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Estonian Girls’ Choir crowned winners as the City of Derry International Choir Festival 2017 exceeds all expectations

Estonian Girls’ Choir crowned winners as the City of Derry International Choir Festival 2017 exceeds all expectations

Following an exciting and euphoric final Gala Concert in St Columb’s Hall last Sunday evening, the City of Derry International Choir Festival 2017 drew to a close. Over five song-filled days, Europe’s fastest growing choir festival hosted 2,000 talented singers from all over Europe and welcomed more than 10,000 music-loving visitors to the city and surrounding area.

One of the festival highlights came at the final Gala Concert and Awards Ceremony when the very excited and emotional Eller Girls’ Choir emerged as overall winners of the prestigious Oak Tree of Derry International Trophy. The Estonian choir, comprising students from the Heino Eller Tartu Music College, were awarded an outstanding final mark of 94.1%. The Laetare Vocal Ensemble from Ireland were runners-up, with Chantage from England placed third.

The festival launched with special guest artists The Real Group from Sweden, who received multiple standing ovations for their a cappella performance of jazz, folk and pop favourites.

For the Thursday Gala Concert, a packed Guildhall was treated to a performance of two different versions of Gloria, one by Poulenc and the other by Rutter. This concert featured a Festival Chorus of more than 100 singers, including Codetta and the Ulster University Chamber Choir, accompanied by Catherine Ennis on the organ along with Festival Brass and Percussion, with members drawn from the Derry and Strabane area.

There have been many memorable performances over the first five years of the festival, but Friday’s Gala Concert featuring the world-renowned choir Tenebrae performing Joby Talbot’s Path of Miracles can now be counted among the most impressive. They were also joined by two local choirs – Codetta Youth Girls’ and the Ulster Youth Chamber Choir – for a performance of Owain Park’s Footsteps.

The festival also focused on emerging vocal talent with the Primary & Post-Primary Competitions. Holy Family Primary School, Omagh, went home with a double win, taking first place in both the Primary Unison and Primary Partsong competitions. First place in the Post-Primary Unison/2-Part went to St Mary’s College, Derry, while the 3/4-Part was won by Thornhill College Senior Choir, who also took home the Bishops Daly and Mehaffey Award for an outstanding performance in the school competitions.

Cappella Lyrica from Cork made it a double celebration over the weekend with the talented all-female choir taking first place in the Youth Choir Competition and also emerging winners of the National Female Voice Competition. Portadown Male Voice Choir from Armagh won the National Male Voice Competition and the winner of the National Mixed Voice Competition was Lumina, Waterford.

This year’s festival saw the first presentations of a number of new special awards with St. Joseph’s Boys’ School, Derry, taking home the Bernadette Kelly Memorial Award for Most Promising School Choir and Melodies and Memories/The Glissando Greats taking home the Derry City and Strabane District Council Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Festival for their wonderful guest performance in the National Competitions.

Created as a joyous celebration of choral music-making in Derry~Londonderry, this year’s impressive participation of international choirs from throughout Europe, along with capacity audiences for all the events, have now firmly established the City of Derry International Choir Festival as a key fixture on the international choral calendar.

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