Tag Archives: Music in the Round

Guest blog: David Shapiro, Friend of Music in the Round, on Ivor Gurney

David Shapiro, Friend of Music in the Round and guest blogger, talks about a recent discussion group meeting that focused on the poet and composer Ivor Gurney


Ivor Gurney

At the suggestion of Music in the Round, a small group of Friends formed a music discussion group. We’ve been meeting every couple of months for lively and informal discussions of chamber music.  Sometimes we talk about music to be performed in an upcoming concert, listening together to recordings of the works. Or we hear an informal presentation on a related topic.

Our most recent discussion was about the poet and composer Ivor Gurney, in anticipation of the concert At the Front on 17th May with pre-concert talk by Tim Kendall.

“I knew little of Gurney, and was eager to learn from others in the group more familiar with his work.”

Jane Clements, who had sung Gurney’s songs, introduced us to Severn Meadows, the only published setting by Gurney of his own words, and played recordings of By a Bierside, In Flanders, and Sleep. Jane found a similar relationship between voice and piano as in Schubert’s songs. Geographer Margaret Roberts brought along a recent book by her colleague and friend Eleanor Rawling: Ivor Gurney’s Gloucestershire: Exploring Poetry and Place.  Writer and creative writing teacher Liz Cashdan shared her responses to some of Gurney’s poems, noting for example the musicality of their rhythms, reflecting the influence of Gerard Manley Hopkins. We talked about Gurney’s experience of the Great War, including both comradeship and trauma. As a retired clinical psychologist, I was drawn to speculate about the nature and origins of the mental health problems that resulted in his long-term hospitalisation, during which he wrote many fine poems, long unpublished. By coincidence, Tim Kendall’s BBC4 programme, Ivor Gurney, the poet who loved the war, went out that evening so we watched it together.

“It was exciting to bring together our disparate strands of insight into Gurney’s music and poetry.”

Music in the Round’s concerts have informed my lifelong musical learning for 30 years, extending and challenging my appreciation of a widening repertoire. The discussion group adds a new dimension, as I learn from fellow audience-members, some of whom I thought I knew quite well, things I didn’t know they knew.  This can only deepen the bonds amongst us.   These bonds add to the intense quality of shared concentration we’ve been said to communicate to the musicians playing for us in the Studio.   Music in the Round plays a big part in all our lives.

David Shapiro


Visit our website for more details of the At the Front concert on Thursday 15 May at 7.15pm, featuring music and songs by Schumann, Barber, Butterworth and Gurney, performed by Matthew Brook (baritone), Anna Markland (piano) and Ensemble 360.


CAST: Glittering!

CAST outdoor perfs

Friday night saw the opening of CAST, Doncaster’s new purpose-built venue, and Music in the Round were lucky enough to get an invite.

The evening began with outdoor performances in Sir Nigel Gresley Square in front of the venue. The atmosphere was electric. There was music, dancing, and even pyrotechnics!
Crowds gathered to watch, listen and even join in with an anthem specially composed for the occasion by local duo Rita Payne.

Opening night - 6th Sept 2013

There was a wonderful feeling that this is a space for everyone as CAST Director, Kully Thiarai, announced the building open and the crowds flooded, or conga-ed, in.
The fun didn’t stop there as we took our seats for the first production ever to grace CAST’s main stage; The Glee Club. An entertaining song-filled play written by Doncaster-born playwright Richard Cameron, it tells the story of a group of miners from Edlington – a superb performance and incredibly fitting for Doncaster.

The night closed with Kully taking a photograph of the audience present for this momentous night and a few inspiring words from the Arts Council who have shown such great commitment to the project throughout its development.

Opening night, Matt Bugg playing on the roof - 6th Sept 13
Sheffield–based musician Matt Bugg plays the violin from the roof

A programme of events continued over the whole of the opening weekend; most of it free and open to all, inviting the people in to have a look around their new space. There was storytelling, music, a chance to try Indian dancing, create a piece of art, join in a Music Box workshop with Polly and Tim, and much more. Local artists, professional, student and amateur, filled the spaces with creativeness as thousands of people came in to take a look around.


There was a lovely vibe throughout the whole weekend; a real sense of occasion and of this being something really special.

After exploring the venue we’re really excited for our concert at CAST on 8th February next year with Ensemble 360, Beechfield Youth Orchestra and Boyce Chamber Orchestra. It would be great to see you there!

Kathryn, Project Co-ordinator


New music for new venue

From this September Doncaster will have a brand new performance venue. CAST boasts a 600-seat theatre, a smaller flexible auditorium, workshop spaces and a café and bar.


A while ago we were approached by the people behind CAST to work with them on a project for the building’s opening season. They wanted to do something new, something unique and something that was for everyone that at the same time kept its heart in high quality classical music. Shadow Game was born.

Shadow Game is a brand new work that’s been written by the incredibly talented composer Charlotte Bray who, according to The Evening Standard’s 1000 Most Influential Londoners, has already “emerged as one of the outstanding composing talents of her generation”. Her time is much-in-demand so we’re delighted and very lucky that she’s found the time not only to write the piece but also to join us in Doncaster for the premiere performance.


The piece is in Sinfonia Concertante style for four members of Ensemble 360; Naomi (horn), Matt (clarinet), Juliette (flute) and Gemma (cello) and a chamber orchestra of amateur musicians. We’ve received such positive reactions from local groups and are delighted that the Boyce Chamber Orchestra and the Beechfield Youth Orchestra are joining forces with Ensemble 360. The two groups will also have the opportunity to work with musicians from Ensemble 360 and Charlotte in advance of the performance. 

The World Premiere of Shadow Game, plus other music by each of the groups, will take place CAST on Saturday 8th February 2014, 7.30pm. Get the date in your diary now!

We still have £5,000 to raise towards the cost of this project and sincerely hope that you’ll support us and Ensemble 360, not only by joining us on 8th February (and bringing all your friends with you!) but also by buying your very own bar of the work. Watch out for more news on our Buy a Bar scheme or how to make a donation in the autumn on our website.

By Tracy Bryant, Project Manager (@tracymitr)