10 months later, 10 cities visited and 160 choirs of 5,000 singers competing for 6 places in the Choir of the Year Grand Final – it’s been quite a journey!
Choir of the Year 2016 has encompassed a truly eclectic mix of everything that is remarkable about the tradition of choral singing, celebrating choral music in all its styles and opening up the window of opportunity to amateur choirs throughout the UK. From 16th Century chamber choir pieces to David Bowie tributes, all of the choirs competing in this national event have brought something special to the stage and it was down to the judges to make the unenviable decision of selecting just 6 out of those 160 choirs to represent amateur choral music in the UK in the Grand Final.
Competing for the Grand Title were the winners of the youth, children, open and adult category, as well as two ‘wildcards’ selected at the Category Finals in Birmingham. From the beautiful young voices of Jersey-based Musical Originals Training Choir to the contemporary ingenuity of The Rainbow Connection Singers, the Choir of the Year final showcased just how varied this art form can be. With stunning performances from female barbershop chorus, The White Rosettes, as well as powerful pieces from Welsh Male Choir, John’s Boys, and 40-strong youth choir, Cor y Cwm, the competition was fierce. It was Newcastle-based choir, Voices of Hope, that took the title on Saturday, following a mesmerising performance that captivated the audience, and the judges, at Cardiff Millennium Centre.
It has been a privilege to be a part of this wonderful event, meeting with choirs from all over the UK and hearing some of the best choral music of today. In essence, Choir of the Year has felt more akin to a festival of singing rather than a choral competition, where choirs support, celebrate and learn from each other throughout the entire process.
In light of this, the ethos of Choir of the Year 2016 has been centred on progression and development. It has been an opportunity for choirs to pick up new repertoire ideas, perform to a large audience and receive constructive criticism from their choral peers, all with a view to growing and progressing chorally. This was emphasised by Choir of the Year Judge and Musical Director, Ken Burton, who drew on his own experiences of a slow and steady climb to the Choir of the Year title, after several entries to the competition with his own choir.
This message rang out even in the final stage of the competition which highlighted the potential for choirs to learn from the range and diversity of the choral talent that was showcased on Saturday.
Encouraging the ambitions of passionate musicians and providing them with special performance opportunities is at the heart of what we do which is why we have been thrilled to be a part of the biggest choral event of the year for a second time. We are delighted that the Choir of the Year 2014 winners are touring with us to The Rhineland next year and we look forward to working with more choirs looking to take the next step in their choral journey!
A huge congratulations to all of the choirs who took part in Choir of the Year 2016 – roll on Choir of the Year 2018!