As the sun was rising over Lough Lannagh, Castlebar on Sunday morning, some 150 people gathered at the lakeside to take part in the final event of the second Mayo International Choral Festival. The dawn chorus marked the close of the four day event at which some 1,100 singers and guests took part in concerts, competitions, street performances, and tours of Mayo. The festival programme was launched two weeks earlier, by the UK’s Reading Male Voice Choir.
With 44 choirs taking part, concerts were held in Ballina, Ballinrobe, Ballintubber, Castlebar, Killala, Newport, Swinford, and Westport. The Gala Choral Concert at the Royal Theatre was a fantastic event with the majority of prize-winning choirs performing, and, when the curtain went up for the last two songs, the audience were treated to a choir of more than 500 members, conducted by David Brophy, conductor of the RTE Concert Orchestra.
This year the organisers were taken aback by the large attendance at the competitions, which were open to the public. The Male Voice choir, Cantorian Colin Jones from Wales, received a standing ovation at the GMIT in Castlebar at the Premier Competition adjudication, but it was the visitors from the USA, The University of New Hampshire Concert Choir, that scooped the first prize.
Festival chairman Edward Horkan commented: “We will continue with the winning formula for next year, adding some new surprise elements. Already we have two choirs from the US, two from England, and one from Scotland pencilled in – and four choirs for 2015. All this is very encouraging, and all down to the hard work of the committee, support from Mayo choirs and volunteers, and our main sponsors Failte Ireland and Mayo County Council.”
For more information and competition winners, visit www.mayochoral.com