My friend Fionnuala, who sings with New Dublin Voices, got married at the weekend and a group of us sang at the wedding ceremony. It was a truly lovely event with many delightful details. Needless to say, we broke out some NDV favourites in the bar afterwards. Like, *very* much afterwards. We always do this — doubtless a bewildering spectacle for those in the vicinity…!
Anyway, one of the ones we like to do in these musically-dodgy situations is a cool arrangement (by Carol Canning, for The Swingle Singers) of ‘Lady Madonna’ by The Beatles. Here’s a video of us performing it at a competition in Marktoberdorf, Germany in 2009. I sing the verses 🙂
Played banjo on RTÉ’s arts programme, The View, last night with James Vincent McMorrow.
I also sang carols with some of my fellow New Dublin Voices on the steps of The Gate theatre in full Victorian garb, complete with top hat. They were celebrating the opening night of Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ and it was probably as interesting for us to see the parade of Dublin’s finest heading up the steps as it was for them to hear our singing!
(Quick plug – NDV gigs in John Field Room (11th), St Ann’s (12th), and Blanchardstown (19th).)
Loving the banjo at the moment. I didn’t know that it was actually invented by African slaves in the US by combining different African instruments. (One of the best banjo players in the world is Béla Fleck. I’ve seen him play a couple of times in Dublin. He made a film tracing the banjo’s African roots: trailer looks good…) I’ve been practicing by playing traditional Irish tunes out of a book I found years ago at home called ‘Whistle and Sing!’. It was compiled in 1974 by a man named Eamonn Jordan who lived in Portadown (where I grew up) and it’s an absolute treasure trove of songs, airs, and dance music from Ireland.
Despite not growing up on the side of the fence that celebrated Irish trad music I will be forever indebted to my dad for passing on and fostering a love of our musical heritage. He never learned to play an instrument himself but encouraged me and my sister to play. He brought me along to my first session when we were off on one of our mountain-climbing trips – me barely able to play more than a few chords on my first, high-actioned, acoustic guitar!
This weekend was the 11th international chamber choir festival in Marktoberdorf, Germany, and New Dublin Voices made the trip.
The opening concert was given by Consono, from Köln, who won the top prize at the festival in 2007. We first heard of them then and we learned a piece written for them by Michael Ostrzyga called ‘Iuppiter’. We met the choir at the Cork festival last year and, in a whirl of giddy choral excitement, sang the (amazing, but certainly not ‘light’) piece to the bewildered festival club attendees. While not making us hugely popular with the gathered choir folk that night, it did forge a link between ourselves and Consono (who won the Cork festival that year).
Their performance at the Marktoberdorf opening concert was a real pleasure to behold. One of the best things about these choral festivals is the opportunity to hear other choirs and we certainly listened attentively to the wonderful, disciplined sound of Consono.
It was great, too, to bump into another choir we have become great fans of, the Stockholm Musikgymnasium Choir.
The competition consists of two rounds: the first is a twenty-five minute programme of more ‘serious’ music and the second is a ten minute set of lighter material. In the first round we sang: Musica noster amor (Handl-Gallus), Sonnet No 76 (Janson), Bogoroditse dyevo (Rachmaninov), Bagairt na marbh (Holohan), Ecco mormorar l’onde (Monteverdi), Bealach Conglais (the world premiere of the piece written for us by Ian Wilson), and Rotala (Karlsons).
In the second round we performed: Double double, toil and trouble (Mäntyjärvi), Wade in de water (Koepke), and Lady Madonna (arr. Carol Canning). I sang the verses in Lady Madonna, which was great fun 🙂
The festival was run like clockwork and had a wonderful atmosphere. The competition element was not overemphasised and the organiser, Dolf Rabus, has done an amazing job of cultivating such an inspiring event. One of the exciting and forward-thinking things about it is that all the performances are recorded and videoed, so hopefully I’ll be able to point you to some YouTube links soon…
Leading Irish chamber choir New Dublin Voices has won the Grand Prix at the prestigious Budapest International Choir Competition.
The choir’s founder and conductor Bernie Sherlock also scooped the award for best conductor at the competition which featured 48 choirs from 15 different countries.
New Dublin Voices was the unanimous choice of all ten judges for First Prize, the first time this has happened in 10 years.
The choir travelled to Hungary having just won the inaugural ESB Feis Ceol Choir of the Year at the RDS in Dublin last month.
In the first round, New Dublin Voices beat choirs from the USA, Hungary, Norway and Serbia to come first in the chamber choir class and go through to the Grand Prix Final on Wednesday night.
The Grand Prix featured the winners from each of eight classes (male-voice, female-voice, large choir, children’s choir, etc) in the first round. All ten judges voted to give overall First Prize to New Dublin Voices.
Prize monies totalling €6000 from Budapest and Feis Ceol will allow the choir, which as yet receives no public or private funding, to take up one of only eight invitations issued to adult choirs to compete at the elite Marktoberdorf International Chamber Choir Competition in Germany in June.
About New Dublin Voices
New Dublin Voices, formed by conductor Bernie Sherlock in October 2005, is a non-professional chamber choir of 25 singers. The choir gives regular concerts in leading Irish venues featuring fresh and adventurous programming. Competitive successes include National Choir of the Year in 2006 and 2008 (Navan Choral Festival), several awards at the Cork International Choral Festival, including National Choir of the Festival in 2006, and numerous prizes at Dublin Feis Ceol prior to this year’s inaugural ESB Feis Ceol Choir of the Year. The choir is especially interested in the music of living composers and has given many Irish and world premieres.
About the Budapest International Choir Competition
This was the 12th running of the Budapest International Choir Competition which has taken place every two years since 1981. It is part of the wider Musica Mundi organisation which creates and maintains choral competitions around Europe and which in 2010 will host the 6th World Choir Games in China. This year’s jury panel comprised esteemed judges from Italy, Russia, Greece, Germany, Indonesia, and South Africa as well as from Hungary.