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

  • 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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  • Musical Giants Take Centre Stage At Final Twilights Concert

    Musical Giants Take Centre Stage At Final Twilights Concert

    Dutch conductor Frank Zielhorst will make his concert debut with East Midlands orchestra Sinfonia Viva at Derby Cathedral on Friday March 3.

    The concert, entitled ‘A Little Symphony in F’ is the final stage of the four-date Twilights series, with late afternoon and early evening performances which has proved to be extremely popular with audiences.

    Twilights has been a partnership between Sinfonia Viva and Derby Cathedral and has been a key element in the Cathedral’s two-year cultural audience development programme which has been supported with a £80,000 Arts Council England grant. 

    The concert, starting at 7.30pm will feature work by classical music ‘giants’ Haydn, Strauss and Beethoven and Frank Ziehorst explained that this varied programme would appeal to a wide range of classical music fans.

    He said: “I am so looking forward to returning to Derby to conduct Sinfonia Viva in Derby Cathedral which is a truly magnificent building with wonderful acoustics.

    “This will be my second time with the Orchestra in as many months having worked with the musicians and composer James Redwood for the performance of the education residency ‘Mechanical Advantage’ at Derby Theatre in early February.

    “This is the first time that I will be conducting the full Orchestra and the programme that we have selected is perfect for my debut.

    “We start with Haydn’s Symphony No 90 which always leaves the audience guessing as Haydn was a real joker – taking the music off into different directions to keep us all on our toes.

    “Strauss’ Horn Concerto No. 1 is a beautiful piece and he is the master of the horn which is a wonderful instrument to take centre stage.

    “We finish the programme with Beethoven’s Symphony No 8 which is a very charming and exciting score. 

    “Described by the composer as ‘a little symphony in F’, in my opinion this is not played enough despite it being one of the Beethoven’s best symphonies and I am delighted that we will be sharing this with the Derby audience.

    “I have thoroughly enjoyed working so closely with Viva over the past few weeks – joining their education residency and then preparing for the Twilights concert in early March.

    “Although the two performances have been very different, they share the same ethos of creating high quality music that resonates with audiences.”

    Frank Zielhorst studied orchestral conducting with Jac van Steen and Kenneth Montgomery at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague and the Conservatoire of Amsterdam, after studying viola with Ferdinand Erblich.

    In June 2013 he received his Master’s degree “cum laude” following a concert with the Brabants Orchestra (Eindhoven). From September 2014 until August 2016, Frank held the position of Leverhulme Young Conductor in Association at the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

    From the moment he started conducting, Frank received opportunities to work with professional orchestras. Early engagements included for example the première of Hochzeiten by Stockhausen at the Radio Kamerfilharmonie and Charles Ives’s Universe Symphony with the Noord-Nederlands Orkest (Groningen).

    Being the first student to graduate from the National Master Orchestral Conducting, he has been a guest with almost all orchestras in the Netherlands, either to conduct them in concert or to receive master classes.

    Since his graduation, he has been invited to work with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the The Hague Philharmonic and the Prague Symphony Orchestra.

    Apart from symphonic conducting, Frank has a special love for stage works. He conducted amongst others performances of Madama Butterfly, Eugene Onegin, L’elisir d’amore and Victor Ullmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis at different companies.

    He also assisted for productions of Turandot, Orfeo ed Euridice, L’enfant et les sortilèges and Intermezzo. With his own ensemble in coproduction with the National Youth Orchestra of the Netherlands, he produced a staging of the modern one-act opera “Death Knocks” by Christian Jost and Woody Allen.

    In November 2013, Frank received the prestigious Kersjes Foundation conducting scholarship, enabling him to continue developing his conducting skills.

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