Shortlist revealed for 2021 Making Music Awards

We are thrilled to reveal the shortlist for the 2021 Making Music Awards, which will form part of an online celebratory evening of musical creativity on Wednesday 8 September.

The awards celebrate leisure-time music groups and their activity, and the often unrecognised talent that helps the sector to flourish across the UK.

The winner of the latest President’s Award (for exceptional voluntary service to Making Music) and the Lady Hilary Groves Prize (for an outstanding contribution to music in the community) will also be awarded.

The winner in a new category for 2021, Group Hero, will be chosen by Making Music members, who can choose from a shortlist of five nominees selected by Making Music staff.

All awards will be announced by Making Music President Debbie Wiseman OBE immediately following presentation performances by the winners of the 2021 Philip and Dorothy Green Young Artists and the Making Music annual general meeting (AGM). Anyone is welcome to reserve a ticket to attend the awards or the AGM, or both, but only full Making Music members can vote at the AGM.

2021 Making Music Awards full shortlist:

Best music creator for leisure-time music group

  • Mark Elvin, Horsham Symphony Orchestra 
  • Neil Brownless, Abingdon Concert Band 
  • Ashley Thompson, Phoenix Singers, Leek

Best arranger for leisure-time music group

  • Michael Betteridge, The Sunday Boys 
  • Paul Ayres, Harrow Choral Society 

The panel for both these awards, headed by Making Music President Debbie Wiseman OBE, also included Sally Groves MBE, Russell Keable from the Kensington Symphony Orchestra and Dorothy Wilson MBE FRSA, Chair of Making Music. On shortlisting, Debbie said: 

'The overall standard was impressively high, and after this difficult period we've had it was really wonderful to see new music being commissioned by groups from all around the UK. Congratulations and thanks to everybody who submitted their work!'

Best project with a focus on new music

  • The Sunday Boys
  • Llandaff Cathedral Choral Society 
  • Bristol Choral Society 

The judging panel comprised Carl Stevens, Arts Council England Senior Manager, Audience Insight & Innovation / Music; conductor and producer Clare Edwards; and Dorothy Wilson MBE FRSA, Making Music Chair. On shortlisting, Dorothy said:

'Once again there was a considerable range of interesting and imaginative projects from across the UK. So much of what had been developed during lockdown and restrictions was truly inspiring. Making our decision was challenging and ultimately we focused on quality, innovation, diversity and community involvement.'

Best vocal music director

  • Themba Mvula, Lichfield Gospel Choir 
  • Hilary Campbell, Chiswick Choir and Bristol Choral Society 
  • Johnny Kilhams, Walton Voices 

Best instrumental music director

  • Hugh Boyd, The Moonlight Mandolin Orchestra (Cambridgeshire Mandolin and Guitar Association) 
  • Samantha Harrison, Elland Silver Youth Band 
  • Robert Baxter, Helensburgh Orchestral Society, Glasgow Chamber Orchestra and Dunbartonshire Concert Band

The judging panel comprised Manvinder Rattan, CEO and Head of Conductor Training at Sing for Pleasure; Conductor Martyn Brabbins; Valerie Taylor, Music Director for Vocal Dimension Chorus and Making Music board member; and Dorothy Wilson MBE FRSA, Making Music Chair. In view of the many excellent nominations for Best music director, Making Music decided to create a longlist for the panel to review and split the category into two awards – one for Best instrumental music director and one for Best vocal music director. Given how impressed the panel were with all nominees, we are publishing the longlist below:

Best music director longlist

  • Andrew McTaggart, Ayr Choral Union
  • Andrew Nunn, Bearsden Choir
  • Anne-Marie Kerr and Fiona Weakley, The Castlegate Singers
  • Kathryn Ridgeway, West Malling Community Choir
  • Leo Geyer, Devon Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Mark Sproson, Enfield Choral Society
  • Matthew Hardy and James Brady, East London Community Band
  • Oliver Till, London Medical Orchestra
  • Stephen Langston, Merchant Voices
  • Tom Newall, Salford Choral Society
  • William More, Seven Hills Chorus

Group heroshortlist for public vote:

  • The Choir with No Name managers, The Choir with No Name
  • Ella Miskin, Vocal Dimension Chorus
  • John and Julie Bradbury-Sharp, Knot Another Choir
  • Peter Steadman, Leatherhead Concert and Arts Society
  • St Neots Choral Society Committee, St Neots Choral Society

Lady Hilary Groves Prize 

  • Derek Harrison

On awarding Derek, Clare Birks, Making Music vice chair, said:

'Derek wins the award for a lifetime of imaginative and energetic leadership of community music, from total novices and schools on up to choirs over 100-strong, from his local village festival to 25 choirs from across Hertfordshire singing together in the Royal Albert Hall. His programming has been purposely diverse, embracing brass and steel bands, percussion, jazz, accordion, chamber choirs and barber-shop as well as the traditional choir+orchestra. With his imaginative, joyful and celebratory approach he has truly enriched the musical lives of his community.'

Free tickets to the Making Music Awards and AGM are now available to reserve online.

Making Music presents numerous awards, bursaries and prizes to individual musicians, music groups and organisations in both the leisure-time and professional music sectors. Find out more