Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus

Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus is one of four shortlistees for the 2024 RPS Inspiration Award. We welcomed the public to vote for a favourite group here on our website from early December 2023 to early February 2024, and drew the biggest number of votes we have yet received for this award. Voting is now closed, and the winner will be announced at the RPS Awards on Tuesday 5 March at Manchester's Royal Northern College of Music. Thank you so much to everyone who voted.

Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus is South Yorkshire’s foremost large mixed-voice chorus, singing a variety of works to a high standard with leading orchestras, soloists and conductors. Led by Darius Battiwalla, the Chorus performs with The Hallé as part of the Sheffield International Concert Season at the City Hall, and other venues across the UK. It has a track record of recording, and regularly performs and records with the Black Dyke Band, topping the classical charts in 2020.

Support is given to members through music-reading workshops and a professional voice coach. The Chorus has taken steps to make participation more inclusive for members with limited mobility, securing Lottery funding for a stair climber which it has since shared with the local community theatre. Looking to attract younger audiences, the Chorus’s own concerts are free to attend for under-18s.

Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus contributes to the wider Sheffield community by supporting various charities and also the work of Classical Sheffield, an organisation for local music-makers. In 2023, the Chorus collaborated with three local non-professional groups to present Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, marking the finale of the Classical Sheffield Weekend Festival in its 10th anniversary year. The Chorus is committed to performing the work of women composers and supporting young musicians, setting ambitious targets each year. In 2022, the Chorus launched the Stella Jockel Young Composer Competition in memory of a beloved chorus member. Composers set the poem Sheffield Nocturne by chorus member Katharine Towers, and the competition was jointly won by James Thomas and Mason Birch, whose works were performed at the finale of the 2023 Classical Sheffield Weekend Festival. The Chorus has since given the premiere of two more of the winning pieces and plans to alternate the competition with a project supporting young conductors from 2024.

Photos: Bill Lam

‘I’m incredibly proud of Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus and our reputation for delivering the goods straightforwardly and with a high degree of reliability. Our amazing professionals push us to very high standards while enabling us to enjoy singing. At the same time everyone is caring and friendly – it makes me really look forward to Tuesdays! It’s been especially great to sing Mahler 2 which is a favourite – a mini-tour with Marcus Posner in 2018, in Monaco with the CBSO Chorus this September, and most of all, the spectacular 2023 Classical Sheffield finale with all our local colleagues. It was a real privilege to sing the competition-winning works by such lovely young composers, and to have played a part in making it possible for them.’
Jo, alto

‘Our brilliant Music Director Darius Battiwalla really pushes us and it’s so satisfying when it all comes together, even with challenging works. I enjoyed Caroline Shaw’s Music in Common Time and Schoenberg’s Friede auf Erden despite being out of my comfort zone! It’s great to be involved in local events, from charity carol-singing to Classical Sheffield, and organising the Young Composer Competition was a particular thrill. We’ve had wonderful feedback from the composers – including Rachel who said: “The competition was a wonderful experience. It was my first attempt at composition and, if it had required a previous portfolio, I would never have been able to apply. The concert was really special, and it fostered a lovely sense of community. I'm so happy I took part.” Sentiments like this make all the work worthwhile!’
Anne, soprano

The RPS Inspiration Award is generously supported by Presto Music.