News & Reviews

Sinfonia Viva is active in the largest cities and the smallest village communities, working with participants from all backgrounds, entertaining audiences from intimate church settings to major concert halls.

Our projects and concerts make news.

Read about what we do - and if you have any queries about a particular event, please contact us

  • Sinfonia Viva Derby Residency Brings Anniversary Year To a Close

    Folk tunes, classical gems and even music played from rooftops around the Cathedral are just some of the highlights of Sinfonia Viva’s four-week Autumn Derby Residency.

    Grammy-nominated Sinfonia Viva, the East Midlands’ only professional orchestra, will mark the climax of its 35th anniversary year with the series of performances which showcase the Orchestra’s innovative diversity.

    Hot on the heels of Sinfonia Viva’s return to the outdoor stage at Darley Park on September 3, the Orchestra will launch the new Autumn Twilights season by welcoming the acclaimed Tedesca Quartet to Derby Cathedral on Friday September 22.

    Twilights, which is presented by Sinfonia Viva and Derby Cathedral in association with Orchestras Live and Arts Council England, has been a popular programme throughout the past year.

    The series includes performances by Sinfonia Viva and by visiting musician in the majestic and atmospheric environment of Derby Cathedral.

    On September 22 Tedesca Quartet will perform stirring renditions of Dvorak’s Three Cypresses emotive love songs. This will be followed by Martinu’s stirringly beautiful String Quartet No.7, before the concert comes to rapturous end with Dvorak’s String Quartet Op.51 in Eb, a favourite for string quartets around the world.

    Twilights continues at Derby Cathedral on Wednesday October 4 when Viva’s Principal Conductor Duncan Ward will take the baton as well as directing from the piano for an orchestral performance of inspiring and tender music.

    The concert is entitled ‘Simple Gifts’ and is named after the song that inspired Copland’s ‘Appalachian Spring’ and Wagner’s ‘Siegfried Idyll’ that was written as a present to his wife on the birth of their child Siegfried.

    Both pieces are joined in the programme by Milhaud’s ‘La Creation du Monde’ and scores by Martinu and Wagner.

    Viva’s wind quintet then returns to the Cathedral on Friday October 6 for a late afternoon and then evening concert as part of the hugely popular Derby Folk Festival.

    The Folk Reflections programme will take the audience across the globe to experience the vast influence and reach of folk music throughout history.

    Featuring shanties, Slavonic dances, Romanian folk, miniatures from Devon and Norfolk, as well as extracts from Paul Patterson’s Westerly Winds, the concert is free for festival wristband holders with tickets available for general music lovers.

    The climax of Viva’s Derby Residency will see a special commission, again as part of Derby Folk Festival, entitled ‘Call From On High’ on Sunday October 7.

    The free outdoor performances will see musicians playing from rooftop locations at 12 noon, 3pm and 5pm with each ten-minute show starting with the Cathedral bells chiming on the hour.

    The live music and sound score has been composed by Andrew Williams and specially commissioned for the city by Sinfonia Viva.
    Andrew Williams explained: “The different compositions will be towering folk ballads that tell the story of Derby and Derbyshire’s history.

    “The best vantage points are Iron Gate and Amen Alley and I hope that everyone will enjoy these emotionally charged flights of musical fancy that will be whisked into the air from the top of Derby Cathedral and down to the busy streets below.

    “Each site specific piece will be performed on the hour, starting with the last chime of the hour bell and will sound across Derby’s Cathedral Quarter, as a celebration of the enduring importance of music and folk traditions.”

    Sinfonia Viva Chief Executive Peter Helps continued: “Andrew’s ‘A Call From On High’ is an innovative and unique way for us to close our anniversary Derby Residency which is designed to show a range of different playing styles and repertoire.

    “It perfectly illustrates our vision to make orchestral music accessible to all - taking our musicians to the rooftops in the city centre to play music that can be enjoyed by everyone from the streets below.

    “We wanted to mark our 35th year by reaching more people than ever both through our concert programme and our nationally acclaimed education and community outreach programmes.

    “As well as orchestral performances, our aim was to work with 3,500 people of all ages which we have certainly achieved.

    “Highlights of our anniversary year have been the ‘Mechanical Advantage’ education residency, the Twilights performances at Derby Cathedral, the launch of Sing Viva, our new carers’ choir, which performed for the first time at Darley Park and touring the region with our mobile inflatable venue.

    “This has been a whirlwind anniversary year and I am delighted that we will be coming home to Derby for the final leg of 2017 with such a diverse range of music to be enjoyed by all.”

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  • The Hannells Darley Park Concert

    The Hannells Darley Park Concert

    One of the UK’s biggest outdoor classical concerts, the much-loved Darley Park Concert will be returning on Sunday 3 September in the stunning natural amphitheatre of Darley Park. The event is supported by Hannells Estates Agents, Flint Bishop Solicitors, HUUB, Mortgage Advice Bureau, PKF Cooper Parry, Specsavers and Stratstone BMW Derby.

