Ensemble 360

Samuel Worth Chapel, Sheffield
Sunday 15 May 2022, 5.15am

Tickets: £20
£14 Disabled & Unemployed
£8 Students & Under 35s
(includes a hot drink and pastry)

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**Information for ticket-holders**

Parking and Access

At weekends there’s free parking on both Montague Street and Cemetery Road. Vehicle access to the Chapel is reserved for audience members with mobility issues.

Access to the Chapel is from Montague Street. Doors will open and Music in the Round stewards will be available to guide audience members to the Chapel from 5.05am. The path to the Chapel, 2 mins walk on a flat good surface, will be well lit, but staff will also be on hand along the pathway.


Alphorn transcriptions
CASALS Song of the Birds
JS BACH Chaconne from Partita No.2 in D minor BWV1004 (15’)
NISHIMURA Fantasia on Song of the Birds (6’)
HAYDN String Quartet Op.76 No.4 ‘Sunrise’ (22’)
DAVIES Yoik (8′)

Distant horn calls herald the rising sun as musicians from Ensemble 360 salute the dawn in this programme of music inspired by the natural world.

As the darkness gradually recedes and the beautiful Samuel Worth Chapel is flooded with light, the musicians complement the arrival of dawn with performances including the tender ‘Song of the Birds’, a Catalan folksong made famous by the great cellist Pablo Casals. Other treats include Bach’s ‘Chaconne’ for solo violin, a musical force of nature, and Haydn’s inventive ‘Sunrise’ Quartet. Sunday morning will never have sounded so good.

Capacity is limited for this event and early booking is advised. Coffee and pastries included.

Sheffield Chamber Music Festival runs 13–21 May 2022

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CASALS Pablo, Song of the Birds (arr. Catalan traditional song)

The Catalan Christmas carol El cant dels ocells tells of birds singing with joy on hearing the news of the birth of Jesus. Pablo Casals made his cello arrangement after leaving Spain in protest at Franco’s dictatorship in 1939. He played it in almost all his concerts thereafter, including a memorable performance for President John F. Kennedy at the White House in 1961. The song became a musical emblem of Casals’s Catalan homeland, and his self-imposed exile. The great cellist himself made it clear that his reasons for making this arrangement were both musical and political, expressing the hope that ‘these sounds may be like a gentle echo of the nostalgia we feel for Catalonia. These sentiments must make us all work together, with the hope of a peaceful future, when Catalonia will once again be Catalonia.’  


Notes by Nigel Simeone, 2022 

BACH Johann Sebastian, Chaconne from Partita No.2 in D minor BWV1004

‘On one stave, for a small instrument, Bach writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings. If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind.’ This is how Johannes Brahms described Bach’s gigantic Chaconne to his friend Clara Schumann. It is the last movement of Bach’s D minor Partita, composed in about 1720. Probably the greatest single movement ever written for unaccompanied violin, it is an extended set of variations on a short, four-bar idea announced at the start. Bach uses all his ingenuity to create a structure in which unity (the basic theme) and diversity (the astonishingly imaginative variations) are held in perfect balance over a long (256-bar) span. The outer sections are in D minor, while Bach provides tonal variety by modulating to D major for the central section. As Brahms suggested, the result is quite simply one of the marvels of Baroque music.  

Nigel Simeone, 2022 

NISHIMURA Akira, Fantasia on Song of the Birds

The Song of the Birds, played by Pablo Casals (1876-1973) in 1971, was based on a haunting and melancholy folk tune of his native Catalonia. Casals had experienced the horrors of both world wars, and this piece embodied the cello virtuoso’s prayers for peace. When performing it before the United Nations General Assembly toward the end of his life, he stood up and said, “Birds in Catalonia go singing: Peace, peace, peace.” I remember watching a video recording of this scene.

It might be more appropriate to call the piece this time a fantasia based on The Song of the Birds, rather than its arrangement. I wrote it freely, trying to capture the feelings and emotions of Casals, while imagining its performance by Japanese viola player Nobuko Imai. The original piece was written in A minor, but I chose C minor as its principal key to make the most of the viola’s open strings. Casals was one of the most important artists to Mr. Haruhiko Hagimoto; because I have dedicated this short piece to Mr. Hagimoto, and H.H. are his initials, the piece ends with a prolonged H note.

Akira Nishimura 

HAYDN Joseph, String Quartet Op.76 No.4 ‘Sunrise’

Allegro con spirito
Menuetto. Allegro
Finale. Allegro, ma non troppo

This quartet was nicknamed the ‘Sunrise’ on account of its opening idea, an ascending theme on the first violin, heard over sustained chords. It was completed in 1797, and published as the fourth in what was to be Haydn’s last set of six quartets. A strongly contrasting idea in semiquavers is punctuated by short, rhythmic chords. Throughout the movement, Haydn cuts between these two sharply characterized themes, often returning to the ‘sunrise’ idea in ingenious ways. For instance, quite near the start, the theme is heard on the cello, beneath long chords in the upper strings, and this time it heads in a new direction – descending rather than ascending. The variety of texture in this movement is a constant source of delight – a composer at the height of his powers in a genre which he had not only pioneered but also developed to new expressive heights. The slow movement is reflective and unusually free in terms of structure: here the fantasia-like form seems to emerge as a natural consequence of the musical ideas. The Minuet comes as a charming contrast, until the rather austere Trio section where the violins present a serpentine tune, full of chromatic twists, over a drone in the lower strings. The finale is based on a theme that resembles a folk-song, and it has been suggested Haydn may have discovered this tune during his second visit to London in 1795. For the most part, the mood of this movement is jovial apart from a darker central section where the tune is presented in B flat minor. The work ends back in the major, closing with two unusually full double- and triple-stopped chords.

Nigel Simeone © 2015

DAVIES Tansy, Yoik

Tansy and I have been collaborating on nature and the horn for many years. A horn player herself, Tansy really understands the primal connection the sound of the horn stimulates in the deepest layers of our shared human experience.  This aspect of her oeuvre fascinates me and I feel it strongly when playing “Yoik”. The haunting lyricism interspersed with a special playing technique sounding like the resonance found in an icy wind of distant memory is just wonderful. Tansy wrote the following about the piece:

A Yoik is not merely a description; it attempts to capture its subject in its entirety: it’s like a holographic, multi-dimensional living image, a replica, not just a flat photograph or simple visual memory. It is not about something, it is that something. It does not begin and it does not end.

A Yoik is not a song in the sense that it is about something. The melody is closely connected to the referential object in an indissoluble relationship. Linguistically this is expressed through the fact that one does not yoik about somebody or something, there is a direct connection; one yoiks something or someone.

The structure of a Yoik follows the Sami worldview of “No beginning, no end”. Sami see the world as following the circular patterns of nature. Living in a whited-out world of snow, often without horizon; perceptions of space, depth, time and environment are all closely-knit mysteries, to which the culture – and the Yoik – are intrinsically connected.

The name Christine Chapman is transmuted here – into the melody of my Yoik for Horn – so this is a yoik for and of her. The piece was composed by the river Medway in Kent, England. It is also a Yoik for that river, in the early morning.

Christine Chapman