18 - 22 October 2023

International Competitors

The Oak Tree of Derry International Competition returns this October with five competitors from Estonia, Norway, USA and Ireland.

The competition will take place on Saturday 22 October in the beautiful surroundings of the Guildhall and results will be announced at the Closing Gala Concert on Sunday 23 October in Millennium Forum.

Dublin Youth Chamber Choir, Ireland

Lynsey Callaghan


Since 2017, Dublin Youth Chamber Choir has grown to become one of Dublin’s most vibrant music organisations. DYC comprises four Junior Choirs, Training Choir, Youth Choir, Chamber Choir, DYC Singers, and one half of the Cross Border Youth Choir. DYC has won numerous awards in a short time, including first prize in RTÉ Lyric FM’s Choirs for Christmas Youth Choir Competition in 2017. In Feis Ceoil 2019, DYC won both the Youth Choir Competition and the overall Oliver O’Brien Award.

Dublin Youth Chamber Choir has performed in the National Concert Hall and in the National Gallery of Ireland, received coaching from the BBC Singers, and undertook a recording project for the Royal Albert Hall. Dublin Youth Chamber Choir also won the Youth Choir competition at the Cork International Choral Festival in 2019 and was named Champion of the Youth Choir category of the European Choir Games in Sweden later than year. Following their success, they were invited to perform twice at Áras an Uachtaráin for President and Mrs Higgins.

The choir continued rehearsing online throughout the pandemic and look forward to many exciting projects in the near future.

Eller Girls' Choir

Estonia Külli Lokko

eller girls choir

Eller Girl’s Choir was founded in 2010 when a choir studio emerged at Heino Eller Tartu Music College. Its singers are young women aged 17-24 who study at various high schools or universities in Tartu, and the choir’s current members have been singing together since October 2021.

Taking part in international competitions and festivals has been an important part of the choir’s activities, alongside concerts at school and in Tartu. In 2017 the choir took part in City of Derry International Choir Festival and returned with 1st prize, also earning the Bishop’s Gate Hotel Award for an outstanding performance of a work composed before 1750 by performing “Fair Phyllis” by John Farmer. In April 2018 Eller Girls’ Choir won Grand Prix at the 14th Estonian Chamber Choir Festival and in the same year 3rd place at the International Baltic Sea Choir Competition; in July 2019 the choir took part in the Montana International Choral festival. This year the choir was awarded 2nd place at Estonian Chamber Choir Festival 2022 and also 2nd place in the Cork International Choral Festival 2022.

The choir’s repertoire mostly consists of contemporary Estonian and international choral works and Estonian folk music. In October 2021 Eller Girls’ Choir celebrated their 10th birthday and the same year was announced Choir of the Year 2021. The love for making music together, creating a warm atmosphere on the stage for each other but also for the audience and enjoying each other’s company is the binding force that has kept the choir together all this time. The founder and chief conductor of the choir is Külli Lokko.

Embla, Norway

Ketil J.B. Belsaas

embla norway

Embla is a Norwegian female choir consisting of 22 singers, from the age of 20 to 55. The choir was formed in 1994 by singers studying Musicology at the Department of Music at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. Some of whom are still members of the choir today, but just as many are new members not connected to the University.

The name, Embla, stems from Norse mythology. Embla was the first woman on earth (i.e. Eve), and is associated with creativity, quality and artistic growth – all of which are qualities the choir itself aspires to be associated with.

Musically, the choir is first and foremost known for its homogeneous and beautiful sound/timbre. This is the result of the founder and former conductor Norunn Illevold Giske’s extremely targeted and focused work, overlapped by Ketil J. B. Belsaas in August 2021.

The choir has a repertoire ranging from folk music to new Norwegian compositions. Embla aims to initiate and make known new music for female choirs and have commissioned many works from Norwegian composers including Ståle Kleiberg, Trygve Brøske and Eva Holm Foosnæs.

The Park Singers, Ireland

Órla Gillan

park singers

The Park Singers was founded by Seán Creamer in 1970, taking its name from the Phoenix Park school where it was based in its early days. Many of its original members sang in the National Children’s Choir and Dublin Secondary School Girls’ Choir and wished to carry their love of choral singing into adulthood.

Órla Gillan, one of the musical directors of the National Children’s Choir, took over as conductor in 2009. Since taking charge of the Park Singers, she has led them to successes in performances at home and abroad, including winning Best Female Choir at the North Wales Choral Festival in 2010, Irish Choir of the Festival at the Cork International Choral Festival in 2011 and winners of the Female Choir competition in 2016 and 2019. Female choir winners at Mayo & Derry International Choral Festivals in 2014, 2015, 2018 and Champion Grand Prix winners at the Sligo International Choral Festival in 2016. The choir has also picked up numerous awards at the EBS Feis Ceoil, Bangor Choral Festival, Arklow and Navan Choral Festivals.

The Park Singers perform a wide and varied repertoire and have a particular interest in performing works by contemporary Irish composers.

The Washington and Lee University Singers, USA

Shane Lynch

international competition

The University Singers, the premiere choral ensemble at Washington and Lee University, continues to be recognised as one of the finest a cappella choirs in the region. Under the direction of award-winning conductor Shane M. Lynch, the University Singers tour nationally or internationally every year, performing a wide variety of literature across the globe while serving as artistic ambassadors for W&L in concert series, festivals, competitions and conventions. The University Singers have been recognised for their excellence in performance by the American Choral Directors Association, the Virginia Music Educators Association, multiple international competitions, and in featured programs at major venues such as Carnegie Hall, the National Cathedral, and the Academy of Music.

On campus, the University Singers are the centrepiece of multiple events and lead the ChoralFest, which honours America’s top conductors and composers. Student members of the University Singers represent a wide cross-section of the programs offered at the school, routinely representing over 30 of the 37 undergraduate major concentrations and the law school. Membership in the University Singers is chosen by a competitive audition process each spring.

  • Lottery Funded arts council of Northern Ireland
  • Derry City and Strabane District Council
  • Arts and Business NI
  • Enkalon Foundation
  • Allstate
  • Alchemy
  • Tourism NI
  • Citi
  • Caldwell & Robinson
  • City Hotel Derry
  • McGuinness Properties
  • FinTru
  • Bishops Gate Hotel Derry
  • Contemporary Music Centre
  • Sing Ireland
  • Ulster University
  • CFN