Moate Community School, Co Westmeath were tonight (Sunday, 16 November) announced as winners of the All Island School Choir Competition 2014. Broadcast live on RTÉ One. The Grand Final saw four schools compete in front of an invited audience at Titanic Belfast, which included the Minister of Education for Northern Ireland John O’Dowd MLA, Finance Minister Simon Hamilton MLA and Minister of Education and Skills in the Republic of Ireland Jan O’Sullivan T.D., who jointly presented the trophy to the winning school.
Organised by Co-operation Ireland, in association with RTÉ, the All Island School Choir Competition, presented by Anne Cassin, forms a five-part television series celebrating and encouraging the tradition of choral music in second-level schools throughout Ireland.
The competition saw entries from schools all over the island of Ireland, with 20 schools chosen to perform at regional finals. Four choirs made it through to the final tonight and sang on the steps of the famous replica Titanic Grand Staircase of the iconic building in Belfast: Sullivan Upper School, Holywood, Co Down; Wesley College, Ballinteer, Dublin; Moate Community School, Co. Westmeath; and Regina Mundi College, Douglas, Cork. The overall winners receive £4,000 and each of the other finalist choirs is awarded £1,000.
Winning choir director Lorna Duignan said following the announcement: “I am very proud of this choir. I would like to thank RTÉ, Co-operation Ireland and especially Tommie Gorman for giving us the opportunity to participate at this level. We would not be here without the amazing support and encouragement from parents, staff and management. In particular our Principal Tom Lowry and our Deputy Principals, Maura Murray and Carmel McCormack.
I would also like to thank all in our Music Department, especially Giselle Foley, Annemarie Farrell and Ciarán Brady. The students have worked tirelessly and it is their talent, commitment and enthusiasm that makes it so enjoyable and worthwhile. So again, we are very proud of them!”
Peter Sheridan, Chief Executive of Co-operation Ireland, said: “RTÉ have again created a superb five part television series, extolling the virtues of choral music, performed in our schools throughout the island. I want to thank Titanic Belfast for hosting tonight’s Grand Final. This competition would not have been possible without their support and the foresight of our supporters in Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Education for Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and E-Flow who have come on board this year to sponsor this truly all-island spectacle.
To all the choirs, their directors and teachers, congratulations on making it through to the Grand Final, a rich reward for all the hard work you have put into rehearsals. Your schools, teachers, parents, families and friends will be proud of your achievement here tonight.”
Executive Producer for RTÉ, Tommie Gorman, said: “We are delighted to be able to showcase these talented young people to hundreds of thousands of viewers throughout the island of Ireland. This competition has been a celebration of the ethos of teamwork and friendship promoted in school choirs throughout Ireland. Yet again this year, the dedication and musical standards have continued to be hugely impressive and all the choirs who entered and competed this year should be very proud.”
This year, for the first time, one of the four regional finals was staged in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, the burial place of Brian Ború. For a second successive year, two regional events were held in the magnificent St. Patrick’s College Chapel at NUI Maynooth and The Curtis Auditorium in the Cork School of Music hosted the fourth regional final. All four regional finals were broadcast on Sunday evenings on RTÉ One in the month leading up to the final. Listeners to RTÉ Radio 1’s Today with Sean O’Rourke programme and RTÉ’s lyric fm have also had the opportunity to listen to songs from the range of choirs while the RTÉ Player has showcased additional material from each of the four regional events.
The competition was launched in 2009 and is now in its sixth year. Previous winners include Methodist College, Belfast; Presentation College Ballyphehane, Cork and Wesley College, Dublin.
The adjudicators for this year’s competition were:
Seamus Crimmins, former Executive Director of RTÉ Performance Groups and musical advisor to the Arts Council; Dr Angela Feeney, Belfast Opera singer and teacher; Mark Duley, organist at St Nicholas Church, Galway and renowned chorister; and Dr Geoffrey Spratt, Director of the Cork School of Music and Conductor of the Fleischmann Choir.
For a third year, a choral conducting bursary supported by the Association of Irish Choirs, formed part of the competition and was open to all the choir conductors who participated. The adjudicators nominated one conductor for the prize and this year’s winner was Siofra Cox of the Convent of Mercy secondary school in Roscommon. She wins a week-long course at the University of Limerick.