27 September 2023
The Chorus was excited to hear that the Stella Jockel Young Composer Competition has been shortlisted for a Making Music UK award in the ‘Best Project with a Focus on New Music’ category. . The competition was organised by the Chorus as part of the 10th anniversary Classical Sheffield Festival Weekend 2023, and culminated in a world premiere performance of the two winning compositions to a sell-out audience at the festival finale at Sheffield City Hall.
The competition, in its inaugural year, attracted fourteen high-quality pieces of music to be judged by a panel of experts which included conductor and composer George Nicholson, Emeritus Professor of Composition at the University of Sheffield, and Chorus Music director Darius Battiwalla. It was set up in memory of former Chorus member Stella Jockel, who supported young musicians throughout her life, using part of a generous legacy left to the Chorus when she died in 2020.
“We wanted to use Stella’s legacy to continue her work by supporting local young composers, who struggle to find outlets for their compositions” explained Chorus President Rachel Copley, “We worked hard to make sure there were as few barriers as possible, so we didn’t charge an entry fee for example, or require recordings of the works. It was a real privilege to be able to make the two winning works come to life in the festival finale”
The text for the competition was set by award-winning Sheffield poet Katherine Towers, and it encouraged the young composers to think outside the box when writing their pieces. Joint winners Mason Birch and James Thomas wowed the judges and the 1,400-strong audience at Sheffield City Hall with their talent and fine ear for composition. All the winners received their prizes from the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Sioned-Mair Richards.
Making Music is the UK’s membership organisation for leisure-time music, with around 3,850 groups representing around 228,000 music makers across the UK. They are dedicated to empowering everyone, whatever their background or experience, to come together in their community to make or present music.