New Music Made in Sheffield Shortlisted for Two National Awards

A duo of Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra collaborators have been shortlisted

The Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO) have been kept apart since March, but news of music performed in their 2019 season has brought their hope back together. The SPO commissioned two pieces of new music by local composers in 2019, and both have been shortlisted for Making Music’s 2020 Music Awards. Making Music is the UK’s leading membership organisation for leisure-time music.

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Best Music Creator

Shortlisted for ‘Best Music Creator’ is local composer and potter Tom James (you might recognise him from this year’s series of Channel 4’s The Great Pottery Throwdown!). Tom’s orchestral overture, Mad Meg, was premiered by the SPO at Ecclesall All Saints Church back in March 2019. The piece was inspired by a sixteenth century painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder featuring Dulle Griet or ‘Mad Meg’ - a woman of Flemish folklore, charging towards the gaping mouth of hell, leading a pillaging army of women. Griet was a disparaging name given to a bad-tempered woman of the time, and the painting is thought to refer to the Flemish proverb, “She could plunder in front of hell and return unscathed”. The piece captures Bruegel’s dark and devilish scene perfectly, incorporating motets and folk tunes from the time period to create the haunting and furious overture.

Tom said “I am thrilled that the piece I wrote for the Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra back in 2019 has been shortlisted for this prestigious award. It was a great experience to work with the orchestra and I am so pleased that both mine and George’s works have been recognised by Making Music.”

Best Arranger

Shortlisted for ‘Best Arranger’ is the Philharmonic’s own Musical Director, George Morton with his arrangement of Clara Wieck-Schumann’s, Quatre Pièces Caractéristiques Op. 5. Originally scored for piano in the 1830’s, Clara composed the work when she was just 16 years old.

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The SPO premiered this piece in November last year at the opening concert of their 2019/20 season, alongside works by Wieck-Schumann’s direct contemporaries: Louise Farrenc, Tchaikovsky and her close friend Johannes Brahms. The four short pieces are incredibly charming and were skillfully scored for full orchestra by George.

George undertook postgraduate studies in composition and orchestration at the University of Sheffield and has remained in the Steel City since graduating in 2013. In recent years George has made quite a name for himself and his enchanting orchestral arrangements are performed to great acclaim at venues across the World, published by Universal Edition and 360 Music.

George said, “I'm delighted to be shortlisted for this prestigious award from Making Music. It's really super that Sheffield Philharmonic were directly involved in two pieces to be shortlisted for awards this year, with the orchestra also commissioning Tom James' fabulous new piece, Mad Meg, earlier this year.” He continued, “It's a joy to work with an ensemble who are so supportive and encouraging in creating new music. It's also fantastic to be part of the positive force for good that is the organisation Making Music, who champion leisure-time music makers across the UK. In these times where amateur music is impossible and thousands of musicians across the country are not able to meet up to share their passion, it's wonderful to have Making Music support, encourage and promote the spirit of music-making across all walks of life.

Sophie Anderson, Chair of the Philharmonic commented, ‘The SPO is committed to supporting the creation of new orchestral music and we believe it’s important to commission works by our region’s fantastic composers and arrangers. That Tom and George’s pieces have been shortlisted in two of the four categories for the 2020 Music Awards is a real testament to the outstanding musical talent we have here in the Sheffield city region.’.

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The results of the Music Awards will be announced at an online awards ceremony on the 8th September where the Philharmonic hopes one (or both!) of the pieces will be successful in winning a prize.

Good Luck George and Tom!

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