Closing Gala - Cork International Choral Festival

Cork City Hall

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Despite the poor weather, the 61st Cork International Choral Festival was a huge success, drawing the crowds in even greater numbers than before, and affording both residents and visitors the pleasure of indulging in the very best in music and song from every corner of the world.

One of the most charming things about the five-day festival was the sheer range of sideshows — free concerts and recitals, fringe events, choirs in churches, music in the Masonic Hall and, of course, sunrise at Shandon, on May Day.

RELATED: Singing in the rain at Cork’s choral celebration

The climax was on Sunday night, with the closing gala at Cork City Hall. The fiercely-contested competitions were over, and now choirs from all over Europe had come together to celebrate the sheer joy of singing.

We had the Gothenburg youth choir, from Sweden, with its girls in summer dresses looking like flowers, and creating wonderful sounds with the aid of wineglasses; a Slovenian group that stamped and sang in lively humour; plus superb sounds from various other nations.

Ireland was well represented, too, with the Mornington Singers, the New Dublin Voices, and an unlisted, but rapturously received, addition to the programme — John O’Brien, Karen Underwood, and The Voice Effect Choir, with a couple of spectacular spirituals.What brought the house down, though, was the appearance, en masse, of Ceoltoiri Mhuscraí, from Ballincollig, a large group of every age, from tender to senior, playing music, dancing sets, and singing traditional ballads in the most energetic of styles.

The locals loved it, and the international visitors were up on their feet, stamping and clapping. The organisers of this long-running festival have a sure touch and know how to send everyone home happy.

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