Taoiseach launches Mayo International Choral Festival Website

Mayo International Choral Festival website launched by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD.
During an evening that was informative, relaxed and with good banter, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD attended the launch of the website of the new Mayo International Choral Festival – and also the launch of the Lions of Ireland official magazine ‘Pride of The Lions’. Edward (Eamonn) Horkan, Chairman of the Mayo International Choral Festival, formally welcomed Taoiseach Kenny and distinguished guests, including the representatives of various Mayo Choral groups.

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An Taoiseach Enda Kenny launches mayochoral.com, website of the Mayo International Choral Festival (MICF). Pictured are L-R: Roddy Moran, Chairman Mayo Male Voice Choir, Deirdre Lee, MICF member and Mayo Male Voice Choir Musical Director and An Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

He thanked Mary and Pat Jennings of the T.F Royal Hotel, Castlebar, for hosting the launch and providing the very welcome reception.
He also thanked Cllr Ger Deere for his help in the preparation of the launch.

He stressed the very special and unique occasion – the launching of the first regular Lions of Ireland official magazine ‘Pride Of The Lions’ and also launching the website of the Mayo International Choral Festival, www.mayochoral.com

Mr Horkan stated that the Lions Clubs of Mayo are very involved in helping the Mayo International Choral Festival get started.

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An Taoiseach Enda Kenny launches mayochoral.com, website of the Mayo International Choral Festival (MICF). Pictured are, L-R: Edward (Eamonn) Horkan, Chairman MICF, Teresa Downs, Michelle Mulherin TD, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Donal Downs, Chairman Worldwide Mayo Associations, Declan Durcan, Festival Director MICF and Cllr Gerard Deere.

Mr Horkan stated that the Lions Clubs of Mayo are very involved in helping the Mayo International Choral Festival get started.

Four Members of the Executive of the Festival Committee are Lions. Each Club in Mayo, together with the various Mayo choral groups, will organize Concerts with local and visiting Choirs in their area during the Festival.

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An Taoiseach Enda Kenny launches mayochoral.com, website of the Mayo International Choral Festival (MICF). Pictured are, L-R: Gerry Needham B.L. and MICF member, Pat Jennings, Mayo Man of the Year and MICF member, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Eugene McCormack, Castlebar Town Mayor and MICF member, Declan Durcan, Festival Director MICF, Gary Belton, Modata, Cllr Michael Kilcoyne, Deirdre Lee, MICF member and Mayo Male Voice Choir Musical Director and Edward (Eamonn) Horkan, Chairman MICF.

Origins of Festival

Mr Horkan explained how the idea of a Choral Festival for Mayo came about.

“The idea originated from a conversation I had with Pat Jennings after the successful Mayo Memorial Peace Park Concert, prior to the official opening of the Park in October 2008, in which I was involved with Michael Feeney, the founder of the Peace Park.

“They had seven choirs on stage at the Royal Theatre, and I felt that the Theatre was ideal to accommodate a gala concert during an International Choral event. Next year we hope to have over 20 Choirs singing together at the finale of the Gala Concert during the Festival in May”.

He went on to say: “We then set up a small Executive Committee who were experts in their own particular fields.

“The Festival committee is Chairman: Edward (Eamonn) Horkan, Festival Director: Declan Durcan, Treasurer: Enda McDonagh, Executive Committee; Anne Marie Gibbons, Mayo Vocal Academy, Deirdre Lee, Choral Director, MMVC, Dr. Brian Lennon, Choral Director Cór Mhaigh Eo, Pat Jennings, Mayo Man of the Year, Councillor Eugene McCormack, Mayor of Castlebar and Gerry Needham BL, Legal Advisor.”

Economic benefits

Mr Horkan stated that he had attended many International Choral Festivals and saw how successful a well organised Choral Festival can be in helping an area.

“In the choral festival in Cornwall they had 64 Male Voice choirs, some competing but most there to enjoy themselves – they were staying in the different towns and villages throughout Cornwall and this is also the model the committee are striving for.

