The Parish Centre at St Comgall’s has once again gone back to normal use after what was another fabulous Choral Festival! The choirs may have all gone back home, the Organisers may be taking a well-earned rest, at least for a couple of weeks before next year’s Festival plans begin, but the Festival memories will live on in the hearts and minds of all the competitors, organisers and Adjudicators alike.
Every year the Festival just gets better and better and this year the choral standard was extremely high with the Adjudicators having a very hard task in making their judgments. Some of the choirs were seasoned Festival competitors but we also had several new choirs competing for the first time with all of them commenting on the friendly welcome they received and how much they enjoyed their first competitive choral experience. The Festival Organisers would like to thank all of the competing choirs for the hard work and effort put into their performances.
From primary schools through to Adult Choirs the wonderful choral sound was heard over the four days of competitions and the friendliness and support was there for all to see. The Adjudicators always remark on the high standard of choral excellence which we have in our Province and indeed in our Borough and this year’s Adjudicator, Rob Elliott, commented exactly that and in particular recognised the fabulous choral work and teaching which goes on within our schools, the standard of which he would rarely see anywhere else in the UK. He remarked on several significant school performances in particular from Bangor Grammar School Chamber Choir and Glenlola Junior Chamber Choir in the Senior Schools competitions and also Millisle Primary School who won 4 awards in the Primary School Competitions. We have such wonderful local talent here on our doorstep from these schools as well as from St Columbanus College and Sullivan Upper.
The Special School competition was again an amazing day with all the children participating and enjoying every minute and, of course, they enjoyed their party lunch afterwards! The Adjudicator was given a very difficult task of judging the performances in these competitions. Such wonderful talent from exceptional children!
Saturdays competitions gave the Adjudicators, Rob Elliott and Judith Watson plenty of difficult decisions to make due to, again, the exceptionally high standard of the choirs, resulting in very close marks. The competitors, in particular, displayed camaraderie between the choirs which emphasized the aims of the Festival - all inclusive, friendly atmosphere, but offering such a high standard of competitions and overwhelming support for each other. However, at the end of the Festival, it was homegrown talent which won the day in the form of Open Arts Community Choir from Belfast winning both the Light Entertainment Competition and the coveted Open Choral Competition. Top awards for a top choir!
We were also very fortunate once again to have the Saturday competitions recorded by Producer, John Anderson, for the BBC Radio Ulster ‘Sing Out’ programme which will be broadcast in June and we also had a Swedish Television Company following one of the Welsh Male Voice Choirs - they filmed not only the competitions but the activity and atmosphere around the Festival showing the camaraderie which emanates from choir to choir. This footage will be included in the programme – Men Who Sing.
The Festival Committee would also like to recognise the financial support received from their major sponsor Ards and North Down Borough Council both in the Arts and Tourism Sections and to their other sponsors, Melville Morgan, Oasis Travel, Signature Works, Guillemot Café and Deli and Marine Court Hotel. In the harsh economic climate where funding is in short supply and difficult to obtain the Festival Committee are indebted to our Sponsors and indeed private donations from Festival Friends, without whom we could not stage such an event on this scale.
So, roll on 1 st – 4 th April 2020 when we hope to see many new choirs and of course many longstanding choral friends return again to the Festival for even more music friendly rivalry!