The University of Sheffield: Emotion, energy and hope! Leading light in world of classical music to headline concert season at the University of Sheffield

Imogen will perform on Saturday 13 November at 7.30pm at Firth Court, with a second concert the following day featuring a duo by Peter Hill and Benjamin Frith.

Known as one of the greatest concert pianists to have been produced by the UK, Imogen is one of the first performers to be invited to publicly play on the University’s new Steinway Grand Model D piano for the University’s ‘Classics Uncovered’ series.

The curated series hosts an eclectic and thought-provoking programme of musicians each year, including the finest in modern folk, classical recitals, cutting edge contemporary composers and electronic music along with stunning performances from professional and student musicians alike.

Regarded as one of the finest interpreters of Classical and Romantic repertoire, Imogen is internationally renowned for her virtuosity and lyricism. Her award-winning career continues to evolve, more recently, supporting the careers of young musicians with scholarships through the Imogen Cooper Music Trust and recording contemporary compositions.

Imogen Cooper said she was honoured to be one of the first musicians to be invited to perform on the University of Sheffield’s Steinway Model D. Adding: “Experiencing music live is like nothing else. At its best, it’s inspirational, exciting, healing, and the immediacy of a live concert is so different from listening to a recording or streaming, great though that is. We need to get back to being together, sharing music in a space, feeling that synergy between performer and audience.

“I hope the audience experiences emotion, energy, hope, the power of sharing, a renewed love of music.”

Nick Potter, the Music Programme Producer for Sheffield Concert Series from the Department of Music, said: “We are delighted to welcome Imogen Cooper to formally launch our All-Steinway School status at the University of Sheffield.

“This launch concert is a wonderful example of what we hope to regularly bring to Sheffield; world class performers on a truly world class instrument. We are extremely excited about Imogen’s performance and are looking forward to the opportunities and future guests that our Steinway accreditation will unlock for the Concerts series.”

The opening concert celebrates the University being recognised as an All-Steinway School, This prestigious accreditation places the University of Sheffield in a select group of international education institutions considered to offer world-class facilities to its students. The Steinway Model D Grand piano that sits in Firth Court will be used for performance masterclasses, concert recitals and ensemble collaborations.

As well as enjoying an opening weekend, students from the University will be able to take part in a professional masterclass with Imogen to help hone their skills as performance artists as she passes on some of her considerable experience to the budding musicians.

Imogen said: “To be a musician, you must be prepared to work very hard and be clear on your objectives. Don’t be dreaming about glossy photo shoots and packed concert halls, that’s not what it’s about. Love the music, you must need it, have that hunger, develop patience and staying-power – it’s a choice for life!”

Nick added: “We hope that the ability to offer a stage where world-class performances can take place will attract highly-regarded musicians to Sheffield, the best and brightest budding musicians, but also internationally renowned talent like Imogen; and in turn, increase the vibrancy and status of Sheffield’s music scene in the UK.”

Imogen will be joined by Benjamin Frith and Peter Hill who will be performing a duo together on the Sunday evening. Benjamin Frith is one of the leading British pianists of his generation. He won first prize in the Rubinstein Piano Masters Competition, where he was also awarded the special prize for chamber music, and won top prize in the Busoni International Piano Competition.

Peter Hill holds an emeritus professorship at the University of Sheffield, where he worked from 1979 to 2009. He now records for Delphian, with a Bach cycle in progress that has so far seen the release of The Well-Tempered Clavier, the French Suites and the Goldberg Variations. He gives recitals, lectures and masterclasses around the world.

Peter said: “I’m delighted to be helping to inaugurate the new Steinway in Firth Hall in a duet recital with Ben Frith. The programme we’ve chosen is, I think, worthy of the occasion – Schubert’s sublime Fantasie in F minor, a masterpiece by Rachmaninov (the Six Morceaux), and Stravinsky’s extraordinary arrangement for two pianists of one of his most extraordinary works, The Rite of Spring.

“Ben and I have been working together since 1986, and the Rite has always been a cornerstone of our repertoire. Distilled on to a single piano Stravinsky’s score loses, of course, its orchestral colours, but at the same time the dislocations of rhythms, accent and dissonance that so disconcerted its first audience gain a sharper and perhaps even more explosive focus. It’s also stunningly virtuoso: it will stretch us – and the new piano – to the limit.”