University singers hit the international stage
The University of Birmingham will be represented on an international stage at this year’s Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, competing in both the Mixed Choirs and Female Choirs competitions.
The International Musical Eisteddfod is not only a renowned choral festival and competition, but a celebration of music, dance and poetry from all over the world. It has been established for over 60 years and was founded in order to heal the cultural wounds of the Second World War. Since then it has encouraged the celebration of each country’s national and regional identity and to celebrate our identity as a top university, Birmingham University Singers will be performing a composition by University of Birmingham lecturer Michael Zev Gordon, and the University Women’s Choir will perform a composition by MA student Jan Wilke. If the choirs are successful within their own categories, they will be put forward to compete in the coveted Choir of the World Trophy, facing the top choirs from across the world.
Led by Professor Simon Halsey, the Birmingham University Singers and University Women’s Choir are chamber choirs formed of the University of Birmingham’s finest voices from a breadth of academic disciplines. Birmingham University Singers (affectionately known as BUS) has been a long standing choir within the Department of Music, performing a mix of sacred and secular music. This year they have celebrated Britten’s centenary, received coaching from the Binchois Consort, and performed contemporary works by David Lang. Last year they formed part of the BBC Proms Youth Choir for the First Night of the Proms. The University Women’s Choir is in its first year, being founded by Simon Halsey to accommodate and nurture the wealth of elite female voices at the University of Birmingham. In their first year they have performed Ceremony of Carols alongside professional harpist Catherine White, celebrated Britten’s centenary in Symphony Hall, sang for Eucharist and Evensong at Worcester Cathedral, and celebrated the 1st year anniversary of the Bramall Music Building. Both choirs also performed under the direction of John Wilson for a G&S Gala concert in February.
Competing in the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod will be a first for the University of Birmingham and, according to sources at Llangollen, a first for central Birmingham. It will be an amazing opportunity for the students involved; alongside the competition itself, they will get to meet fellow competitors from all over the world in the Competitors Club, be exposed to new cultural traditions within the other categories, and either take part in or watch the Choir of the World competition and concert in the evening. The competition will also feature on both television and radio.
Professor Simon Halsey "I'm very pleased to return to Llangollen having had the privilege of being an adjudicator in the past. I love the place and I'm keen for my students to experience the unique atmosphere and the musical distinction that is so special at the Eisteddfod."
This fantastic project and opportunity would not be possible without the generous support from the College of Arts and Law Experience Fund. We would also like to express thanks to the School of Music, the College of Medical and Dental Sciences and the Circles of Influence Campaign for their support.