Members of the Barnsley Youth Choir have returned home as heroes having surpassed expectations to win one of the categories at the 2014 World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia. The 44 members beat choirs from countries including the USA, South Africa, Australia and Indonesia to take top prize in the ‘Popular Choral Music Open Competition’.
The result was announced in the Riga Arena on the morning of Saturday 19th July, less than 12 hours after they defied the odds and placed as runners up in the ‘Gospel Open Competition’. Their results are even more of an achievement given that both categories were free from age restrictions, meaning that the other choirs they beat were adult choirs.
The World Choir Games was the first ever competition that the Barnsley Youth Choir – formed just five years ago – had entered. It is a huge competition with over 27,000 competitors from 73 countries. The members and volunteers that help run the choir had undertaken the massive task of raising £35,000 in just six months in order to fund the cost of the trip.
The decision to take 44 older members of the 200 strong choir was intended to give them the experience of entering a major choral competition. With choirs from across the globe participating, some of which have been established for over 50 years, Barnsley Youth Choir entered the competition with no expectations other than to gain valuable experience and raise their singing standard to the next level. However, the choir’s scores in both categories were high enough for them to earn Gold Level Diplomas, a significant achievement in choral competition that acknowledges them as highly proficient and technically accurate.
Musical Director Mat Wright said:
“Words cannot begin to describe how hard our young people have had to work to prepare for this event to be able to perform at this standard. Our aim was to go to the games and give a good account of ourselves on a world stage and learn from the experience. We entered two categories, so to return having won one of them and finished close runners-up in the other – and achieving Gold Diplomas in both – is beyond our wildest dreams. These results put the choir and the town on the international map and we have been inundated with people wanting to know more about BYC and the town we are based in. It is wonderful to see Barnsley youngsters becoming such positive ambassadors for Barnsley and Great Britain and this experience will have a profound impact on them.”
Chairperson Ann Wroe said:
“Not only has the standard of their singing put them on the world map, the way in which they conducted themselves throughout the trip is to be commended. They have truly represented Barnsley and Great Britain magnificently.”
In addition to their performances in the competition categories, Barnsley Youth Choir also participated in a parade of nations representing GB, the closing ceremony of the World Choir Games, took part in a ‘Friendship’ concert and attended workshops lead by Professor Thomas Caplin and the world renowned ‘King’s Singers’.
Results Clarification from World Choir Games
Category Title: Popular Choral Music Open Competition
BYC Score: 21.94
Level Achieved: Gold Diploma
Final Standing in Category: Winners
Category Title: Gospel Open Competition
BYC Score: 22.65
Level achieved: Gold Diploma
Final Standing in Category: Runners Up
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