The Wellensian Consort is Crowned Choir of the Year 2010
Ex-pupils who meet to share the joy of singing scoop the UK’s highest amateur choral prize
Performance to be broadcast by BBC FOUR on 4 December
28 November 2010: The Wellensian Consort has been crowned Choir of the Year 2010 – winning the title at the competition’s Grand Final held at the Royal Festival Hall on 28 November 2010.
The Wellensian Consort beat 156 other choirs of all styles and ages, made up of over 6,000 singers taking part in the competition. Choir of the Year, the UK's largest amateur singing competition, is held in association with BBC Radio 3, and is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
The Finals, hosted by Aled Jones and Josie d'Arby, saw six finalist choirs battle for the title Choir of the Year 2010. The six choirs were winners of the Children, Youth, Adult and Open categories of the competition, plus two wildcard winners chosen from the category finalists.
The Choir of the Year final will be broadcast on BBC FOUR at 20.00 on Saturday 4 December.
The Royal Festival Hall erupted with shouts and cheers as Mary King, Chair of the Judges, announced the Wellensian Consort as the winners, the choir’s singers and supporters jumped for joy and hugged each other as an audience of 3,000 people clapped and cheered.
The Wellensian Consort (23 singers, including the conductor) is made up of former pupils of Wells Cathedral School who travel from all over the UK and overseas to meet and sing. The choir was formed by conductor Christopher Finch to celebrate the School's 1,100th year anniversary in 2009.
Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, presented the Choir of the Year winner’s trophy to 20 year-old Jeremy Loyd, a member of the Wellensian Consort.
The Choir of the Year Final was judged by a distinguished panel of musical experts including, ‘rock star’ composer Eric Whitacre; Only Men Aloud’s Tim Rhys Evans; top soprano Elin Manahan Thomas; former Choir of the Year winner Ken Burton and chair of judges Mary King. [Judges’ biographies at: www.choiroftheyear.com]
Sing Up! Moving on Up
The foyer of the Royal Festival was filled with song while guests arrived for the Final as children from three Sudbury primary schools sang in public for the first time ever in front of their proud families. The young choirs have been mentored by talented teenage singers from the Voice Squad, a previous Choir of the Year finalist, who helped them devise their own unique musical theatre piece. The young singers were also treated to a performance by the Voice Squad, conducted by Birgitta Kenyon who led the project. Moving on Up is supported by Sing Up, the National Singing Programme.
Mary King, Chair of Judges said: “The standard of all the choirs performing here today was exceptionally high. It is a testament to the expertise of their conductors and choir leaders who form and tutor these wonderful singing groups and without whom these choirs would not reach such a high standard.
“The Wellensian Consort is a hugely accomplished choir, demonstrating technical mastery, smooth musicianship and wonderful phrasing, producing a warm fantastic sound throughout the range, and are the deserving winners of Choir of the Year 2010.”
Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries said: “This is my first Choir of the Year final and what a pleasure it’s been – remarkable, uplifting performances across all ages. It’s fantastic this competition exists to get people singing and provide choirs with a benchmark of excellence and the opportunity to come together and perform. Well done to the Wellensian Consort.”
Roger Wright, Controller, BBC Radio 3 said: “We support Choir of the Year not only for the wonderful performances, but also because it provides the opportunity for singing groups of all styles, from communities across the UK, to come together. It sets the highest standard, helps choirs develop and provides unique opportunities to perform. Congratulations to all finalists, but particular praise to the Wellensian Consort – Choir of the Year 2010!”
Moira Sinclair, London Executive Director of Arts Council England said: “Choir of the Year shows how a love of singing can bring people of all ages together, and that collectively they can work towards something that is truly extraordinary. This year, Arts Council England is delighted to have supported Choir of the Year in expanding its reach, enabling many more groups to take part and experience the joy of performance. Well done to all this year’s participants and congratulations to this year’s winners on a remarkable achievement.”
Competition website: www.choiroftheyear.com
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Popularity of Group Singing
Singing is the UK’s most popular participatory group activity after sport. There are over 25,000 choirs, with 500,000 singers across the country reaching an audience of 3m, according to figures supplied by TONSIL (www.tonsil.org.uk). Regular group singing has proven health benefits, from improved breathing capacity and better posture to increased self-confidence and the feel good factor that comes from singing your heart out with a group of friends.
About Choir of the Year - www.choiroftheyear.com,
Choir of the Year is the UK’s biggest choral competition and involves thousands of people every two years in a search for the best amateur choir. Open to groups of any age or style of music, it is a showcase for the UK’s most talented choirs and a rare chance for hundreds of choirs to see each other perform live and exchange ideas. More than 6,000 singers from communities all over the country take part in regional auditions, ensuring the competition reflects the rich diversity of music-making in the UK. Choirs receive live feedback from the expert judges as soon as they have performed.
- Children’s Choirs - Majority of singers age 12 and under.
- Youth Choirs - Majority of singers age 18 and under.
- Adult Choirs – Same or mixed voices.
- Open Choirs - There are no upper or lower age limits in this category. It's ideal for singing groups which include children and adults, specialise in a particular cultural tradition or style of repertoire or simply want to do something a little bit different.
About BBC Radio 3
BBC Radio 3 broadcasts classical music, jazz, world music, arts programmes and drama. Last year BBC Radio 3 broadcast over 600 complete concerts and operas from venues and festivals across the UK and beyond. BBC Radio 3 is the home of The BBC Proms and broadcasts every concert live. It supports composers, writers and new young performers and last year broadcast over 40 new drama productions. See www.bbc.co.uk/radio3
About Sing Up
Sing Up (www.singup.org) is the National Singing Programme which aims to put singing at the heart of primary school-aged children’s lives. The programme includes an online resource and magazine to help primary school teachers and parents encourage children to sing everyday.
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