“To give you an idea of the potential of a Choral Festival in Mayo, the Cork International Choral Festival is now in its 57th year and it brings over 20,000 bed nights into Cork over the 4 days, average 5,000 each night.

Sligo Choral Festival is now in its 23rd successful year, likewise it has had a great impact on the entire county – it runs from 10th to 13th of November”. He recommended for anyone interested in choral music to take the opportunity and attend Sligo “they have some great competitions and open-air performances. Sligo’s Festival Director Joe Kelly has been very encouraging and helpful to Mayo in starting our Festival”.

Mr Horkan went onto say that they also had great support from the start from Grainne Kilcoyne and Brian Quinn ofFáilte Ireland and also from the majority of accommodation providers across Mayo. The Lions Clubs and Choirs in

Mayo have been enthusiastic in helping us with various aspects of running local events across Mayo, where visitingchoirs are staying.

He talked about the choir registration fee of eight euro per each choir member and the entry fee. He said thatthis will cover each member getting a security lanyard, allowing entry to all Festival workshops, to the GalaConcert which costs others e20, a complementary high quality festival souvenir programme etc.

“We look on this as a contribution towards the initial costs of the Festival, which we as a committee have to carry. We possibly will not need this in future years,” he commented.

He went onto say that “due to a request we have included a Gaelic and Celtic language Competition, as we found a great demand from Scottish, Welsh, and some of our own Irish Choirs and also a Barbershop Competition, to suit providers who have limited accommodation, to suit Chorus and Quartets with small numbers.

“We have got some of the top adjudicators in the UK and in Ireland and recently secured the services of one of the best Choral Directors in Germany. The cost of adjudicators, one from Germany, two from the UK and four from different parts of Ireland, for accommodation and travel and their fee is substantial, this is a must, as without the best adjudicators, choirs are reluctant to come”.

Patrons needed

Mr Horkan mentioned the fact that organizing a Festival on this scale all costs money and would like members of the public to consider coming on board as Patrons of the Festival or sponsoring one of the competitions.

Details available from our Festival Director Declan Durcan or any member of their Executive. “We have been working on the festival for the past 18 months.

Mr Durcan, came on board to assist with the finer details – he had been organizing various festivals for many years notably the Castlebar Blues Festival, he is also is a Graphic Designer and has his own business ‘Visual Impact’, his handiwork can been seen in the design of our logo and our Syllabus and the design and visuals for the website”.

He went on to say that particular mention goes to Gary Belton, of Modata, who has done a fantastic job in building and coding the website.

“The website is very striking and is user friendly. We’ve done a lot of work on the keywords and search engines and we are now fourth in the list when you Google ‘choral festivals in Ireland’.

“Within four days of the website going live we had an enquiry from a choir in the Philippines. We’ve also had enquiries from choirs from Germany, Croatia and the US, and many enquiries from the UK and Ireland. The website features a lot of Mayo scenery, which we believe is one of the strongest selling points for overseas choirs. We will continue to work on the website including a facility to read it in different languages”.

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D. officially launching the Festival Website, congratulated Mr. Horkan and his committee on this progressive and ambitious project and stated that it was most encouraging to see people like them come up with an idea which would bring much needed business to the County in general and also provide quality entertainment for the larger community throughout Mayo.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny launches mayochoral.com, website of the Mayo International Choral Festival (MICF). Pictured are L-R: Roddy Moran, Chairman Mayo Male Voice Choir, Deirdre Lee, MICF member and Mayo Male Voice Choir Musical Director and An Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
The Taoiseach stated that the evening brought the two communities of the Lions and Choral festival together, and, that in Ireland today, community was a key word. An Taoiseach also stated “People always remember a particular positive ‘experience’ from a holiday and in this case it will be the experience of song and visiting Mayo”.

He wished the Festival every success and asked the general public to support it in any way they can.
Follow the festival progress on www.maychoral.com or on Facebook.

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