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

  • 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.

     

    find out more
  • Six-figure funding boost for classical concerts in the East Midlands/ North Lincolnshire/Norfolk

    Arts Council England is investing almost £160,000 in Sinfonia Viva’s plans to take its inflatable venue on tour to places where there are few traditional concert halls.

    Inspired by its recent performances as part of The Grand Tour, the critically acclaimed orchestra will use the money to transform its inflatable venue into a modern day musical cabinet of curiosity. 

    In 2015 the Arts Council invested in Sinfonia Viva’s plans to purchase the inflatable mobile auditorium and stage through its Capital funding programme with the aim of helping the orchestra to take classical music further afield in the East Midlands and beyond.

    This latest investment will support the orchestra to travel to locations across the East Midlands, North Lincolnshire and Norfolk, presenting a mix of classical concerts, events and workshops for people of all ages to enjoy.

    The £159,525 comes from the Arts Council’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 is one of five cultural organisations nationally to receive a share of £782,712 in the latest round of investment.

    Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “Our Strategic Touring funding is all about taking great art and culture to more people across the country, particularly to places where it might not always be easy to access. Sinfonia Viva’s inflatable concert venue gives the company the flexibility to perform anywhere, which is why we’re delighted to be supporting their latest tour. The tailored line-up of events will offer something for everyone, giving adults, children and young people alike the opportunity to enjoy classical music by one of the country’s top orchestras.”   

    Throughout June 2017, the tour will see Sinfonia Viva pitch up and perform in East Lindsey, Mansfield, north Norfolk, Scunthorpe and the orchestra’s home city of Derby.

    In each place, university students will create designs to transform the inflatable structure into a modern-day cabinet of curiosity unique to the local area, reflecting its people, places, history and heritage.

    The line-up of performances to choose from will include a brand new classical commission by the orchestra’s conductor Duncan Ward and one of Viva’s award-winning, family friendly concerts.  

    Peter Helps, Chief Executive, Sinfonia Viva said: “We are absolutely delighted to have received this invaluable funding for our 2017 tour. This project will enable us to bring high quality cultural activity to area’s 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.”

     

    find out more
  • Flutter and Fly 2016

    Family-Friendly Performance Returns to Derby

    East Midlands’ regional orchestra Sinfonia Viva has announced a second performance date in the Cathedral Quarter as part of Derby Book Festival in June.

    ‘Flutter & Fly’ is a family concert that will be held in the Orchestra’s innovative inflatable mobile venue in the Market Place on Friday June 10 at 11.30am.

    ‘Flutter & Fly’ – commissioned by Viva especially for children aged under six and their families- is presented by composer and guitarist Jack Ross, accompanied by four Viva musicians.

    The story, music and songs track the adventures of Rowan’s paper aeroplane who meets a host of friends in the sky from a bee to a rocket.  

    The story is further brought to life by the illustrations of visual artist Eleanor Meredith whose stunning live drawings and animation are projected on screens around the stage.

    The young audience members and their families will be invited to relax on chairs and beanbags during the concert and there will be the opportunity to see the instruments up close during and after the performance.

    The previous evening (Thursday June 9), Sinfonia Viva will be joined by 1623 Theatre Company Artistic Director Ben Spiller for a unique concert, ‘Flights of Fantasy’, celebrating the art of storytelling through words and music.

    Ben Spiller will narrate passages from the Shakespeare classic ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ as part of the concert featuring extracts alongside Mendelssohn’s score of the same name.

    The concert will also feature extracts from Weber’s ‘Der Freischütz’ - based on the German folk tale of the same name which is considered a monumental moment in German storytelling and music.

    The concert is also part of Derby Book Festival and the regional Grand Tour 2016 – a series of cultural exhibitions and events across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire inspired by the 19th century European cultural travellers.

    The venue for both concerts is Viva’s mobile stage and auditorium which caters for a 250-strong audience and has been called ‘The Cabinet of Curiosity’ – inspired by 17th century patrons who brought together their personal collection of ‘items of wonder’ which led to the creation of museums across the world.

    Sinfonia Viva Chief Executive Peter Helps explained: “’Flutter & Fly’ was first performed at Rolls-Royce Heritage Centre in 2014 as part of the Get Creative Family Arts Festival.

    “This was a sell-out performance and we had incredible feedback from the audience. I am sure that many families who have joined us previously will want to come back to experience the joy and energy of this fantastic concert once again and that we will be joined by many others who missed it the first time.

    “Our performance of ‘The Boat & The Blue’ as part of last year’s Family Arts Festival won an award for the best family event – further cementing the Orchestra’s reputation for high quality music that reaches out to a wide audience of all ages.”

    Both ‘Flutter & Fly’ and ‘Flights of Fantasy’ share the common theme of story- telling through music.

    “At both concerts, our aim is to transport the audience into the magical world of these stories – created in words, music and – for the family concert – with the added element of live drawing.”

    Tickets for ‘Flutter & Fly’ cost £5 which includes a book and CD of the story and music for every child in the audience.  Tickets for ‘Flights of Fantasy’ on Thursday June 9 cost £10, £8 Concessions, or £6 for anyone under 26.  

    find out more
  • Flights of Fantasy

    Sinfonia Viva Invites Derby Audience To Join A Flight of Fantasy

    East Midlands’ regional orchestra Sinfonia Viva will be joined by 1623 Theatre Company Artistic Director Ben Spiller for a unique concert on Thursday June 9, celebrating the art of storytelling through words and music.

    The ‘Flights of Fantasy’ concert, starting at 6pm, will be part of Derby Book Festival and the regional Grand Tour 2016 – a series of cultural exhibitions and events across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire inspired by the 19th century European cultural travellers.

