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Songs of praise for choir festival

Going Out

COLOURFUL NOTE Cllr Al McDonnell, former Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, with Festival Chairman Frank Murray and members of the Russian ensemble LYRA at the gala concert held during the 2017 Mayo International Choral Festival last May. Pic: Alison Laredo

Entry for the popular Mayo International Choral Festival closes tomorrow

The bright, warm and long evenings of May are very much on choirs’ minds this month, with many already signed up for the Mayo International Choral Festival, and others scrambling to get in before tomorrow’s deadline passes. While entry for international choirs to the 2018 festival is now closed, the entry deadline for choirs from the island of Ireland is January 31.
The organisers of the well-established event, now in its seventh year, have been inundated with enquiries, with many choirs hoping to return – a most unusual phenomenon, as choirs tend to visit a different location each year.
The festival takes the form of visiting and local choirs participating in concerts all over Mayo, as well as ‘pop-up’ choir performances on the streets and in public buildings. Many  genres of singing will be showcased, including a cappella, barbershop, Gaelic and Celtic, gospel, musicals, pop and sacred music.
Many of the choirs will also take part in festival competitions, judged by a panel of renowned international adjudicators. All the events, including the competitions, are open to a public audience. Choirs who have participated previously have raved about the fantastic historic venues that boast great acoustics, the friendliness of the Mayo people, the stunning scenery, the efficient organisation and facilities, the relaxed atmosphere and the highly entertaining Gala Choral Concert on the Saturday evening.
Commenting on the run up to this year’s show, Festival Producer, Declan Durcan said: “We are thrilled to see yet again a high level of interest – and we expect even more entries by tomorrow’s closing date. It is heartening and is a testament to the work that goes on behind the scenes and the huge groundswell of support from our hundreds of volunteers and sponsors.”
Durcan also spoke of the festival’s ongoing growth. “Two new competition categories introduced for May this year for smaller choral groups of between four to eight choir members is proving very popular,” he explained.
“We are also seeing that the festival has now become the point of contact for international music groups touring Europe, and we’ve had great reports back from the Netherlands from the ‘Amazing Popkoor’ choir and travelling guests that we hosted in October last. This March we will host and facilitate two large music groups from the USA, and their visits include a school exchange and concerts.”
Chairman Frank Murray is looking forward to his second year at the helm of the Mayo International Choral Festival. He said that he has been ‘overwhelmed’ by the support that the festival receives, from its own executive committee to the members of all the choirs in Mayo, as well as its generous sponsors, particularly Mayo County Council, Castlebar Municipal District Council, Fáilte Ireland, Ashford Castle and many other Mayo businesses.
“We are also extreamly grateful to our loyal and growing public audiences, and the support we get from local media,” he added.

Other events
As well as the festival at the end of May, other events for 2018 include a festival fundraising quiz night, at 8.30pm this Friday, February 2, in The Connaught Inn, Castlebar.
The University of Iowa Concert Band from the US will perform with the Mayo Concert Orchestra in GMIT on March 13at 8pm.
The Cherry Creek High School Choir, Colorado, US, and St Joseph’s Senior and Gospel Choirs will also perform together in Ballintubber Abbey, on Friday, March 23, at 8pm.
All of these extra events are open to a public audience.

For entry forms and further details on the Mayo International Choral Festival, visit www.mayochoral.com, email info@mayochoral.com or phone 094 9023040.

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