All the choirs who will compete in the Côr Cymru 2011 final on Sunday 10 April have been named. They are Côr Hŷn Glanaethwy, a children’s choir and a male voice choir from Ysgol Gerdd Ceredigion, mixed choir Cywair and Llanelli’s Cantata choir.
Heledd Cynwal and Morgan Jones will present all the excitement of the final at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre live on S4C at 19:30 on Sunday, April 10. The winner will be announced live later in the evening.
With just days until the grand final, how do the choir conductors feel as the big day approaches? Catrin Hughes, leader of the female voice choir Cantata says.
“At the end of the day, the most important thing to me is that the choir enjoy their performance and give their all on the stage. Côr Cymru certainly gives choral singing in Wales a special platform, and the experience will stand in the memory for years."
Cefin Roberts is the conductor of Côr Hŷn Glanaethwy and he also wants his choir to enjoy the experience. “I’m encouraging the choir to forget about the competition and enjoy as if we were performing a concert. Glanaethwy is after all a Performing Arts School and we will do what we do best – entertain!”
Islwyn Evans is the conductor of both Ysgol Gerdd Ceredigion choirs and the mixed voice choir Cywair. Islwyn has experienced great success in the competition in the past, but with several choirs under his care competing for the award, are there any tensions between the members behind-the-scenes?
"There is healthy competition behind-the-scenes. They like to tease each other but at the end of the day they're glad if any of the choirs win," says Islwyn Evans. "The ethos I try to teach them is that the most important thing is to try our best and enjoy ourselves."
For the five finalists, this is the culmination of weeks and months of rehearsals and hard work. But, having seen some outstanding performances in the semi-finals, some may argue the judges face the toughest task of all!
"Choosing the finalists in each category has been a very difficult task," says judge Stephen Connolly, former member of the group The King’s Singers. "I could have listened to each choir for two hours, instead of the fifteen minutes they were given," adds Stephen.
The two other judges on the panel this year are Denes Szabo, conductor of Hungary’s three most successful choirs, and renowned Italian conductor Carlo Rizzi. With such high standards in the semi-finals, the expectations are high for the final. Stephen Connolly knows exactly what qualities he hopes to see in the winning choir.
"They have a lot of boxes to tick. They must have balance and show emotion and believe in what they’re doing. They need to have a great line and show energy in their singing. They must breathe together and present a package full of vigour whether they are singing softly or loudly."
But, the judges won’t be the only ones to voice their opinions on the night. This year viewers will be able to choose their favourite choir by a phone vote on the night, with the winner taking home the viewers' trophy. Heledd Cynwal will announce details of the phone numbers live on the programme and the lines will open following the last performance.
A special programme on Friday 8 April at 20:25 will give us an opportunity to re-live all five choirs’ performances in the semi-finals, as we look forward to the final on Sunday night. The live programme will begin at 19:30 on Sunday 10 April, and the results will be announced later in the evening.