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We all know of course that Sheffield's Crucible Theatre is the perfect venue for snooker, with those watching seemingly able to suspend themselves over the green baize as the balls are knocked about. But of course it's also perfect for chamber music, especially in the smaller sized studio theatre, where as an audience member you can sit right up next to the business end of a violin bow. The Sheffield Chamber Music Festival takes brilliant advantage of this, with a fully stuffed ten-day programme, and it wasn't a surprise during my visit to see the theatre fill up, even for a 5pm wind chamber concert, not always everyone's cup of tea.

This year's programme was programmed by brilliant composer Helen Grime, and I really enjoyed the pre-concert public chinwag we had before the performance of my sextet Airs from Another Planet. I wished I could have heard the whole of this festival, which ended with Brahms' First Serenade - and when did you last hear that? Credit must also go to Ensemble 360, the resident ensemble for the year Crucible's all-year Music in the Round programme. And if I may, I'll single out pianist Tim Horton. Having expertly dispatched my own very tricky piano part and that of Mozart's K452, he politely excused himself to brush up the late Beethoven Sonatas he was about to play an hour or so later. I envied the citizens of Sheffield for their fine cultural environment.

Pictured - yes, this is Sheffield (Winter Gardens).





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