3:23 p.m., Nov. 1, 2010----The University of Delaware Chorale won three second-place awards and a third-place award at the 42nd International Tolosa Choral Contest in Spain, placing in every category in which it competed against choirs from around the world.
Appearances at the festival, held in the Basque region, are by invitation only, and UD was one of two U.S. choirs that participated this year, along with 20 other groups from Europe, Japan, the Philippines, Ukraine and Russia. The University Chorale was invited because of its 2007 first-place award at the 10th International Choir Festival in Tallinn, Estonia.
Prof. Paul D. Head, chair of the Department of Music, director of choral studies and director of the UD Chorale for 14 years, said before the festival's closing winners' ceremony Monday morning that the experience at Tolosa was “absolutely amazing” for himself and the 48 singers.
“Given the selective nature of this competition, we are proud to take our place amidst what surely can be deemed as some of the world's finest choirs,” Head said.
“The Chorale has had an amazing trip with standing ovations at every performance this past week throughout the Basque region, and the enthusiastic recognition they received from the audience during the competition was absolutely incredible, including the distinctly European accolade of synchronized clapping -- an honor offered only to the best of the best.”
When the Chorale arrived in Spain last week, members traveled to a series of small villages in the Basque region and sang in local churches before moving on to the main festival performances and competition over the weekend.
George Watson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who attended the festival, praised the chorale for the “level of excellence” shown in its performances and in the audience reactions to the singing.
“Seeing you on stage four times during the closing ceremony in recognition of your four awards and witnessing the depth of your talent, commitment to each other and passionate dedication to making beautiful music has moved me deeply,” Watson told Head and the Chorale members. “You have represented UD, Delaware and the U.S. in a most significant way, by touching and inspiring others' lives -- of many cultures -- through your music and grace.”
Head noted that participating in the festival was great exposure for the University, but he said the greatest value of the trip was the motivation such competitions bring to the students.
“It pushes your musicianship to a higher level,” he said.
The Chorale will celebrate its return to Delaware, as well as UD Homecoming, with a concert on Sunday, Nov. 7.
Article by Ann Manser
Photo by Kathy Atkinson