Cornwall International 2019: The Competition

Wednesday 15th May, 2019 - 10:25pm

Cornwall International 2019: The Competition

Competing is like Marmite, you either love it or hate it. Each year, the choir takes a vote on whether to participate in music competitions or not. Based on the choir’s success at the 2017 International Festival, the choir agreed to compete in this year’s Festival in the 41 Voices And Over Category. In the run up to the competition, choir practice was treated as a normal event with three songs chosen from our current repertoire. No extra practices were put on, and therefore no additional pressure was felt by the choir.

The choir entered the 41 Voices and Over Category where we are competing against seven other choirs for some very prestigious trophies. The three competition pieces of music were Mark Hayes arrangement of “The Impossible Dream” from the musical “Man of La Mancha” made famous by Peter O’Toole’s starring role; the rousing song, “Hunker Down” by Canadian composer Tobin Stokes and Dan Forrest’s arrangement of Charles Wesley’s hymn and choral anthem, “And Can It Be”. The hymn was originally written in 1738 to celebrate his conversion.

Due to the large number of entrants in the 40 Voices and Under Category, the competition for Mousehole MVC commenced at 3pm. The choir arrived early and assembled on the lawn outside the newly refurbished Chapter House before being taken inside for some ‘fine tuning’. At 5:00pm the choir were ushered into the cathedral and assembled on stage to face not only a panel of very distinguished judges but also to a Cathedral filled with over a thousand in the audience, no pressure then! Paramount in the choir’s thoughts were the words of one of our previous musical directors, “Our aim is to give a brilliant performance whether a prize be won or not”.

The fifteen minutes on stage passed by in a blur, the choir were now off stage and listening to the final two choirs in their category, and then followed an agonising half hour of waiting for the judges deliberations. Our minds were taken off the agony by listening to The City Of Truro Male Choir, under the musical direction of the musically renowned Cornishman, Russell Pascoe.

The day so far had run with clockwork precision. Back came the adjudicators, Dr Jakub Martinec artistic director of the National Boychoir of Canada, Timothy Wayne-Wright, Counter-tenor (formally with The King’s Singers) and Christopher Gray, Director of Music at Truro Cathedral. The results were read out, in descending order, and much to our surprise the choir came third in class. The choir were pipped by one point in retaining the best overall Cornish Choir (for the whole International) by the Celtic Male Ensemble, but did achieve best Cornish Choir in their class, for which they received the Pendennis Cup.

The judges awarded the choir an overall mark of 83 and were generous in their remarks. For ‘The Impossible Dream’ they felt the choir had “A lovely ‘mp’ sound from the singers that drew the audience in and then a well-paced crescendo, (with) an excellent start.” They then described the choir’s rendition of ‘Hunker Down’, as having “A wonderfully earthy tone which really suited the music. Lovely solos and a gutsy ending. Very well delivered performance, polished sound. BRAVO!” Finally the choir sang ‘And Can It Be’ in which they felt the choir “set a magical atmosphere at the start.”  They also felt that it was a “Beautiful repertoire choice”.

As always there are things for the choir to improve on and which we will take note of. However it is to our musical teams credit that the choir continue to sing at this level and all the choir members would like to place on record their appreciation and a very big thank you to Steve, David and Annette for enabling us to compete with confidence in the world’s most prestigious male voice competition. Meur ras!

(Thanks to Marie Williams and Phil Monckton for the photographs.)

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