The Maynooth University Chamber Choir have been named as “Choir of the World” at this year’s Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in Wales, historically becoming the first Irish choir to lift the coveted Pavarotti Trophy.
Under the watchful eye of director Michael Dawson, the choir stormed through their category earlier in the festival to be championed as the competition’s reigning “Youth Choir” and earned their chance to represent their category in last weekend’s “Choir of the World” competition.
Following a breath-taking performance from the Co. Kildare university choir, they were awarded with the Pavarotti Trophy, beating off choirs from Singapore, the USA, Wales and England.
“We didn't go to win at all and were completely shocked when we did. USA were top class and note perfect and we really expected them to take it,” choir member Erin Dollard told IrishCentral.
“It was so nice to be rewarded for the work we put in though. We rehearse twice a week for 2.5 hours with sectionals on top of that. We also have 2 rehearsal weekends in the year and would do more coming up to concerts.
“In Wales then we practiced pretty much non stop but had no room to do so, so we rehearsed outside in sun/rain etc.”
Michael Dawson, who has directed the choir since 2012, was thrilled that his years of dedication had paid off.
Speaking after their win, he said, “Amazing, what a night. In fact what a week we have had here in Llangollen. This is a dream come true.
“We have enjoyed everything about our visit from singing mass in a local church and been treated to such wonderful hospitality. To win this magnificent trophy is just amazing and we are all absolutely thrilled and over the moon.”
The years that Dawson has put towards the choir is telling sign of the dedication required from all its competitors to reach “Choir of the World” status.
“I first came here as a 17-year-old and sang as part of a competing choir,” he said. “To return here now aged 25 as a conductor and to win is just unbelievable.”
President of Maynooth University, Professor Philip Nolan commended the choir on their achievement and said: “While the term ‘world-class’ gets used often, the Maynooth University Chamber Choir is one entity that is truly deserving of that description, and this win clearly demonstrates that.
“The entire University community is extremely proud of the Chamber Choir for this impressive achievement and for its role in spreading Maynooth’s reputation for excellence around the globe.”
This is not the first time the university choir has met with success. Made up of some of the third level institute’s best singers, the choir challenge themselves throughout every year and have performed in Armagh Cathedral as well as touring New York, Albany, Indiana and Chicago. Consisting of twenty singers, the choir also took part in the Canta en Primavera International Competition 2014 in Malaga
A Northern Irish group also raised the top dance award Llangollen Eisteddfod with Loughgiel Folk Dance coming away with the Lucille Armstrong Trophy for the second year running.
Since 1947, Llangollen Eisteddfod has been one of the world’s biggest and most influential cultural festivals. Hosted in Llangollen in north-east Wales, 4,000 performers and 50,000 visitors descend on the small Welsh town for six days of music and folk dance.
The famous Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti himself competed in the festival with his father in 1955 as part of that year’s winning male choir. On the 50th anniversary of his participation, Pavarotti added his name to the world title trophy in 2005.
If you would like to see more of the winning performance from the Maynooth University Chamber Choir and the performances of other choirs from around the world please visit: http://llangollen.tv/choir-of-the-world/?lang=en