Winners of 2021 Making Music Awards announced

Making Music, the UK’s membership organisation for leisure-time music groups, has announced the winners of the 2021 Making Music Awards. The annual awards celebrate the creativity of Making Music’s 3,600 member groups, as well as the talent and tireless work of individuals who help to make the UK’s leisure-time music sector so vibrant. 

This year’s awards included two new categories, Group Hero, which was awarded to an individual, small team or committee who went above and beyond to keep their group together through the challenges of 2020, and Best Music Director, for which so many nominations were received that two awards were given – one to a Music Director of a vocal group, and one to a Music Director of an instrumental group. The awards were presented by Debbie Wiseman OBE, Making Music President and award-winning composer, at an online awards ceremony on Wednesday 8 September.

Barbara Eifler, Making Music Chief Executive, said:

'This year’s awards, to no-one’s surprise, carry the sign of Covid. But they celebrate the positives: the amazing creativity and ingenuity displayed by music creators, arrangers, conductors, group members and organisers, in order to continue making music together and supporting each other socially, too. Making Music is proud to highlight, through these awards, the joyous persistence music groups have been showing in the face of adversity. We have been especially touched by the vast number of heartfelt tributes to music directors and group heroes which demonstrate that those who lead and organise music groups make a real difference to people’s lives.'

Debbie Wiseman OBE, Making Music President, said:

'The latest Making Music Awards winners – and all the nominees – have displayed, as usual and despite the challenging circumstances, an extremely high standard of music-making. The tenacity and enthusiasm of the individuals and groups who have come together to create such excellent work is an inspiration to us all here at Making Music, and we are proud to recognise and applaud the creativity and ingenuity of everybody who is moved to make music, through good times and bad. Congratulations to everyone involved in this year’s awards ceremony, and special congratulations to the winners to whom it was an honour for me to present the awards.'

The Making Music Awards 2021 winners are as follows: 

Best music creator for leisure-time music group

  • Neil Brownless, Abingdon Concert Band – Keep the Rhythm Going for concert band. Watch on YouTube

Best arranger for leisure-time music group

  • Joint winners: Paul Ayres, Harrow Choral Society – Where’er you walk (G.F. Handel) arr. for SATB choir and Michael Betteridge, The Sunday Boys – Summer will come again (Swedish psalm) arr. for choir in three parts

Best project with a focus on new music (21st century)

  • Bristol Choral Society – The Mary Otty Christmas Carol Composition Competition

70 submissions were received from all over the world and whittled down to a shortlist of five, which were rehearsed and recorded by the 120-strong choir between lockdowns. The online finale sold 400 tickets for charity.

Best vocal group music director

  • Hilary Campbell, Chiswick Choir and Bristol Choral Society

Best instrumental group music director

  • Robert Baxter, Helensburgh Orchestral Society, Glasgow Chamber Orchestra and Dunbartonshire Concert Band

Group hero (public vote)

  • St Neots Choral Society committee

Nominated by St Neots Choral Society for the innovative ways it kept members engaged during lockdown rather than starting Zoom rehearsals, including a Desert Island Discs project, monthly newsletters, quizzes, selecting favourite clips from previous concerts, and a photography competition for members and their families.

Lady Hilary Groves Prize

Presented to an individual of a Making Music member group who has made an outstanding contribution to the success of their music group or music in the community

  • Derek Harrison

As Music Director of Hertford Choral Society for 44 seasons, Derek has provided the choir of currently 140 singers with both the stability of clear, creative leadership and the confidence inspired by a community figure able to understand and respond to the growing and changing interests of Hertfordshire audiences. Find out more

President’s Award

Presented to a Making Music volunteer in recognition of exceptional service to the organisation

  • Joint winners: Glynne Stackhouse, Chair of Selected Artists Panel (2017-2020) and Stephen Leeder, Secretary of Selected Artists Panel (2011-2020)

The evening also featured performances from our Philip & Dorothy Green Young Artists, which will soon be available to watch. The winners represent the best of the UK’s young musical talent, as well as providing Making Music member groups with an affordable way of booking top-flight soloists for performances.

Find out more about all of the awards Making Music presents.