The UK’s best amateur music groups – winners of Britain’s Big Platinum Performance announced
10 August 2022, 08:26
In 2022, Classic FM launched a nationwide search for brilliant amateur music groups across the UK – now we announce the seven amazing winners of Britain’s Big Platinum Performance.
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As part of Classic FM’s 30th birthday celebrations this year and to mark The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, we wanted to celebrate music-making around the country.
Classic FM teamed up with Making Music – the membership organisation for leisure-time music – for Britain’s Big Platinum Performance, created to champion the everyday musician and celebrate non-professional ensembles.
Amateur music performances are an essential part of the musical fabric of the UK and have long been a vital part of the nation’s music history.
A wide range of musical groups, from brass and wind orchestras to choral and chamber groups, submitted recordings of their performances. They were judged on skill, musicality, and choice of repertoire by an esteemed panel of music experts, including Classic FM presenter Myleene Klass, composers Debbie Wiseman and Paul Mealor, conductor Ken Burton and brass musician Carol Jarvis.
Recordings of the winners will be featured by Classic FM over the coming days. They will also be sent to Her Majesty The Queen, who is known for her love of amateur music-making.
The seven winners of Britain’s Big Platinum Performance are:
Carluke Primrose Orchestral Flutes
A postal worker, lawyer, accountants, teachers, students and retirees all help make up the incredible ensemble of Carluke Primrose Orchestral Flutes in Scotland. The ensemble was formed by a group of South Lanarkshire locals in 1938, who were mostly miners from the Castlehill Colliery. They saved from their wages, held sales of garden produce and carried out door-to-door collections to raise funds for the first instruments. Their current conductor is Emma Kennedy, who came up through the ensemble. Together they have recently performed in concerts and competitions including at Glasgow Music Festival and the Scottish Concert Band Festival.
The ensemble said their win “gives us a fantastic opportunity to showcase the unique sound we create using eight different types of flute. We hope Her Majesty and the listeners will enjoy the performance and perhaps even be inspired to take up the flute themselves!”
London Welsh Male Voice Choir
The London Welsh Male Voice Choir was formed in 1902 and quickly gained a reputation for excellence in performance and success in competition in England, Wales and Paris. Disrupted by the two World Wars, the choir was re-established in 1961 and now has over 100 members. The choir has sung at many of Britain’s most prestigious concert halls and cathedrals, has appeared twice at the Royal Variety Command Performance. Every two years, the choir organises and hosts a festival of male choirs at the Royal Albert Hall, which attracts choral participants from around the world.
The choir said: “We feel humbled to be representing the male choir genre across the UK and the Land of Song, Wales, where some of us originally come from. At a time when choirs are working hard to regain a sense of ‘normal’, what better way than to celebrate through making music for Her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee!? We hope you enjoy our performance.”
East London Brass
This group of musicians told us that playing together is all about “community and family”. The musicians rehearse once a week in Walthamstow, East London, but also pride themselves on the relationships they have together outside the rehearsal room. East London Brass is conducted by Jayne Murrill, a renowned freelance trombonist who has played with many of the UK’s top orchestras and bands. Under her leadership, these players have taken part in competitions across the UK and Europe.
“Winning this means a huge amount to us, as a community of amateur musicians,” the group said. “Brass bands up and down the country and around the world are making incredible music, innovating and pushing boundaries constantly. This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase that.”
Birmingham Symphonic Winds
This 45-strong orchestra was established in 1992 by its music director, Keith Allen, with the aim of meeting the demands of players in the area wanting to play with a high-quality wind ensemble. The orchestra is made up of players living and working in and around Birmingham and some who travel from across the UK to take part in the music-making. The players pride themselves on the quality and variety of the music they play, with a strong dedication to the creation and performance of contemporary works for wind orchestra.
“We feel privileged and honoured to be one of the winners,” said the ensemble, “and it is a credit to the musicianship of the players. The orchestra celebrates its 30th anniversary this autumn and this accolade gives us even more reason to mark the occasion in style. Thank you!”
Fulham Brass Band
This group from West London has 27 members. The average age of the band is 25-30 and it is mainly comprised of those who have moved to the nation’s capital for work or study. Together they perform in a mixture of events including community events, self-promoted concerts and private functions and competitions, and were recently promoted to Championship Section (the highest level in brass banding), for the first time in the band’s 125-year history.
“When brass banding is done well, it offers so much to local communities and the wider musical world – we’re excited about representing our own area of music making!” the band told Classic FM.
This brass quintet was formed in 2016 and is made up of students from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Its players originate from all around the UK including Portsmouth, Basingstoke, Manchester and Birmingham. The quintet love to showcase the versatility of a brass ensemble through great music, virtuosity, and creating engaging, entertaining live performances. Curzon Brass also give workshops to both primary and secondary schools, with the hope of inspiring the next generation of musicians.
The ensemble told Classic FM: “Being a winner of this prize means an awful lot to the group and it’s a huge honour to have the opportunity to perform a piece of music for Her Majesty the Queen in her 70th year on the throne.”
These Manchester-based players term themselves a chamber orchestra for the 21st century. The ensemble was formed during the COVID-19 pandemic and aims to bridge the gap between chamber collective and full symphony orchestra. Made up of students and young graduates, Carme Ensemble puts collaboration at the forefront of what they do. Ultimately, this new orchestra says it wants to support and promote all its talented young players, and help them all to take their careers to new heights.
Young composer Sam Kane, who is part of the ensemble and composed the winning piece ‘Three Northern Landscapes’, said: “I’m so excited to share with people my interpretation of the beautiful landscapes, and I’m extremely happy for people to hear more of the Irish language through music.”
‘A vital part of the nation’s musical ecology’
With the announcement of the seven winners of Britain’s Big Platinum Performance, Classic FM’s Managing Editor, Philip Noyce said: “As we celebrate Classic FM’s 30th anniversary and to mark The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year, we’re excited to showcase some of the nation’s hugely talented music groups with Britain’s Big Platinum Performance.”
Barbara Eifler, Making Music Chief Executive, said: “The impressive variety of celebratory music submitted for Britain’s Big Platinum Performance is a fine testament to the vibrancy and richness of the UK’s leisure-time music scene. The contribution of hobby musicians to their communities is a vital part of the nation’s musical ecology, and we’re thrilled to have teamed up with Classic FM to showcase just some of these outstanding groups to millions of listeners, as well as to Her Majesty.”
The nation can hear all the winners of Britain’s Big Platinum Performance. They will be featured on Classic FM over the coming days, beginning with East London Brass on Classic FM’s More Music Breakfast with Tim Lihoreau on Wednesday 10 August. Aled Jones, Anne-Marie Minhall and John Brunning will also feature winners on their shows that day.