Making Music is proud to champion and celebrate leisure-time music groups and all those who work with them. We present annual awards for best music creator and best music arranger, who are nominated by Making Music member groups they have worked with. Some of the music creators and arrangers have agreed to share their work for performance with other leisure-time music groups.
Below you can listen to recordings of some of the original pieces, and read accompanying notes to help you identify which piece might work best for your group. We look forward to many more performances of these wonderful new compositions - let us know if you're thinking about performing them!
Neil Brownless, best music creator 2021
'As Musical Director of Abingdon Concert Band, Neil was very keen to encourage band members to participate in inventive ways to keep everyone playing while rehearsals weren’t possible. He wrote his original piece, Keep the Rhythm Going, as a tribute to all of the musicians that 'kept the rhythm going' with online performances while they weren't able to perform in person. The composition works to the strengths and weaknesses of the regular band but the first performance of the piece, via a collage of individual performance videos, was opened up to players from around the world, attracting 108 players to submit videos for the virtual world première.
'The piece is designed to be uplifting to provide some positivity in what was a difficult time for all of us who love making music. Within sections, parts were written at different ability levels to enable as many musicians as possible to take part. Some conservatoire trumpet players joined in and took the part up an octave which added another dimension to the composition for the performance, but was left out of the score so that the piece remains accessible to many bands for public performance.'
Paul Ayres, best arranger 2021
'We began rehearsing online and making virtual recordings quite early in the process of Covid-19 restrictions, using music selected by our Music Director, Simon Williams. In searching for appropriate pieces, he spoke with our accompanist, Paul Ayres, who is an established and highly regarded composer and arranger in his own right. They both felt that Paul’s arrangement of Handel’s aria Where’er you walk would be an excellent choice. Handel wrote the piece as part of his opera Semele where it is sung as a tenor solo but Paul’s new arrangement is for SATB choir.
'The reasons for it being so suitable for us include the fact that it is a lively, well-known and cheerful tune, making it particularly enjoyable to sing during a time when spirits may generally be low. Furthermore, although the arrangement is challenging in places, it is not difficult to learn – an important attribute when much of the choir’s preparation had to be done in glorious isolation, unsupported by fellow singers! Paul also made a major contribution to the learning process by taking regular sectionals , courtesy of the Zoom ‘break-out rooms’ facility. He would either take the tenors & basses or the sopranos & altos, alternating each week with the Music Director. Having the arranger on hand throughout was invaluable. Before embarking on the arrangement, Paul established that the piece is out of copyright with no restrictions.' - Peter Miller, Harrow Choral Society
Michael Betteridge, best arranger 2021
'In winter 2020 our musical director Michael Betteridge was planning an outdoor immersive choral experience based in the car park we had been rehearsing entitled Voices of the Polar Night in which audiences would be blindfolded then encircled by the choir who sing folk songs from the Nordic countries as well as texts from Icelandic folk tales and the Kalevala. ‘Summer will come again’ formed part of that cancelled programme. Firstly, the arrangement was specifically arranged for the cathedral like acoustics of the car park embracing the boomy reverb that the surroundings offered.
'Secondly, at a time when not many members were attending rehearsals due to the cold (it was 4 degrees one week!), Michael created something in three parts with some unison singing to aid learning in what were short rehearsals (only 60 minutes) for limited numbers (18 max – 3 groups of 6). Thirdly, Michael did what he often does in arrangements and ensures every part has something interesting to sing with both the tenors and the basses getting the melody at different points. He utilised the range of the choir and created a fantastic emotionally journey that the choir loved to sing. Finally, Michael’s rewriting of the words provided an amazing opportunity to look to the future in a year full of disappointment and frustration.' - The Sunday Boys
Visit Michael's website and contact him directly for further parts
Aleksandar Kostić, best music creator 2020
Nominated by Eclectic Voices
'Aleksandar Kostić’s composition Hymns to the Night is made up of disarmingly simple motifs that are deeply emotional and evoke ancient civilisations. It immediately captures the attention of both die-hard classical music lovers and those who rarely listen to classical music. His motifs gradually interweave to create magical and complex moods and climaxes. There is wonderful interplay and support between the orchestra, choir and soloists.
'Our choir is an amateur, auditioning choir. Our MD Scott Stroman sets us great challenges, such as Bach’s B Minor Mass and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Hymns to the Night presented more rhythmic than harmonic challenges and we were encouraged to learn by ear as much as possible. The piece was a great learning process for us and also for the orchestra.
'We performed the world premiere of Hymns to the Night in Berlin. Kostić was still composing parts of it while we were rehearsing in London and was reacting positively to our MD’s suggested changes. Their musical relationship goes back to 2010 when we performed the premiere of Kostić’s Song of Songs. With Kostić based in Berlin and us in London there was continuous email and phone communication between Kostić and Stroman after each rehearsal. Scores would be amended accordingly. Kostić came to London shortly before the concert and his enthusiasm for how we were progressing greatly encouraged us. He was also involved in the pre-concert rehearsals in Berlin. The choir would love to work with him again.' - Eclectic Voices
George Morton, best arranger 2020
Nominated by Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra
'As George Morton is also our conductor he has a deep understanding of our orchestra’s capabilities. He arranged Clara Schumann’s Quatre Pièces Caractéristiques for us in 2019 and as well as being a top-quality arrangement, it also pushed the ensemble to a comfortable degree. George’s arrangement captured the essence of Schumann’s original piano score, with colourful textures, instrumentation and character threaded throughout.
'Due to his position within the orchestra, George was able to easily communicate with the orchestra about this arrangement. He confided in players about how their parts are set out as well as making any necessary edits promptly. Feedback was well received by George and he was able to effectively explain his musical choices to players. There were not many issues from the orchestra as George had ensured that our parts were as free from errors as possible.
'The arrangement is excellent and was a unique piece for the Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra to perform. From the intricate woodwind writing, to the clever string and brass orchestrations, George was able to really grasp the charming character of Schumann’s piece and apply it to a much larger ensemble. George had the hard job of trying to sell this piece to an orchestra where most people did not know the original, and he certainly achieved this as we were rehearsing it.
'George has such a deep understanding of the music he is orchestrating and often shared interesting nuggets of information from his orchestration processes. This really engaged the orchestra, who soon fell in love with the piece too.' - Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra
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