    We are delighted to announce that this year’s concert will be run in partnership with Classic FM and as in previous years Derby favourites, Sinfonia Viva, the Orchestra of the East Midlands, who are supported by Rolls Royce will be performing at the concert. This year’s programme is guaranteed to delight with an eclectic mix of returning favourites, popular pieces to celebrate Derby’s 40th year as a City and a selection of classics chosen by the public.

    Peter Helps, Chief Executive of Sinfonia Viva said “We’re delighted to be returning home to Darley Park and are looking forward to working with all of our partners on this newly invigorated event.”

    This year's programme theme has links to Derby's 40th year celebration as a City such as Funiculi Funicula, Runaway Train, Come Fly with Me and Steve Bloomer celebrating Derby's industrial strengths and Derby County Football Club. It also features popular pieces from past concerts that will send a shiver up your spine such as Thunderbirds, the Star Wars theme and the fantastic Bohemian Rhapsody. The programme also features three selections made by a public vote: Goodwin: 633 Squadron (2006), Prokofiev: Montagues and Capulets from Romeo and Juliet (2015) and Steiner: Lara’s Theme - Gone with the Wind (2008).


    Sinfonia Viva have confirmed the concert Conductor will be James Holmes along with baritone, Grant Doyle as Soloist, both of whom are regulars at the concert. James has conducted a wide-ranging repertoire and is equally at home in the worlds of opera and musical theatre. He was Head of Music at Opera North 1996-2008, having previously worked for over twenty years as principal coach and conductor with English National Opera. Now a freelance conductor, accompanist and arranger, he is especially well known for his work in music theatre and has frequently broadcast on both radio and TV along with his contributions to many commercial recordings. Born in Adelaide, Grant has appeared in several concerts with Sinfonia Viva, including previous Darley Park outdoor concerts to audiences of over 30,000. As a busy concert soloist he has performed for the Royal Opera along with solo performances with the Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Australian Ballet.

    We look forward to welcoming Derbyshire Carers Choir, who will be providing the pre-show entertainment at the concert. Set up as part of Sinfonia Viva’s 35th anniversary programme, the Carers Choir is open to everyone from Derbyshire and beyond, priding itself on being accessible and fun for all. The choir are a Bupa Foundation UK and Arts Council England funded project led by award-winning choral Conductor David Lawrence. Started in March 2017, the group is made up of full time, part time and former carers, as well as people who are looking to try something new. With a ‘no experience required’ ethos, the choir has developed in both confidence and repertoire incredibly quickly, which led to their debut performance on the stage at Darley Park. Brought together by a love of music and performance the choir will perform dynamic and stirring pieces of music including songs from the shows, choral favourites and pop classics, that are guaranteed to stir your senses and win your hearts. 

    Formed in 1987, the Dalesmen Male Voice Choir will be performing during the concert interval. With their aims of bringing the enjoyment of choral music to the wider public and of supporting charitable institutions, The Dalesmen have grown from a few like-minded friends to a near 70 strong choir. They have always believed that everyone should be given the chance and encouragement to sing and will no doubt receive a warm welcome at Darley Park concert this year.

    TV and radio presenter Nicholas Owen, will be returning as the evening’s host for his third time at the concert. Nicholas has a regular Saturday afternoon show on Classic FM, and contributes to other radio and TV programmes.


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  • Sinfonia Viva Secures Further Funding To Touch More People’s Lives

    Sinfonia Viva, the East Midlands’ only professional orchestra which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, has been confirmed as a National Portfolio Organisation by Arts Council England and its funding secured for a further four years starting April 2018.

    The Derby-based Orchestra has been awarded £192,107 a year for the next four years (2018 to 2022) which is a total of £768,428.

    The Orchestra has just completed a five-stage tour of the region with its inflatable mobile venue visiting Derby, Mansfield, Scunthorpe, Mablethorpe and Holt in Norfolk as part of its anniversary year aim to work directly with 3,500 people through a series of education and community creative projects.

    At each venue, Viva performed a family concert, an evening of classical music and then worked with local arts groups to support their activities and performances in the mobile venue.

    Over the year, Viva is working with young people aged one to 21, older people with dementia, carers, hospitals and hospices as well as young people and adults with learning disabilities.

    This ambitious programme is running alongside Viva’s bid to encourage people to donate £35 to fund its increased education and community work.

    Sinfonia Viva Chief Executive Peter Helps said: “The announcement by Arts Council England that our status as a National Portfolio Organisation continues for another four years is testament to the positive impact that we continue to make across the East Midlands and further afield.

    “This continued funding secures our future but, as it is standstill funding for another fours, we will need to step up our own fund raising efforts which we have launched as part of our 35th anniversary.

    “Our vision for the Orchestra is to make orchestral music accessible to all. To achieve this, we need the continued support of businesses, individuals, trusts, foundations and local authorities to ensure that we are able to continue our education and community outreach work for which we have built a national reputation.”

    Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said: "Sinfonia Viva plays an important part in the East Midlands cultural scene and we're delighted to be investing in their work over the next four years.

