2022-23 Young Composer Competition: the finale concert

The culmination of the competition was a prize-winning ceremony and world premiere of the two winning works, at the finale concert of the Classical Sheffield Weekend Festival on Sunday 19

Reuben, Rachel and James, Lord Mayor, Head Judge George, Mason and presenter Trisha

March 2023. The ceremony was presented by BBC Radio Sheffield’s Trisha Cooper and the winners were presented with their prizes by the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Sioned-Mair Richards. The works were sung by Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus and Hallam Choral Society conducted by Darius Battiwalla, Music director of Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus.

The premiere was followed by a performance of Mahler’s 2nd symphony by Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra, Hallam Sinfonia, Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus and Hallam Choral Society. Conducted by George Morton and featuring acclaimed singers Anna Harvey and Ella Taylor, both from Sheffield, this brought the 10th anniversary festival to a spectacular close.

“It was splendid to see the commitment shown by the fourteen local young composers who submitted their work for the competition. Mason’s piece shows an impressive sense of harmonic movement, while James employed a very convincing and effective structure. Though different, we all agreed they were equally fine, and we were pleased to award first prize to two worthy winners.’ George Nicholson, Emeritus Professor of Composition at the University of Sheffield, Head Judge

‘Thank you for performing my piece; it was so surreal being able to finally hear my music performed live in person’ Mason

‘The competition was a wonderful experience for me. It was my first attempt at composition, and if it had required a CV or previous portfolio, I would never have been able to apply. The celebration concert was really special, and it fostered a lovely sense of community. I’m so happy I took part.’ Rachel

‘Many thanks for organising the competition, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed composing for it. The feedback is fantastic, thank you.’ Reuben

‘I’m utterly thrilled to have been given this opportunity. I’ve tried to write something that leaves space for the music, that has moments of both quiet and drama – and that contains as many sing-able vowels as I could manage! I’ve greatly enjoyed the challenge, and it’s been such an interesting (and different) experience to write something in the knowledge that music would be coming its way.’ Kathy Towers, poet

Ella Taylor and Anna Harvey sing Mahler 2

‘What a triumph! From the original ‘I’ve got an idea’ moment to the wonderful 10th anniversary Festival, Classical Sheffield has been an outstanding success.  It is now part of the fabric of musical life in Sheffield and public awareness has risen exponentially. I’m so proud to have hosted our two brilliant concerts at the City Hall this weekend. The crowning glory was last night’s grand finale.  Not only did we pull of the highly ambitious Mahler 2 but to have commissioned a world premiere of such quality and poignancy is really special.’ Trisha Cooper, BBC Radio Sheffield, presenter

‘I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Great concert and great audience’ Cate Jockel

‘What an INCREDIBLE finale, the atmosphere was absolutely electric throughout – not only a sensational performance of Mahler 2 but two beautiful world premieres by Mason Birch and James Thomas, winners of the Stella Jockel Young Composer Competition!’

‘Amazing! It was opportunities like this that helped me become a professional musician. Glad to see music is thriving in Sheffield.’

‘It was a fantastic concert – thank you’

‘It was thrilling to listen to! Well done all. What a night’