The University Singers Perform at International Choir Festival The University Singers have been selected as a finalist for an International Competition in Ireland.
The award-winning University Singers, under the direction of Shane M. Lynch, have been selected as a finalist for the International Competition at the City of Derry International Choir Festival in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Oct. 19–23. At the competition, the group will compete against choirs from nine other nations for the coveted “Oak Tree of Derry” trophy. The University Singers are the first American choir ever to be selected for this competition.
“This is a tremendous honor for the students and the university,” said Lynch. “It is sort of crazy that this tiny little school in the middle of rural Virginia with a choir made up of mainly 18- to 22-year-olds, 70% of whom are non-music majors, was selected to be featured on a true international stage like this. Typically, American choirs featured in events like this are from huge graduate schools of music or are semi-professional ensembles in large metropolitan areas. It is a testament to the hard work and true care of generations of students who have come through the University Singers that allows for something like this to happen.”
In addition to various events exploring the cultures and music of the competing international choirs, the University Singers will present their competition set on Saturday, Oct. 22 in the Guildhall, the primary concert space in Derry. The performance focuses on technically challenging music of different styles and eras, with each choir required to highlight particular skill sets within their music choices.
On Sunday, Oct. 23, all groups will present at the festival-closing Gala Concert, with music chosen to highlight each choir’s home country. The University Singers will feature the music of Lynch and Rosephayne Powell, the director of vocal studies at Auburn University, for the Gala Concert. Powell has worked with the group this semester on the W&L campus to ensure this portion of the Gala Concert truly shines, as it represents both W&L and American choral music to an international audience.
“Being selected for any accolade at this level is truly humbling,” said Lynch. “It is also the end result of many years of sustained excellence, as you must submit years of recordings from multiple ensembles in the process. Because of that fact, this is an honor earned by members of past choirs for this year’s choir.
“This is especially true of the choirs during the past two years of the pandemic. The pandemic has decimated performing arts programs across the globe,” he continued. “The fact that the members of the University Singers continued to excel at an internationally competitive level through the most difficult of circumstances the past two years is a testament to the best aspects of W&L. This year’s choir’s work towards preparing to do their best has been nothing short of inspirational. They have put their best foot forward and have improved throughout the fall at an exponential rate. It will be my great honor to stand in front of them in Derry.”
Read more about the competition online at derrychoirfest.com.