Executive Director Deborah Chadbourn shares her 'Favourite Things' with Sheffield Telegraph
Deborah Chadbourn is Executive Director of Music in the Round, whose chief aim is to inspire audiences with the unique power and intensity of chamber music and to increase music-making opportunities for people of all ages, especially children and young people. Before joining MitR in 2008, she’d worked in arts management across the performing and visual arts. In a voluntary capacity, she sits on a number of arts boards including the Sheffield Music Hub. An avid reader and walker, and an enthusiastic if amateurish gardener, she’s called Sheffield home for thirty years.
The Crucible Studio
I love this unique, versatile performance space at the heart of our special theatre complex in Sheffield. We put most of our concerts on there, and it’s thrilling to be so close to the musicians, you get to see every glance and gesture, and sometimes the only word to describe the experience of the music, played by musicians as talented as our resident group, Ensemble 360, is visceral. I remember the very first time I ever went to a concert there I almost forgot to breath it was so compelling. It’s great for theatre too; one of the most moving pieces I’ve seen for a long time was Forced Entertainment’s gritty two-hander, The Notebook. The space allows for an intimacy between performers and the audience which I think you rarely get elsewhere.
What a treasure trove! The gallery that allows you to breath in a wonderful collection of art from across the centuries - from Sargent’s deliciously intriguing Misses Vickers (what were they thinking during those sittings, and how different were they as characters? The painting teases you with possibilities) and Gwen John’s quiet, elusive ‘A Corner of The Artists’ Room in Paris’ (having read Margaret Forster’s novel, Keeping the World Away, I love this painting even more) to Marc Quinn’s celebratory The Kiss; cool, sensual and surprising. I popped in to see the Pictures of Poets recently and was transported – as I so often am – into a much more reflective frame of mind than when I went in. It didn’t just set me up for the afternoon, it set me up for weeks afterwards. I love the variety of the work on show, and it was great to see it animated by Opera on Location’s delightful production of La Bohème there earlier this year.
Views of Sheffield coming in from the A57 at night
Coming back from gigs, or touring, or visiting family and friends in the east of England I have often find myself driving into Sheffield at night via the A57. The city lit up from one of its surrounding hills is a beautiful image, and reminds you of its endearing geography, but more importantly for me, it accentuates that sense of homecoming you feel on the last leg of a journey. It’s like rounding the corner of your street, knowing that you’ll soon be home, safe and sound. Sheffield welcomes you back and invites you in from the night; a reminder to count myself lucky in two ways, that I have a safe home, and that I live in such a relatively safe, friendly city.
My son and I head for these woods for a quick-fix Sunday walk when we haven’t time for anything more challenging. But there’s still plenty of acreage to walk for a couple of hours and it sums up that sense of Sheffield as a green city with woods and parks enough to lose yourself in less than 15 minutes from the city centre. It’s one of the walks featured in a great book by Rob Haslam, Walking South Yorkshire: 30 Circular Walks Exploring Ancient Woodland which gives the added insight and understanding of the industrial heritage of woodlands in Sheffield, Barnsley and Rotherham. I love to walk, and there are other special places that I’ve discovered or been shown over the years, but Eccleshall Woods has a family feel to it, which I cherish.
Off the Shelf
A rightly acclaimed Sheffield gem; I don’t know how the tiny team of organisers manage to pull this ‘festival of words’ off every year, but I’m so pleased they do. I’ve had my horizons broadened by visiting non-fiction writers talking about the History of the BBC to An Optimist’s Tour of the Future, as well as a less optimistic take on things this year by James Meek, and on the fiction front, been entertained by expertly-interviewed novelists like David Mitchell. We owe a lot to the people, and the funders who support Off the Shelf, thanks to them we have creative, stimulating thinkers on our doorstep every year and not only that, but we get to hear them in a variety of venues which is almost a tour of the city and its intriguing history in and of itself, from the Quaker Meeting House to the well-restored Cathedral, community centres and libraries as well as the Showroom, Crucible and both Universities.
Another family favourite, not just for regular trips ‘to the rocks’ to weasel up and down, or enjoy windy picnics on the top, or to see the skylarks rise up out of the braken, but last August for the Perseids meteor shower. I took a small group of teenagers and we lay on the top of Higger Tor watching small, bright streaks light up the midnight sky, eating chocolate until we got too cold to ooh and aah with delight.
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