    The venue for the concert will be Viva’s innovative inflatable mobile venue which will be erected in the Market Place.

    The venue, which houses a stage and auditorium for a 250-strong audience has been called ‘The Cabinet of Curiosity’ – inspired by 17th century patrons who brought together their personal collection of ‘items of wonder’ which led to the creation of museums across the world.

    Ben Spiller will join the Orchestra ensemble on stage to narrate passages from the Shakespeare classic ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ as part of the concert featuring extracts alongside Mendelssohn’s score of the same name.

    Mendelssohn was the great composer of The Grand Tour era, having gone on The Grand Tour of Europe during his lifetime. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is among his best loved works and is itself a journey into the beautiful dreamlike world of Shakespeare’s classic play.

    The concert will also feature extracts from Weber’s ‘Der Freischütz’ - based on the German folk tale of the same name which is considered a monumental moment in German storytelling and music.

    Telling a tale of love, dark magic and feudal rivalry, it is an epic story that takes the audience on an incredible journey to 17th century Eastern Europe.

    1623 Theatre Company are renowned for bringing Shakespeare to life in exciting new ways. The June 9 concert will be the third time that Sinfonia Viva and 1623 Theatre Company have worked together having previously focused on Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’ and ‘Richard III’.

    Ben Spiller explained: “It's very exciting to be working with Sinfonia Viva again, this time by speaking Shakespeare's words alongside Mendelssohn's music.

    “I'll be playing magical fairies, young lovers and funny workmen including Bottom the weaver, who's turned into a donkey by cheeky goblin Puck. It's set to be a lot of fun.

    “We are very lucky to have Sinfonia Viva, a world-class orchestra, based here in our home city. I'm delighted to be working with these wonderful artists to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death and his incredible legacy in the worlds of theatre and music.”

    Sinfonia Viva Chief Executive Peter Helps continued: “’Flights of Fantasy’ will be an exciting experience in so many ways.

    “Our aim is to transport the audience into the magical world that Shakespeare created in words and the composer evoked through his music.  

    “We are particularly delighted that this concert is part of Derby Book Festival and the Grand Tour 2016 – setting it in a literature and historical context.

    “And the return of our inflatable mobile venue to the Market Place will create a unique setting for this special combination of words and music.”

    find out more
  • Sinfonia Viva Pushes Out The Boat To Win National Award

    The annual Get Creative Family Arts Festival is a national festival offering families an extraordinary range of arts activities to enjoy.

    Voted for by a panel of expert judges from the arts sector, the Awards recognise the outstanding events that took place within 2015 Festival and the organisations and venues that participated.

    Sinfonia Viva won the national award for the festival’s Best Family Event.

    The Get Creative Family Arts Festival was celebrated at an awards ceremony on Wednesday 30 March at the Albany in London, recognising the Festival’s most engaging family events as well as highlighting the outstanding organisers amongst the huge variety of participating organisations.

    Sinfonia Viva Chief Executive Peter Helps, Education Manager Marianne Barraclough and composer Jack Ross accepted the award for Best Event on behalf of the Orchestra.

    Sinfonia Viva joined more than 800 other organisations in delivering events as part of the 2015 festival, which took place between 9 October and 1 November 2015.  Around 500,000 family members attended one of the 4,000 festival events across the UK.

    ‘The Boat & The Blue’ was commissioned by Sinfonia Viva as part of the national Get Creative Family Arts Festival especially for children aged under five and their families.

    The afternoon concert at the Rolls-Royce Heritage Centre told the story of a young girl’s wonderful adventures – setting sail with Rowan and her paper boat into an ocean teeming with marine life.

    Presented by composer and guitarist Jack Ross, and accompanied by twelve Sinfonia Viva musicians, the concert featured new music written by Jack, as well as a host of orchestral favourites to give the audience a flavour of a life on the ocean wave and the creatures who live there.

    The story was further brought to life by the wonderful illustrations of visual artist, Eleanor Meredith, whose stunning live drawings and animation were projected on a big screen behind the orchestra.

    Before the concert, there was the chance to explore the Rolls-Royce Learning & Development Centre, and to discover more about the engines and manufacturing that allows man to dive deep under the oceans to explore the undersea world.

    In preparation for the performance, Viva held taster workshops at Becket Children’s Centre and Play & Learn Day Nursery in the city who have been involved in Family Arts Festival projects for the previous two years.

    Sinfonia Viva’s Marianne Barraclough said: “We are obviously delighted that our work as part of the Festival has been recognised with this prestigious national award.

    “Our Family Arts Festival concerts have been a sell-out for the past three years - highlighting that there is a gap in the market for a high quality performance with elements that can be enjoyed by the whole family.”

    The Festival is run by the Family Arts Campaign, whose recent evaluation report found that 61% of organisations reported an increase in work shown for families across the country. Since its beginnings in 2013 the Festival has also included over 500 pieces of newly commissioned work specifically for families.

    Phil Cave, Director of Engagement and Audiences at Arts Council England said: “Encouraging arts organisations to develop their family offer, and to consider the diverse needs of families in Britain today is really important.

    “We are very pleased to continue to support the Family Arts Campaign, it has been a huge success to date and has reached a wide range of people. The Campaign continues to inspire artists, arts organisations and families to engage in a vast range of arts activities across the country.

    “It provides time for families to get together and create shared memories, and to experience the power of engaging with the arts.”

    Planning is already underway for the next Get Creative Family Arts Festival, which will take place throughout October 2016. With extended dates, this year’s festival aims to involve even more families in exceptional programmes of events later this year. Visit the Family Arts Festival website to find out more: familyartsfestival.com.

    ‘The Boat & The Blue’ was supported by Rolls-Royce plc, Derby City Council and Orchestras Live. Sinfonia Viva is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

    find out more