserved through the Sheffield City of Makers website. I look forward to presenting some joyous Bach and Monti’s fiery Czardas.

Autumn music in Sheffield

There are two opportunities to see me perform in Sheffield on Saturday 15th October: at 4pm in the Winter Gardens and at 8pm in St Andrew’s Church, Psalter Lane.

Following on from the highly successful Classical Sheffield Festival last autumn, the organisation is hosting a weekend of pop-up performances in Sheffield’s Winter Gardens. The line-up features an extremely wide range of music, and there will be appearances by The Abbeydale Singers, Platform 4 and The Beekeepers Chamber Folk Group to name but a few. I will give a short solo performance at 4pm including excerpts from Bach’s E major Partita and Biber’s haunting Passagalia, considered by many to be the most important work for unaccompanied violin before Bach. Entrance to the gardens is free.

In the evening I will be at St Andrew’s Church, Psalter Lane for a concert with Black Velvet Clarinet Quartet and on this occasion I will be accompanied by my dad, Roy Phillips. My contribution to the programme includes Mozart’s Sonata for piano and violin in G major, K.301 and Schumann’s Romance in A, Op. 94 no. 2. I am also particularly looking forward to performing the Romance by Karol Szymanowski; written in the autumn of 1910, after the completion of his second symphony, the work is extremely passionate and full of rich chromatic harmony. At this time Szymanowksi was influenced by the music of late-Romantic composers such as Richard Strauss and Wagner, as well as Scriabin and Chopin.

Black Velvet Clarinet Quartet, which was formed in 2012 and essentially comprises the clarinet sections of the Sheffield Chamber Orchestra and the Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra, will perform works dating from the Renaissance to the present day. Some are transcriptions of well-known pieces, such as Brahms’ Hungarian Dance no.5 and Oblivion by Astor Piazzolla, whereas some were written especially for clarinet quartet. Caprice, by american composer Clare Grundman (1913-1996), is one of a number of pieces he wrote for clarinets. He is best known for his works for symphonic wind band, such as the American Folk Rhapsodies.

The concert begins at 8pm and door open from 7.30pm. Tickets will be available on the door priced £12/£8 concessions. There will be a short interval during which refreshments will be served.

Beethoven Violin Sonatas – Concert 4

On Saurday 17th September I will perform the penultimate concert in my series of the complete Beethoven violin sonatas. I will be joined by award-winning Croatian pianist Inja Stanovic and once again the venue is St Andrew’s Church, Psalter Lane, Sheffield.

In this programme I will perform both the G major sonatas (Op.30 no. 3 and Op. 96). Although there is a decade between their compositions the two sonatas have a number of similarities. G major tended to be a pastoral key for Beethoven, who was inspired  and influenced by nature throughout his life, and both works have a feeling of the countryside and make use of folk-like melodies. Opus 96, which was his final violin sonata, opens with a figure like a bird call, followed by gentle arpeggios in both instruments which evoke summer breezes. The finale of the earlier G major sonata is an energetic folk dance often over a drone bass.

Vienna woods

Another notable feature of the sonatas is Beethoven’s use of E flat major. In Op.30/3 he uses it as the key of the second movement, an elegant minuet, and in Op.96 he gives it almost as much importance as the tonic, including it in all four movements.

Alongside these works Inja will perform his twelfth piano sonata, in A flat major Op. 26. It was composed in 1801, the first of four piano sonatas that year, all of which are experimental in some way. It is unusual in that none of the movements uses the traditional sonata form structure. The third movement, described in Beethoven’s initial sketches as a ‘character piece’ is a funeral march; this was a popular genre during the era of the Napoleonic Wars.

Tickets can be reserved in advance through the contact page. £12 full price, £8 concessions.

Concert in aid of Friends of the Rowan School Music Therapy

Tomorrow evening I will be performing in Millhouses Methodist Church in Sheffield to raise funds for Friends of the Rowan School Music Therapy.

