Convent JB choir wins Silver

The Convent JB choir performing at the 4th Vietnam
International Choir Competition
The choir from SMK IJ Convent Johor Baru, also known as Convent JB, joined 39 other choirs from 15 nations to participate in the 4th Vietnam International Choir Competition recently.  Held in the UNESCO heritage town of Hoi An, the event included competitions and concerts performed at various indoor and outdoor venues.  The event kicked off on April 29 at the Hoi An Theatre where choirs from 7 nations and 2 continents presented choral performances.  Friendship Concerts were also held at four different open-air venues with performances by German, Philippine, Korean, Vietnamese and other international choirs.

The choirs in the Choir Competition competed in various categories of Level I and II difficulties such as Male Choirs, Female Choirs, Mixed Choirs, Chamber Choirs of Mixed Voices, Folklore, Children’s Choirs, Youth Choirs, Mixed Youth Choirs and Sacred Choir Music. When the competitions started on April 30, the Convent JB choir performed Warisan (Sudirman Arshad), Butterfly (Mia Makaroff), a medley of songs from the musical Mama Mia and a song in Latin, Da Pacem Domine (Charles Gounod), in the Youth Choirs of Equal Voices G2 category on a stage in a ballroom of the Hoi An Beach Resort.

The vision of Gunter Titsch, president of INTERKULTUR, the event organiser is to create a worldwide connection of people from all cultures by bringing together choirs and singers of all ages, colour or ideology in peaceful competition.  His idea for “World Choir Games” or Olympic Games of choir singing, have united thousands of people from more than 100 countries since 1988.

For more than twenty years, the INTRKULTUR competitions have been among the most innovative events in the international choral scene.  Competitions, carried out according to the Musica Mundi quality seal, make overall comparison of choirs that have participated in the competitions, possible.  At Hoi An the panel of judges in the competition comprised choral professionals from Vietnam, Denmark, Japan and Indonesia.

At the end of the final song, Warisan, the Malaysian
flag was proudly unfurled!
With experience garnered from participating in a choir workshop in Vienna and a previous competition in Hong Kong, the 32-member choir from Convent JB is distinguished as the only choir in the event with a peer conductor.  While other choirs had professional conductors, Shereen Goh Minn Yee, 17, who was choir conductor since last year, did a commendable job.

“We learnt a lot from this competition, especially from the judges’ feedback regarding our pronunciation for the Latin song,” said choir president, Zoe Ong Shi-Ying, 17.  Ong appreciates the coaching they received from Dr Masashi Kishimoto, a music lecturer based in Kuala Lumpur whom they met at music workshop last year.  She also acknowledged Rohan De Lanerolle Jr, a choir coach based in Sri Lanka, who made two trips to JB to give valuable advice to the choir. 

Ong observed that many competing choirs have the added advantage of being trained as chamber choirs while the Convent JB choir is a secondary school choir.  “Our experience here has shown that there is still room for improvement and we aim to focus on sharpening our vocal skills and less on actions,” she added.

The choir from the Philippines emerged the winner in the Youth Choirs of Equal Voices G2 category with 21,75 points for the Gold II Diploma but the Convent JB choir scored a close and commendable 19,28 points to clinch the Silver IX Diploma.  The total of 41 Gold and 12 Silver Diplomas awarded at the competition was proof of the advanced level of the event.  The Hoi An Choir Prize 2015 went to PSM Unpar Tabela Harati, a choir from Indonesia conducted by Harry Priono.

A version of this was published in The Malaysian Insider on 9 May 2015

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