Former Birmingham Conservatoire student wins composition award

JJ Wheeler

JJ Wheeler (Photo © Garry Corbett)

JJ Wheeler, composer, drummer, band leader and educator and now based in London, has won the 2014 Durham Distillery Composition Prize for his composition Homage. JJ studied at Birmingham Conservatoire and gained a 1st class BMus (Hons) degree before studying at the Royal Academy of Music where he graduated with DipRam (Distinction) Honours from the Master of Arts course.

While he was in Birmingham he reviewed for thejazzbreakfast, and you can also read an interview with him in which he describes his recovery from being diagnosed with cancer and his project A Question Of Hope which resulted from that experience.

This competition, sponsored by Durham Distillery and run in association with Durham University Big Band, sought to find the best original composition for Big Band written in 2014 by anyone aged 25 and under.

The press release states:

The simple and all encompassing brief, allowing young composers to write in any style providing it was for Big Band, attracted the support of Pete Churchill and Stan Sulzmann, both of whom judged this year’s competition.

His composition for Big Band Homage was written following the death of Kenny Wheeler and is heavily influenced by Kenny’s characteristic techniques.

Homage will be premiered by Durham University Big Band on Sunday 15th February at Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean Street.  The band, made up and run by students, recently opened the 2014 Manchester Jazz Festival.  They’ve won the Great North Big Band Jazz Festival 3 times in the last 4 years- a record in the history of the festival. Their unique mix of contemporary charts and classic Big Band numbers, alongside talented young players, has made them favourites around the UK.

  •  Tickets for the gig can be purchased here or by calling 0845 6027 017.


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