Californian gold rush in Llangollen as choir wins world crown

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The Bob Cole Conservatory Chamber Choir

A choir from California struck gold at a major international music festival.

The Bob Cole Conservatory Chamber Choir clinched the prestigious Pavarotti Trophy in the Choir of the World competition at Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

Among those they pipped for top spot was the Welsh choir, Cȏr Glanaethwy, who were also finalists in Britain’s Got Talent.

The winners also saw off challenges of choirs from Estonia, the Czech Republic, The Philippines, England, Finland and fellow Californian choirs, the Sunday Night Singers and the Quire of Voyces.

According to the judges, the victorious choir, under the baton of the State University’s director of choral, vocal and opera studies, Jonathan Talberg, put in a superb performance.

In the view of Eilir Owen Griffiths, the Eisteddfod’s music director, says the Bob Cole Conservatory Chamber Choir were the “stand-out” performers in a tough competition for the global choral crown.

He said: “They sang from the heart and with passion while being technically superb. Their performance was very powerful and they were worthy winners.

“However, the standard was extremely high and the other choirs, particularly the open category winners, the Welsh choir, Cȏr Glanaethwy, were superb and really made us think with their innovative and powerful programme.”

He added: “As the festival’s music director I’m delighted at the standard of choral work we have seen from competitors throughout what has been a tough week of competition.

“The Bob Cole Conservatory Chamber Choir really were worthy winners of the Choir of the World title and I hope we see the choir return and grace the Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod again in the future.”

Jonathan Talberg couldn’t hide his delight after being presented with the impressive Choir of the World trophy by the festival’s president Terry Waite CBE.

He said: “I have dreamt of this moment all my life. I have spent my life working in choral music and to win the Choir of the World title is just superb. What a feeling!  For me it’s like winning Super Bowl, only perhaps even more thrilling.

“We have enjoyed a wonderful week. This festival is just amazing, the people, the setting, the flowers and the ethos of nations, particularly young people, coming together in a spirit of peace and togetherness is something incredible to witness.”

Choir members Pauline Tamale, 26, and Michaela Blanchard, 21, were both emotional but absolutely thrilled after winning the Choir of the World title.

Pauline, of the Kingdom of Tonga, said: “I am studying music performance at California State University and this is my first semester so I have only recently joined the choir.

“The experience we have had in Llangollen is just incredible. To see people coming together from literally all over the world to share music is something I will never forget. We have all made so many friends.

“To win this competition is just amazing. We work so hard and our director and conductor, Mr Talberg, is incredible. Thank you Wales and thank you Llangollen!”

Michaela Blanchard, of Long Beach, California added: “We have had such a wonderful experience. On the way to Llangollen the road passed through some trees and when we emerged and saw this beautiful town everyone was just open-mouthed. We all just thought wow!

“To have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and make new friends has just been so wonderful and to win the title Choir of the World is incredible.

“The whole setting, especially the stage and the incredible flowers, has been amazing. However, it’s the people that make the festival what it is.”