Bradford Choirs win Making Music Award


DURING the pandemic, when choirs were unable to meet in person to sing together, one of Bradford’s oldest choral societies and a group of refugee and asylum seeker singers worked together on two digital recordings specials.

Today, six musicians and artists working with the two very different choirs have achieved national recognition – winning the Group Hero Award from Making Music, the UK’s national body for amateur choirs and orchestras.

The annual awards celebrate the creativity of Making Music’s 3,900 member bands and spotlight the individuals who help the UK’s leisure music sector thrive. The ceremony, held last week, recognized the creators and arrangers of music, projects, musical directors and heroes of the group.

In 2021, as lockdown conditions continued to restrict live music, the Bradford Friendship Choir – established six years ago for refugees, asylum seekers and friends – worked with the Bradford Festival Choral Society, established in 1856, to record two songs: Jikelele, a South African song meaning “everywhere” or “universal”, and Here is My Home, an American folk song traditionally sung at Thanksgiving.

The music and production team of Alice Phelps, Fran Wyburn, Thomas Leech, Christopher Pulleyn, Pariss Joseph and James Hamilton collaborated to produce arrangements blending the skills of both choirs. They rehearsed the bands, recorded guide tracks to support their recordings, and provided on-site guidance and materials so members without access to smartphones could make their recordings.

The singers’ tracks were then edited together to create the virtual choir recordings, created in the fall of 2021 when BFCS gave their first post-lockdown performance.

Bradford Festival Choral Sociert and Bradford Friendship Choir team up online to record JikeleleBradford Friendship Choir having fun at a summer party at Horton Farm Park

Receiving the Group Hero award, Fran Wyburn, Music Director of the Friendship Choir, said: “The project was an opportunity to bring singing voices together in Bradford at a time during lockdown when we needed them most… we dedicate the award to Maggie Eisner (former president of the Bradford Festival Choral Society), who played an important role in bringing the two choirs together.

Bradford Festival Choral Sociert and Bradford Friendship Choir team up online to record JikeleleBradford Friendship Choir at a Refugee Week event in Peel Park in June

The winners of the 2022 Making Music Awards have been announced during an online ceremony. The awards were judged by panels of experts from across the music industry, except for the band’s hero award, which was decided by public online voting.

Bradford Festival Choral Sociert and Bradford Friendship Choir team up online to record JikeleleThe Bradford Festival Choral Society is one of the oldest choirs in the city

Barbara Eifler, Managing Director of Making Music, said: “The quality and creativity of bands and artists is evident in the shortlists and winners of these awards. We are delighted to shine a light on these talented bands and the dedicated people who work with them and help keep the UK leisure music industry so vibrant.

Debbie Wiseman, President of Making Music, said, “I am deeply impressed by the talent, musicianship and boundless enthusiasm of not only the winners, but all of the nominees for this year’s Making Music Awards.

“It was a pleasure to listen to such a diverse selection of music, and it was an extremely difficult decision to name a winner in each category, as the quality of music creation, as in previous years, continues to be of the highest level. .”

Bradford Festival Choral Sociert and Bradford Friendship Choir team up online to record JikeleleMembers of the Friendship Choir with community artist Thabo Mkwanazi

In a further accolade for the Bradford Festival Choral Society, its Music Director, Thomas Leech, was shortlisted for Making Music’s Best Music Director award.

Bradford Festival Choral Sociert and Bradford Friendship Choir team up online to record JikeleleMusic Director Tom Leech in action

Nominated for his work leading the choir through a series of ambitious virtual projects during lockdown and maintaining a regular schedule of rehearsals, Tom has already won a prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society award for work in lockdown with the singing program of the Diocese of Leeds, which included working with thousands of children in Bradford.

Said Tom: “It’s wonderful to see the great sense of community between the two choirs – providing a welcome and a musical sanctuary – and the whole team is delighted that the work of BFCS and BFC has been recognized on the national stage. .”

n Bradford Friendship Choir meets in Bradford every Tuesday from 6-7pm. For more details email [email protected]

n Bradford Festival Choral Society always welcomes new members. The choir is delighted to perform Handel’s iconic Messiah for the first time in several years, with “a team of exceptional soloists and an orchestra playing on historical instruments”.

The show will take place at Bradford Grammar School on Saturday November 19 at 7.30pm.

To find out more about the choir, visit

n To listen to the digital recordings made by the two choirs, go to


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