Chorus diversity work celebrated at the 2024 Royal Philharmonic Society Award evening

Wednesday 6 March 2024

Representatives from the Chorus had a marvellous time at the 2024 Royal Philharmonic Society Awards evening, held on Tuesday 5 March at the Royal Northern School of Music in Manchester.  The Chorus had been nominated for a  Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Inspiration Award sponsored by Presto Music – widely regarded as the BAFTAS of the classical music world and a sought-after achievement by both amateur and professional musicians.

Sadly the Chorus didn’t win‘ said Chorus president Rachel Copley, ‘but it was wonderful to see our names up on the huge screen, and film of us performing the winning works from our ground-breaking Young Composer Competition in the City Hall. Classical Sheffield’s Festival Weekend was blazoned up there for all to see, fantastic recognition of our collaboration with colleagues from Sheffield orchestras and choirs at the performance of Mahler’s second symphony for the finale concert

Recently introduced into the awards list, the ‘Inspiration Award’ is for a non-professional ensemble or individual who works with such groups, in recognition of the remarkable constellation of such music-makers. Described by The Sunday Times as ‘the biggest night in UK classical music’, the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards are classical music’s annual good news story, shining much-needed light on inspirational individuals, groups and initiatives whose music has lifted hearts and minds across the nation.

The Chorus was delighted to have been shortlisted out of an outstanding pool of groups and music-makers, and thrilled that the winners were Derwent Brass based in Belper in Derbyshire. “We work regularly with the fantastic Black Dyke Band‘ explained Chorus Chair Joanne Briddock, “So we have a real affinity with brass band music and although it would have been great to win, we were thrilled to be pipped to the post by this innovative band”.

The nomination celebrates the choir’s efforts to increase diversity and its support for young musicians, in particular the Stella Jockel Young Composer Competition, which was brought to life at the finale of the Classical Sheffield Festival Weekend 2023. The competition, in its inaugural year, attracted fourteen high-quality pieces of music to be judged by a panel of experts, including conductor and composer George Nicholson, Emeritus Professor of Composition at the University of Sheffield. Two of the shortlisted candidates won the top prize, and received their prizes from the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Sioned-Mair Richards.

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 1400-strong audience at Sheffield City Hall with their talent and fine ear for composition. The competition was set up in memory of former SPC member Stella Jockel, who supported young musicians throughout her life, using part of a generous legacy left to the Chorus when she passed in 2020.

Read about the Chorus nomination

Read more about the Awards  including the 2024 winners