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Manx triumph in Isle of Man Festival of Choirs 29 September 2011

Isle of Man Festival of Choirs winners MusicaleMixed voice choir Musicale became the first local winners of the Isle of Man Festival of Choirs when they claimed the Festival Trophy, and a cheque for £1,500, at the Villa Marina on Sunday. Conductor John Riley received the awards from Festival Patron Moira Anderson and adjudicator Jeffrey Wynn Davies.

It was the second successive year that a mixed voice choir had won the event. In the 2010 inaugural festival, Musicale were narrowly beaten for a place in the final by the Keighley Vocal Union from West Yorkshire who went on to take the overall title.

This year, Musicale won their class and were joined in the final by the Macclesfield Male Voice Choir and another local group, Manx Voices, conducted by Angela Stewart, who triumphed in the ladies voice section. The class winners all received trophies and cheques for £500.

Sunday saw the finalists performing 25 minute concert repertoires of their own choice and in his adjudication Mr. Wynn Davies referred to ‘the afternoon of choral enjoyment’ which had been witnessed by the audience.

Festival Director Geoff Corkish MBE told the competing choristers and members of the audience:

"This is the second Isle of Man Festival of Choirs, as opposed to a Choirs Festival. We very deliberately chose the title because, as a Festival of Choirs what we are doing is meeting, singing, harmonising and celebrating one of the most wonderful gifts in the world – the gift of being able to sing and sing together in friendship and harmony. I thank you for that this weekend."
"The event has been established as a friendly and important festival for choirs to sing and enjoy music with a competitive edge."

In her speech, Miss Anderson said that over the weekend many people had shared her pleasure in choral singing and paid tribute to Geoff Corkish who, she said, had been the catalyst for getting the Festival off the ground. He should be applauded for his infectious enthusiasm for conceiving the congregation of lovers of choral singing which had brought everyone closer together.

There was a new trophy this year, together with a cheque for £250, both donated by Douglas Corporation. The trophy was to be awarded to the most entertaining choir of the weekend, the first recipients being the Blackburn Peoples Choir.

Festival results – Male Voice Choirs: 1. Macclesfield Male Voice Choir 85; 2. Lon Dhoo 84; Ladies’ choirs: 1. Manx Voices 89; 2. Equali Ladies Choir, Cheshire 86; Mixed voice choirs: 1. Musicale 88; 2. Blackburn Peoples Choir 87; 3. Glenfaba Chorale 86.

The weekend concluded with something different for the choristers – an Oompah Night in the hands of the Blaskapelle Oompah Band.

The Festival now moves to a two-year cycle with the next one scheduled for 18th-20th October 2013. The intention of the organisers, Isle of Man Tourism, had been to establish the event on the music calendar and then switch to a biennial programme.

The 2013 Festival may have an international element to it as Mr.Corkish revealed that a representative from a choir in Germany had visited the Villa Marina to assess the event for possible future involvement. English choirs also sent officials to view the Manx event.

Economic Development Minister Allan Bell said:

"The success of the first two festivals has proved to us that this is a new event which is capable of a great deal of expansion in the years to come. It is not only the choristers themselves who boost our tourist industry during one of the shoulder months of the season as the individual choirs bring with them many friends, relatives and supporters. Macclesfield, for instance, brought a party of 75 to the Island."

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