Now in their second year, the Making Music awards will feature a brand new category for 2021: Group Hero!
The Group Hero Award is for an individual, small team or committee who have gone above and beyond to keep their leisure-time music group together through the challenges of 2020. Now, we're asking you to vote for your favourite Group Hero. The winner will be announced at the Making Music AGM and awards ceremony on Wednesday 8 September.
The staff at Making Music had a really hard time whittling down all the submissions, as countless members have performed truly heroic feats through the pandemic. However, we have managed to create a shortlist of just five nominees - find out what this select few have been up to below!
2021 Group Hero Award shortlist
The Choir with No Name managers (nominated by The Choir with No Name)
The Choir with No Name has many homeless and marginalised members. Sally Debiage (in Birmingham), Ema Quinn (in Liverpool), Alex Procter (Brighton) and Ryan Burke, Asta Sabaskaite and Jessie Reeves (in London) acted quickly when the pandemic struck, contacting as many members as they could to find out if they were ok and whether they had access to food and a secure place to stay, and putting them in touch with local support services. They redeployed volunteers to check in regularly with members, organised food parcels (including a cake for a member on his 80th birthday!), Christmas gifts, uplifting doorstep serenades, and delivered tablet devices to members, making sure they could reconnect with friends, and continue to sing with the choir. The choir managers were key in creating a supportive choir family for their members, many of whom face serious isolation and social disadvantage.
Ella Miskin (nominated by Vocal Dimension Chorus)
Covid-19 left Vocal Dimension Chorus with no option but to enter the world of Zoom and become a series of squares in a silent digital world. Then along came Ella Miskin, sound production student and daughter of a choir member. Ella worked tirelessly recording, editing and producing videos and audio tracks for many projects, including the group's Make Music Day 2020 collaboration with choirs from Australia, America and the UK! When the choir could briefly venture back inside in December 2020, Ella set up and ran the live feed for a Christmas Facebook Live Concert, which reached friends, family and fellow singers across the world. Receiving over 300 amazing comments, Ella enabled the group to spread some much-needed festive joy!
John and Julie Bradbury-Sharp (nominated by Knot Another Choir)
In early 2020, Julie called an EGM to discuss contingencies for Knot Another Choir, becoming the contact for everything: Covid symptoms, concerns, questions, membership, you name it! By April, the choir was meeting on Zoom and Julie was constantly contacting members to encourage participation. She added a popular song each week, building camaraderie and appealing to members to find soloists to perform - whether they sang, played an instrument or recited poetry (which affectionately became known as 'quarantunes'). John co-ordinated the technical side of performance and introduced Slack so the committee could work through problems together. Last autumn, he and Julie found a suitable venue for in-person singing and sourced budget equipment, spending hours working out how to record and livestream sessions for members who were unable to attend - John even provided recordings for those unable to access technology. Zoom sessions also evolved, with John and Julie asking their MD to produce a recording for the local ‘Feva Festival’, where the group won first prize - another huge boost to the choir, which is still very much together!
Peter Steadman (nominated by Leatherhead Concert and Arts Society)
Leatherhead is a small Surrey town without regular live classical music provision, other than the series of free lunchtime concerts Peter Steadman co-founded ten years ago. In summer 2020, Peter proposed rebranding the annual 'Mole Valley Arts Alive' as 'e-Live'. He subsequently commissioned musicians to produce live concert recordings. Sourcing young students mainly from the Royal Academy of Music, the series provides invaluable performance opportunities for those seeking to embark on a professional music career, while giving untold pleasure to a loyal audience, the majority of whom are retirees. When lockdown struck, Peter had one thought: how to maintain the momentum of weekly concerts while we were all confined to our homes. The answer was obvious - continue weekly concerts, albeit now via the internet. Significantly, the virtual concerts were not just playlists. They were themed, closely researched and narrated, originally by Peter and assisted by various members of the charity.
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St Neots Choral Society committee (nominated by St Neots Choral Society)
The winning image from St Neots' photography competition - Storm at Cefalu, Sicily by Melanie Pepper
Rather than start Zoom rehearsals, the St Neots Choral Society committee wanted to explore other ways in which to keep the membership engaged through the challenging months of lockdown.
In 2020, St Neots launched their own Desert Island Discs project, and members submitted music choices to take with them to their island paradise. The 345 musical requests formed an A4 booklet, which was presented to each choir member as their own personal memento of summer 2020. Members have also been involved in writing monthly newsletters, compiling quizzes on a range of subjects, and selecting their favourite music clips from previous concerts - providing a little insight into the person behind the score. As lockdown continued into 2021, the group decided to launch a photography competition for members and their families. 267 photographs were blindly judged by three independent judges, one of whom is a professional photographer. The winners were announced in June and will be receiving framed certificates at their first rehearsal back - hopefully in September! All entries can be viewed on the group's website.
Voting is now closed
Find out the winner of our Group Hero Award, along with all the other Making Music Awards, at our online ceremony and AGM on 8 September. You don't have to be a member to attend - book your free place now and get the champagne in the fridge!