It is many years since Woodbridge has entered its choirs for the Festival (I can vouch for at least 20!), if indeed they ever have, so there was plenty of excitement amongst the singers but perhaps a little uncertainty about what to expect as the buses pulled out of Woodbridge and headed to hosts Orwell Park on Tuesday. It proved to be Cantabile that tested the waters, in the junior classes which ran throughout the afternoon, and our younger singers took to the competition stage as if veterans. The song they chose for the ‘Own choice, junior choirs’ class was ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ – lonely they were not, however. With six in the class they had to be at their best, and earning a rapturously received distinction Cantabile were just that, and took a richly deserved first place. By the end of the afternoon they had added to their trophy cabinet the laurels as winners of the overall Suffolk Festival Junior Choir Championship.
Back to school, relaxation and recuperation, and then two coaches and two choirs set out for the evening’s entertainment. Cantabile, quietly confident; Chamber Choir… fine tuning on the coach (there’s nothing like a singing charabanc).
The Chamber Choir’s ‘Love walked in’ impressed the adjudicator for beautiful tone and harmonies, fine clarity and lyricism to earn a high distinction in the ‘Under 19 choirs Own Choice’ class; Shenandoah won the Open Choral Folk Arrangements class with another high distinction; Bruckner’s difficult ‘Ave Maria’ earned the choir another first place and high commendation. The adjudicator was full of admiration for the technical and musical clarity and mastery, especially for a choir of such relative youth, and hopes that there will be a fruitful search for finding even more passion in performances to supplement such skills (Funky Voices, another of the competing choirs, offering a tremendous example of how raw enthusiasm and obvious enjoyment can help lift a performance).
Meanwhile in another of the open classes Cantabile had returned to the stage to sing in the ‘Song from a show’ class: ‘Feed the birds’. Not a dry eye in the house. Some compositions are just made for a young choir and this must be one; the adjudicator could ‘have listened to Cantabile all night’. Praise indeed – and another first place and distinction!
And then it was time for closing thoughts and the final award for the evening – The Suffolk Festival U20 Choir Championship – our Chamber Choir.
A great day; a valuable experience in managing all that the heat of competition might throw up; and fantastic results with both choirs now champions of Suffolk. Many congratulations to all the choristers, and of course to Miss Weston as well.
1st place: Own choice class (distinction) ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’
1st place: Song from a show/film (distinction) ‘Feed the birds’
Overall winners of: Suffolk Festival Junior Choir Championship (against a large field of competitors)
2nd place: Own Choice (distinction) ‘Love walked in’ Gershwin
1st place: Choral Folk Arrangements (distinction) ‘Shenandoah’ Trad.
1st place: Choral Sacred Songs and Anthems (highly commended) ‘Ave Maria’ Bruckner
Overall winners: Suffolk Festival U20 Choir Championship