8th September 2011
Festival of Choirs returns to the Villa Marina this month
The Royal Hall of the Villa Marina will be reverberating to the sounds of choral singing later this month when the Isle of Man Festival of Choirs takes centre-stage.
The event – promoted by the Department of Economic Development, Tourism Division begins on Saturday 24th September with the class winners in the ladies, male voice and mixed choirs going through to sing in Sunday’s final. There, they will compete for the Choir of the Festival Trophy and a top prize of £1,500. Section winners each receive £500, and a trophy, with a cheque for £200 going to the runners-up.
Around 150 choristers will be travelling to the Island for the occasion with the numbers swelled by family members, friends, and supporters. Biggest party comes from the Macclesfield Male Voice Choir in Cheshire which is 75 strong.
Minster for Economic Development Allan Bell said:
"Last year’s inaugural Choir Festival proved that it had all the hallmarks of a great new competition for the Isle of Man and I hope it will continue to become a regular event. I look forward to welcoming choristers from throughout the UK and hope they will go back home to tell their friends what a wonderful time they have had."
Festival Director and political member for the Tourism Division, Geoff Corkish MBE commented:
"Last year’s event was well received by the choral world and was accepted as a serious, yet friendly, celebration of music-making. I feel the Festival has a great future with many choirs already having expressed their interest for future years.
"Our intention had always been to launch the event and establish it on the choral calendar. Once that had been done we planned to reduce the frequency to once every two years and with this policy in mind our next one, after this year, will take place in early October 2013."
There will be a new name on the Festival Trophy in 2011 as last year’s winners, Keighley Vocal Union, are not defending their title but have pledged to return in future years. Manx competitors will be doing their best to become the first local winners with entries having been received from the Lon Dhoo Male Voice Choir, Manx Voices in the ladies’ section, together with Glenfaba Chorale and Musicale in the mixed voice.
Patron of the Festival again is internationally renowned singer and local resident Moira Anderson OBE, who will carry out the prize presentation, while adjudicator Jeffrey Wynn Davies is a well known choral conductor and trainer. He directs the award-winning Manchester Vocal Group, and former BBC Choir of the Year, Canzonetta, which recently acted as chorus for Bryn Terfel during his tour of the UK and France.
Mr Davies founded the South of England Festival Chorus and also directed the Manchester Boys Choir and has worked with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic and the Scottish Ensemble as well as undertaking the role of Chorus Director to world famous tenors Jose Carreras and the late Luciano Pavarotti.
As an adjudicator, he sat on the panels of International Events in Prague, Verona, Malta and the National Eisteddfod of Wales. His visit to the Isle of Man has a special significance for him as his wife is Manx and hails originally from Onchan.
The format of the competition sees the various choirs singing four contrasting pieces, including one of which must be unaccompanied. The finalists will be asked to put together a concert repertoire of their own choice, not exceeding 25 minutes but with only one piece having already been sung in their class entry.
A welcome evening for the competing choirs raises the curtain on the Friday evening (September 23rd) with the main competition taking place on the following two days. Members of the public are encouraged to listen to the competing choirs and tickets are available either online at www.villagaiety.com or by ringing the ticket office on 600555. Combined price for the two days is £4.
A final night party on the Sunday for both artistes and spectators, with an Oompah Band in attendance, brings down the curtain. Members of the public can purchase separate tickets for this event at a cost of £3.
Mr. Corkish added:
"This is a serious competition but with the accent on friendliness. It is a celebration of music – particularly the choral variety - and what it means, not only to the Isle of Man, but to all the visiting choirs as well."