The Isle of Man Festival of Choirs reached its climax on Sunday when the four class winners sang against each other in a fantastic final in front of a large audience at the Villa Marina’s Royal Hall.
First to qualify for the final was Abbeydale Singers, from Sheffield, who scored an average of over 90 marks each for their four pieces in the mixed class. Runners up was Valley Aloud from Lancashire with island choir Glenfaba Chorale taking third spot.
In the male voice class, Lon Dhoo Male Voice Choir sang out of their skins to take first place, ahead of Chappel-en-le-Frith and Churchdown Male Voice Choirs.
A very competitive ladies’ voice class saw Llangollen Choir of the World finalist, Le Voci Women’s Choir from Hereford, pip The Chanterelles by one mark to make it to the final, with Chanteuse taking third spot.
Abbeydale Singers won their second class of the day by topping the very strong open class ahead of Le Voci and EAGA Gospel Choir. It gave the organisers a headache as choirs may only sing once in the final.
It resulted in the Leicester-based EAGA Gospel Choir being awarded a place in the final, a very popular decision with the large audience.
One of the highlights of this class was the Manchester-based Glasshouse Bootleg Community choir who, as they do not use any sheet music, was unable to be adjudicated. In the spirit of the friendly festival they were invited to sing as a guest choir.
Sunday’s programme started with the Douglas Council Ensemble competition. Douglas Mayor Natalie Byron-Teare presented the award to Stafford’s Enchante’e, with island choir Manx Voices second.
This delightful class featured an appearance by EAGA7, the gospel choir’s youth group in their first-ever competitive appearance.
The final itself with Abbeydale Singers, Lon Dhoo, Le Voci and EAGA was of the highest quality and all the competitors were praised by adjudicator Trystan Lewis.
He told the audience that if the Isle of Man Festival of Choirs was anything to go by then choral singing across the British Isles was in safe hands.
After the four choirs had completed a 25-minute concert programme, Trystan awarded the Choir of the Festival Trophy to the Abbeydale Singers, who were presented their third trophy of the weekend by Lieutenant Governor Sir John Lorimer.
Festival co-ordinator Gary Corkhill said: ‘If there had been an audience award, it would surely have gone to the musical director of the EAGA Gospel Choir who in their third piece, African Medley brought the house down with his solo singing and energetic dancing - and conducting - which most deservedly resulted in a standing ovation.’
Gary added: ‘We look forward to October 2025 when we can welcome another 500-plus choristers to our island.
‘Douglas was full of song over the weekend and to quote one of the choirs: “Everyone is buzzing and you have definitely sold the island to many of our choir and supporters.”’