Preparations are at an advanced stage for the second Mayo International Choral Festival, which will take place from May 23 to 26. The festival is open to competing and non-competing choirs, and choral groups from the US, Finland, Scotland, England and Germany have expressed interest, in addition to choirs from Mayo and all over Ireland. The closing date for entry is January 31.
The festival Chairman and founding member, Edward Horkan, stated that “while we cannot guarantee last year’s weather highs of 26 degrees on the weekend, we do promise some hot performances, competitions and a very warm welcome to our festival! We were delighted with last year’s success, when 33 choirs took part. We have now forged links with many international choirs, organisations and adjudicators. Having some of the world’s top adjudicators means we can be seriously considered by choirs when they choose what festival to travel to next.”
Edward stressed that it is not all about competitions, and that non-competing choirs are equally welcome. “Last year, we had concerts all over Mayo, and at each concert a local choir and a visiting choir performed, giving a chance for visiting choirs to mingle with local choirs and audiences, with many memorable moments.” For one lucky couple, the choir from Finland made their special day extra special. On their way to a concert in Ballina, the choir stopped at Pontoon and ended up singing a song for the bride and groom at their wedding at the Pontoon Bridge Hotel.
Organising the festival
The 2013 festival was launched in November by Minister Michael Ring TD, who commended the festival chairman, Edward Horkan and the committee. He was delighted to see that the festival was part of the Gathering 2013, and he wished the festival every success.
When asked about putting together a festival of this size, Declan Durcan, Festival Director, stated “like any festival, there are many balls being juggled at the same time, but it makes for a very fulfilling role.
“Mayo has really embraced the concept of the only county-wide choral festival in Ireland. It’s a big challenge to host a festival in several locations spread out all over the county, but when the communities are behind you it makes it a lot easier.
“One of the other key components is the support of the choirs from Mayo and this has been astonishing. We now also have a festival administrator employed to assist us. It bodes well for future years. We are indebted also to our volunteers, sponsors and supporters.”
The festival is also introducing a fringe festival, called ‘On the Edge’, this year. “We are also very excited about the new ‘On the Edge’ aspect, which pertains to Mayo’s location on the edge of Europe, next to the Atlantic ocean, and incorporates the festival’s fringe events, which take place outside of the main festival’s dates. One such event is a concert by the renowned Reading Male Voice choir from England, with director Gwyn Arch MBE, taking place in Castlebar, May 11. Mayo choirs will also perform on the night.”
Choirs – competing and non-competing – that wish to register for the Mayo International Choral Festival must do so before January 31. Forms can be downloaded from www.mayochoral.com. 094 9024421