The Bahamas National Youth Choir won the first-place trophy at the International Youth and Music Festival and Competition (Vienna) and two silver medals at the World Choir Games, in Graz, Austria, during their tour of Germany and Austria, July 12-22, 2008.
Executive Director of the National Musical Heritage and Research and Director of the Choir Cleophas Adderley said the choir competed against 11 other countries in the Vienna competition. The World Chorale Games, in Gratz, he added was an even larger event.
“This was absolutely massive,” he said of the Games. “There were 93 countries, 443 choirs – and some of those choirs were massive with over 100 people in the choir – and over 20,000 singers.”
The Bahamas competed in two categories and medaled in both of them. The categories were also open categories, resulting in the Youth Choir performing against older, more experienced singers.
The Bahamas received a silver medal in the open folk music category, competing against 46 other countries. They performed four pieces, including a medley of “Miss Lucy” and “Uncle Lou” and the more obscure “O Let ‘Em Go Down to Bimini.”
The Bahamas then received a silver medal for mixed chamber choirs (classical music) and the competition was strong among the 43 countries in that class, Mr. Adderley said.
“Some of the choirs I heard and against whom we competed sounded like recordings that you buy in a store,” he said. “The standard was so amazingly high that it was almost intimidating.”
“I was absolutely delighted when we did so well, especially in the classical music category because it was so very, very, very competitive,” he added.
Mr. Adderley said that he had an idea as to what the judges saw in the Bahamas National Youth Choir that made the group special.
“The judges would immediately realise that the choir is a disciplined choir,” Mr. Adderley said. “That became apparent from the minute we stepped onto the stage. We were immaculately attired for the classical portion and very colorufully attired in costumes for the folk section.
“In addition, it is my opinion that the judges would have heard lovely tone quality and could tell that these were young people who received very good musical training and knew the basics of chorale production and pedagogy (preparatory training and instruction).”
Mr. Adderley said that if Bahamians want to continue to shine on the world stage, they must realise the importance of hard work, discipline and setting goals and having high standards.
“It is only in this way that we can compete globally,” he said. “We have been competing globally in so many areas – including sports, business and tourism – and there is no reason why we should not compete globally in the area of the Arts.”
Mr. Adderley said that he interacted with other choir directors, especially from Europe, who told him that The Bahamas did well for such a small country with limited resources and it should be extremely proud.
“And, indeed, I am and I trust that the whole Bahamas will be once they find out about the accomplishments of these dedicated and hardworking Bahamian cultural ambassadors,” he said.