MUSIC Vocal chords in chorus for choir festival

Over 1,000 singers will take part in the third Mayo International Choral Festival, which starts this Thursday, May 21 and runs until Sunday, May 24. The singers will be performing songs from many genres, including jazz, pop, folk, barbershop, sacred and gospel music.
The fourth festival, the only county-wide choral festival in Ireland, will see 37 international, national and Mayo choirs participating on a competitive and non-competitive basis. The event will include a number of evening and daily countywide performances.
International choirs include the Nebraska Wesleyan University Choir from the US, the English Chamber Singers from the UK, Voz Nua from Portugal, and the Oban Gaelic Choir from Scotland. On the more local side of things, the festival will also include a presentation by historian Anne Chambers on the life and times of the famous Mayo-born soprano Margaret Burke Sheridan in Mayo County Library, Castlebar, on Thursday.
Six community concerts will take place all over the county, with local and visiting choirs performing at each. On Friday, the festival opening concert takes place in Ballintubber Abbey, featuring guest choir Enchiriadis from Dublin. Other concerts on Friday include concerts in Ballina, featuring The English Concert Singers; Newport, featuring Coda; and Swinford, featuring the Oban Gaelic Choir. On Sunday, at 6pm, Crossmolina will host Voz Nua, while Westport will host Nebraska Wesleyan University Choir and Symphonic Band at 8pm. All of the concerts support local charities.
Saturday is competition day, with the adjudications of the competing choirs taking pace in Castlebar. The competition is open to the public, offering a great chance to see all the choirs singing at their best. In between the competitions, the choirs will perform short outdoor street performances and also perform at Mayo Memorial Peace Park, weather permitting.
At 8.30pm on Saturday evening, the prize-winning choirs will perform at the Gala Choral Concert in the Royal Theatre, Castlebar, during the Premier Competition, which will also feature a guest appearance by Tenor Seán Costello. At the close of this event, all the choirs will sing two songs, as a massed choir, the highlight of the festival, with over 700 taking to the stage in previous years.
On Sunday, everyone is invited to sing at the Dawn Chorus at Lough Lannagh Carpark, Castlebar, at 8am. The festival closes with a concert in Westport in the Church of the Holy Trinity, at 8pm.

For more information, see or facebook/mayochoral. Tickets on doors and from local outlets. Tickets for the Gala Concert are available from 094 9023111, and, from May 22, the festival office at the Royal Theatre, Castlebar.

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