    “Through its programme of concerts and events, Viva creates opportunities for people to experience classical music and it'll be great to see our funding inspiring people to not only listen and enjoy music, but to take part themselves."

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  • Sinfonia Viva Invites Local Groups To Join Anniversary Tour

    Sinfonia Viva Invites Local Groups To Join Anniversary Tour

    Derby-based Sinfonia Viva, the East Midlands’ only professional orchestra, will mark its 35th anniversary this year by touring the region with its inflatable mobile venue and is inviting local creative groups to join them.

    The Orchestra will start its month-long tour by erecting its mobile venue in Derby Market Place on June 13 and 14 before moving onto Mansfield, Scunthorpe, Mablethorpe and North Norfolk.

    At each location, the Orchestra will hold a daytime family concert which is a relaxed performance aimed at pre-school children and their families, including a chance for them to meet the players and try some of the orchestral instruments themselves.

    This will be followed by an evening orchestral concert – giving people the chance to enjoy high quality classical music close to home.

    On the second day, the mobile venue will be available for performances by local groups – whether that is schools, amateur dramatics, bands or visuals artists wanting to exhibit their work. 

    Viva has a busy year ahead and, as well as a packed concert programme, is aiming to work directly with 3,500 people through a series of education and community creative projects.

    The tour will be an important part of this commitment with Viva helping local groups to stage their shows in the mobile venue.

    They will link up with Voluntary Arts England to give people at each location the chance to work with the backstage, technical and front of house team and potentially unlock future job opportunities.

    Young people aged 14 - 24 will also be invited to get involved in documenting the event over the two day period, to learn valuable journalistic skills, develop their understanding of how an event is covered and to increase their marketing employment skills.

    Sinfonia Viva are also working with University of Derby students, to help shape the feel of the event, creating and designing wonderfully creative animations and design to accompany the event.  

    The ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ tour has been made possible by a £159,525 grant from Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring programme, which makes it easier for cultural organisations and artists to bring great art and culture to people across England.

    Sinfonia Viva Chief Executive Peter Helps explained: “Since receiving the news that we had secured this grant from Arts Council England, we have been working with our partners in key locations across the East Midlands to develop the ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ tour programme.

    “This project will enable us to bring high quality cultural activity to areas we wouldn’t normally be able to  reach, whilst at the same time celebrating local talent and showcasing each areas valuable artistic output.

    “As an organisation, we are committed to creating meaningful musical experiences through performance and participation. This tour ensures we can significantly increase opportunities for people to experience the vibrant spectacle and personal value of a tailored, high quality cultural offer and to create a skills legacy for the future.”

    Mr Helps continued: “Our vision is to make the Orchestra more accessible to everyone and this tour is a key element in this objective -falling in our 35th  birthday year. 

    “Another part our anniversary year will therefore be to encourage more people to support us and these donations will help us to work with even more people in the coming decades.”

    Any local organisation who is interesting in being involved in the tour at Wells next to the Sea should contact Tim Jennings, Tel: 01332 207570 or email


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  • Mechanical Advantage

    Review by Mike Wheeler

    Cog wheels, gears, levers, gravity – not obvious song material. But of course Sinfonia Viva and the Derby schoolchildren and students taking part in the orchestra’s latest schools residency project aren’t going to be fazed by a trifling consideration like that.

    After a short film of the project in action, it was over to Viva and the students, performing the songs and instrumental pieces they had written on the theme of ‘Mechanical Advantage’. Composer and workshop leader James Redwood provided his usual inventive orchestral arrangements, as well as acting as the evening’s compère, a welcome innovation for these concerts, as was the film.

    The imaginative structuring of the student pieces and the kids’ mastery of their intricacies were impressive, as always. The count-down to lift-off of Derby College’s instrumental Diabolic Parabola included some subtle canonic touches. Gravity, Don’t Ground Me, sang the children of Beckett Primary School; their opposite numbers from Firs Estate Primary school introduced us to the unpleasant creatures living On the Dark Side of the Moon; Chellaston Academy’s instrumental Power of Five included some impressive solo and small group moments. In another new feature, the audience had a role to play, with the ‘clapping chorus in three groups’ in the song Ratio 345, about gear ratios and their overlapping patterns, as well as joining in the call ‘load, effort, fulcrum, distance!’ that punctuated the final song, Levers, by James Redwood with words by Hazel Gould.

    With Dutch conductor Frank Zielhorst making his Sinfonia Viva debut, the orchestra added its own contributions. The interlocking patterns of Michael Torke’s Adjustable Wrench were neatly dovetailed, the mid-air ending left hanging delightfully. Workers’ Union, by Louis Andriessen, requires the orchestra to combine tightly disciplined rhythmic playing with a choice of actual notes from only approximate notation, with compelling results. The perpetual-motion machine that is the finale of Ravel’s G major Violin Sonata, in Graham Hall’s imaginative orchestration, was kept spinning purposefully and, as a counterbalance, the first movement of Brahms’ Serenade No 1 brought some open-air freshness to the evening.

    With so much uncertainty facing musical activity in schools, Viva’s residencies remain a cause for celebration.


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