I will be joined in the concert by Caccia Wind Quintet, violinist Hannah Thompson-Smith and pianist Roy Phillips and we have prepared an extremely varied programme. My contribution includes the Theme from Ladies in Lavender (Nigel Hess), some excerpts from Bizet’s Carmen and a sonata by Telemann.

I must admit that prior to rehearsing for this concert I knew very little about Telemann. Born in 1681 in Magdeburg, his mother tried to prevent him studying music, so he was largely self-taught. He was able to play a large number of instruments including violin, recorder, keyboard, flute, double bass and trombone. By the age of twelve he had written an opera and he went on to become one of the most prolific composers of his time, despite being somewhat overshadowed by the popularity of J.S.Bach.

The sonata I will perform is part of his Essercizii musici, an anthology of chamber music for various instruments published around 1739. The collection comprises 10 sonatas, 12 trios and two suites for harpsichord.

The concert begins at 7.30pm a tickets are £8, £7 concessions and £2 under-16s. All proceeds will be donated to Rowan School Music Therapy. For more information on the charity visit

Beethoven and Ferdinand Ries

This Friday is the third concert in my series which includes the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas. On this occasion I will be joined by Derbyshire-based pianist Beate Toyka and our programme includes the 6th and 7th sonatas (Op. 30 numbers 1 and 2).

We have chosen also to perform a work by Beethoven’s student and friend Ferdinand Ries, his Grande Sonata in F minor.


Ferdinand Ries (1784-1838) was born in Bonn and was the son of the violinist Franz Ries. His father (who had also been Beethoven’s teacher) taught him piano and violin and he studied cello with Romberg. In October 1801 he travelled to Vienna where he lived and studied piano with Beethoven, acting for many years as his secretary and copyist. He made his debut as a solo pianist there and several years later went on a number of concert tours around Germany, Scandinavia and Russia. In 1813 he moved to London where he lived for 11 years. He became a member and then director of the London Philharmonic Society and, on its behalf, he commissioned Beethoven’s ninth symphony. He spent the final years of his life in the Rhineland where he co-wrote one of the first biographies of Beethoven.

As a composer Ries was prolific, but nowadays his music is not especially well-known. His output included sonatas for piano, violin, cello, flute and horn and the Grande Sonata in F minor dates from 1810. Despite their friendship Beethoven was critical of Ries’ compositions complaining that ‘he imitates me too much’.

Tickets are still available for the concert, which begins at 7.30pm in St Andrew’s Church, Psalter Lane, Sheffield – £12/£8 concessions.

Sparkle Night Walk

On Saturday 2nd July I will be taking part in the annual Sparkle Night Walk to raise money for Ashgate Hospicecare in Chesterfield.

Ashgate Hospicecare is an independent registered charity that provides care to patients across North Derbyshire at the hospice, in the community and at Chesterfield Royal Hospital.

Its aim is to allow anyone in the Derbyshire community who needs it to enjoy their last days without suffering and in the company of people who care. Caring for very ill people is expensive and can only be done from generous donations from the community, through donations, legacies and income raised from the 16 shops.

The Sparkle Night Walk is a 10km walk at 10pm in Chesterfield. Last year it raised £127,000, which made a huge difference to the charity and helped enable them to care for over 2000 people and their families.

If you would like to help me reach my fundraising target you can do so on my supporter page.

Beethoven Violin Sonatas (2)

The second concert in my series which includes the complete Beethoven violin sonatas is coming up on Saturday 13th February, 7.30pm, in St Andrew’s Church, Psalter Lane, Sheffield. This concert will include Beethoven’s 4th and 5th sonatas, Opp. 23 and 24.

In this concert I will be accompanied by pianist Emmanuel Vass. Emmanuel studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and he now has a busy performing schedule around the country and also lectures at Leeds College of Music. Last year he released his second solo album, Sonic Waves, which was funded entirely through a Kickstarter campaign and reached number one in the specialist classical charts. His music has been played on Classic FM and Radio 3.

Emmanuel Vass

Our concert will also feature romantic works by Brahms, Dvorak and Elgar, making it an ideal outing to celebrate Valentine’s Day! Tickets are £12/£8 concessions and seating is unreserved.