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Entertainment and the Arts : Music : Cór Mhaigh Eo Last Updated: 2, Apr 2018 - 10:02

Mayo Choral Festival Launch
By Declan Durcan
27, Jul 2011 - 22:22

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Michael Ring Junior Minister for Tourism and Sport officially launched the New ‘Mayo International Choral Festival' which takes place in May 2012, at the Mayo Association Worldwide Convention in Hotel Westport.


Minister Ring stated that as a major festival it is geared to attract a large number of choirs from abroad at the start of our tourist season, and would give a great impetus to the local economy in the early part of the year.
Pictured at the launch of the Mayo International Choral Festival (MICF), during the Mayo Association World Convention, are: Left to Right, back row, George Lee Accompanist, Mayo Male Voice Choir, Michael Basquill, Mayo Male Voice Choir, Declan Durcan Festival Director MICF, Gerry Needham, MICF committee member, Front row. Declan Marley, Mayo Association Galway, Councillor Eugene McCormack, MICF Committee member, Deirdre Lee, Music Director, Mayo Male Voice Choir, Minister Michael Ring, Ann Marie Gibbons, Soprano & MICF Committee member, Eamonn Horkan, Chairman Mayo International Choral Festival. Photo by John Moylette, L.I.P.P.A., N.U.J.

He congratulated the organisers for developing the festival to this extent and assured that they would have his full support. He appealed to the various organisations involved in choral music in Mayo to get involved and help to make the festival an outstanding success.

Prior to the Minister's launch, Festival Chairman Eamonn Horkan outlined the progress to date.

First of all, he thanked the Mayo Association World Convention Committee for giving the Mayo International Choral Festival the opportunity to launch the festival, particularly Sean Reid, Chairman, Michael Morley, Secretary and Donal Downes, who was his initial contact.

He asked the Mayo Associations worldwide to encourage choirs from their various countries, to travel to Mayo next year and partake in the festival.

He explained that the idea to host an International Choral Festival in Mayo came as a result of his involvement in organising the Concert for the opening of the Mayo Memorial Peace Park with Michael Feeney M.B.E. With 7 choirs on stage at the Royal Theatre he mentioned to Pat Jennings that Mayo could organise an International Choral Festival with all the great facilities we had in Mayo - The Royal Theatre for a gala concert with all participating choirs involved, the various towns for accommodation and local choirs to host and arrange concerts with visiting choirs for various charities, the various concert venues, the schools and the regional college, the choirs to sing at religious services varying from small local churches to the larger ones like the Basilica in Knock. All combined would assure the Festival would be a major success.

Thus the seed was sown, a small executive committee was formed initially, to see if it was feasible, Festival Chairman Eamonn Horkan, Festival Director Declan Durcan, Enda McDonagh, Treasurer, Ann Marie Gibbons, Soprano originally from Louisburg, (Ann Marie and her husband Australian born Hugh Francis have returned to set up the 'Mayo Vocal Academy', where they tutor singers of every age in both Castlebar and Westport), Pat Jennings, Mayo Man of the Year, Gerry Needham B.L., and Councillor Eugene McCormack, Mayo Co. Council.
Pictured at the launch of the Mayo International Choral Festival (MICF), during the Mayo Association World Convention, are: Left to Right, Gerry Flynn Managing Director Enjoy Travel, U.K., Padraic McKeon, Mayo Male Voice Choir, Ann Marie Gibbons, Soprano, MICF Committee member, Eamonn Horkan Chairman MICF, Pat Jennings, Mayo Man of the Year & MICF Committee member, Minister Michael Ring receiving festival T-Shirt, Deirdre Lee Music Director Mayo Male Voice Choir, Declan Marley, Mayo Association Galway, Declan Durcan, Festival Director, MICF. Photo by John Moylette, L.I.P.P.A., N.U.J.

Other sub committees will be set up to cater for the various aspects of the festival, Finance, Music Venues & Performances.

Failte Ireland came on board in a very positive way, both financially and with expertise. We are grateful to them especially Brian Quinn their Product Development & Marketing Manager and Grainne Kilcoyne for their great assistance in getting the Festival up and running. He stated that "the theme of the Festival is to allow choirs to meet with other choirs, to relax and enjoy a great weekend in the beautiful West of Ireland"

The Festival will welcome Competitive and Non Competitive adult Choirs from all parts of the World, both male and female, who will visit Mayo to perform and also if they wish to take part in competition and various workshops connected with choral performance.

The best Choral Festival Adjudicators in Ireland and the U.K. were contacted and acquired to adjudicate the festival. Various Choral Festivals were visited and festival directors were contacted to give advice on the professional organising of a festival. Joe Kelly, Festival Director of the Sligo International Choral Festival was most encouraging and offered to assist us in every way. "I travelled to the Cornwall Male Voice Choral Festival where Festival Director Peter Davis was most welcoming and offered to come to Mayo for our festival next year and adjudicate. I had also the opportunity to canvass the 64 participating choirs for our festival. Thus far we have received nothing but encouragement from all quarters. Our web site is up since last week and after only four days we had a query from a University Choir in the Philippines who had planned to come to Europe in May next year and would like to include Mayo as part of their visit. We also have strong interest from two German choirs. We have contacted many overseas choirs who have been visited by some of our choirs in Mayo and others who already have been in Mayo over the years and would like to come back. A key factor in encouraging choirs to travel to Mayo will be if hotels organise good value package deals for the travelling choirs", stated Eamonn Horkan, Festival Chairman. "The Mayo Festival is targeting over 2,500 U.K. choirs who have easy access to Mayo through Ireland West International Airport Knock, and our dates are based on the U.K. bank holiday weekend 24th to 27th May 2012. To date we have a number of U.K. Travel agents interested in organising groups to come to Mayo for the Festival".

Eamonn went on to say "To quote a famous recent visitor to our country, President Obama, 'Is Feidir Linn - 'Yes we can'"


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