The final of the 2017 London International A Cappella Choral Competition reached a high point at St John's Smith Square on Saturday 1 July with choirs from Denmark, Hungary, Norway, Poland and the United Kingdom competing for the coveted first prize.
After a series of intense evening heats, 14 accomplished ensembles from around the world had been whittled down to just 5, who then presented diverse programmes combining renaissance masterworks with a rich selection of music from their respective traditions and pieces by Arvo Pärt, the week’s featured composer.
A distinguished panel - comprising Peter Phillips, Graham Ross, Ghislaine Morgan, Tõnu Kaljuste, and Carolyn Sampson – named Denmark’s Copenhagen Chamber Choir Camerata as the winner with a performance which was described as ‘completely masterful, technically measured and yet expressive to the core’. The Runner-up prize went to the Ole Bull Kammerkor from Bergen in Norway. The prizes were presented by HE Mr Lauri Bambus, Estonian Ambassador to the UK, alongside Peter Phillips of The Tallis Scholars and the featured composer Arvo Pärt.
The evening was the culmination of a week of music making in which choirs - in addition to the competition heats at St John’s - performed lunchtime and evening concerts at a number of historic churches across London and participated in masterclasses with Peter Phillips and vocal coach Ghislaine Morgan.
Chairman of the Jury and Conductor of The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips, said: “To see choirs from across the world singing a cappella music of all kinds - meeting and learning from each other - was a dream come true for me. To have Arvo Pärt there to give away the prizes was the icing on the cake. It has been a thrilling week, all made possible by St John's Smith Square.”
Director of St John’s Smith Square, Richard Heason, said: “What a fabulous week of music making, with choirs from across the globe coming together to share a common joy in singing. There has been a true wealth of colour and expression and having Arvo Pärt join us at St John’s Smith Square was an unforgettable privilege which cemented an unparalleled week of musical achievement. What better way could there have been to mark the first day of Estonia’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union than to welcome the country’s pre-eminent composer and listen to his music in an international celebration that was completely without borders.”