An award-winning chamber choir from Newcastle is doing its bit to support choral composers to remain connected with the wider musical world during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Voices of Hope, a choir formed in 2011 to sing a one-off memorial concert for the British Heart foundation, has gone on to enjoy huge success over the past nine years winning National Choir of the Year, becoming Let the Peoples Sing Finalists and performing in distinguished venues all over the UK and Europe.

Like many groups, their music and live performance has been severely impacted by lockdown and the choir that usually meets weekly in Fenham, has been reduced to virtual rehearsals and performances.

“Voices of Hope is a choir of around 20 singers aged 20 -70 years-old,” said Choir Musical Director, Mark Edwards. “And while we are continually striving to develop our collective sound, we also pride ourselves on supporting each other as friends which has been so important during lockdown.”

In a bid to reach out to composers and tap into music that had been written during lockdown the choir launched a competition to find a choral composition that Voices of Hope could perform, giving the composer the opportunity to hear their new work brought to life.

The competition was launched on social media in July and it attracted word-wide interest with more than 150 entries from countries including New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Russia, India, Spain, North and South America.

“We were absolutely blown away by how many entries we received from all six continents,” said Mark. “The standard of the works was incredible, and it was a really, really tough decision to pick a winner as there were so many pieces that were fabulous.

“Judging was carried out by members of the choir with support from guest judge, and friend of our choir, Will Todd, one of the UK’s most sought-after, versatile composers.”

The winning composition is by Chris Williams, a piece titled ‘A gift to sing’ which the choir will record virtually in the next few weeks.

“Winning is a such a wonderful surprise and a tremendous boost to my creative confidence,” said Chris. “I can’t wait to hear the performance by Voice of Hope.”

Special recognition was also given to a second piece by Steve Locks titled ‘Hopeful for Voices Raised’ which will be performed live by the choir as soon as live performances can resume.