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Fenella Humphreys : Violinist celebrates Beethoven's legacy with Sheffield Philharmonic

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Fenella Humphreys

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of one of the world's greatest composers: Beethoven.

"For me, Beethoven's violin concerto is one of the great works. The scale, the interaction between violin and orchestra, and the emotions he explores are really different from any violin concertos written before, and paved the way for what was to come," says celebrated violinist Fenella Humphreys.

As Humphreys looks forward to her rendition of this classic with Sheffield's Philharmonic Orchestra next week (7 March), she tells us of how she became a household name in this genre, as well as her feelings for the great composer himself.

Humphreys' interest in music started early, but her choice of instrument was no musical epiphany, at least not in the first instance.

"The only reason it ended up being violin was that my older brother started learning, and I always wanted to do whatever he was doing. It was a good choice though!"

The 2018 winner of the BBC Music Magazine's Instrumental Music Award, Humphreys has built an extensive following of fans eager to catch her performances, be it solo renditions or as part of chamber choruses.

My regular chamber music partners [...] always make music come alive in new ways for me

On winning the award, she says: "When you're busy working away it's very easy to think nobody's really all that bothered with what you're doing when there are just so many brilliant musicians out there. So it's properly heart-warming when something like that happens."

Now she is set to take the stage with the Philharmonic Orchestra, a group she's never worked with before. But the familiar face of conductor George Morton will ease the nerves, she says, and ensure it is a night to remember.

Humphreys has enjoyed a career collaborating with a top class of instrumental artists, a gift, she says, which changes the way she views music: "I'm so fortunate to work with so many really great musicians. My regular chamber music partners Martin Roscoe, Jessica Burroughs, Nicola Eimer, Sam Armstrong, Daniel Grimwood, Annabelle Lawson, Cara Berridge and others always make music come alive in new ways for me."

She is a musician with a love for her craft, a happily obvious assertion from her list of her 'favourite' composers.

"I particularly love performing music by Sibelius, Schumann, Bach, Stravinsky, Britten, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Sally Beamish and many more. Right now I'm also really excited about some new commissions I've just received from Freya Waley-Cohen, Laurence Osborn and Oliver Leith."

[It's] just stunningly beautiful music

But what is equally clear is Humphrey's passion for Beethoven's productions, a love that is near-universal throughout the musical world. "So many musical forms were changed drastically thanks to Beethoven's groundbreaking writing, and composers still cite him now as one of their inspirations, so he's still affecting music today. All that aside, the concerto's just stunningly beautiful music!"

The Gift of Music event will feature Felix Mendelssohn's 'Märchen von der schönen Melusine, Op.32', Fanny Hensel's 'Overture in C Minor', Gustav Mahler's 'Blumine' and Beethoven's 'Violin Concerto in D Major, Op.61'.

Sheffield's Philharmonic Orchestra is an organisation sure to do their line-up justice. With the impressive additions of Humphreys, who will play the part of soloist for the evening, it's an event with all of the potential to be a highlight of the year.

General admission tickets are priced at £10

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Alex Keene

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