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Bob Cole Conservatory Chamber Choir Named Choir of the World in Wales

The Bob Cole Conservatory Chamber Choir, under the direction of Dr. Jonathan Talberg, has won the 2016 Choir of the World and Pavarotti Trophy at the 70th Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in Wales. The six-day event drew entries from as far away as Trinidad and Tobago, Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe, and the Philippines.

The Bob Cole Conservatory of Music's peformance at the 70th Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in Wales, 2016. (Credit: Courtesy of / copyright Rondo Media)

The first International Musical Eisteddfod was held in Llangollen in 1947. It began as a way of healing worldwide wounds following the end of the Second World War. Each year around 4,000 performers and as many as 50,000 visitors converge on this beautiful small Welsh town and its International Pavilion; to sing and dance in a unique combination of competition, performance, and international peace and friendship. Its competitions climax with the prestigious ’Choir of the World,’ which determines the best overall choir of the event. In 2005 Luciano Pavarotti added his name to the competition in recognition of his appreciation of the festival and its influence on his career.

The following article was published July 12, 2016 on the Llangollen 2016 website. All text copyright the author(s).

Californians Strike Gold at Festival

A California university choir struck gold after being crowned Choir of the World at a major international music festival.

The Bob Cole Conservatory Chamber Choir won the singing shoot-out for the coveted Pavarotti Trophy—named for the great Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti—at the Llangollen International Music Festival.

The Bob Cole Chamber Choir singing at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
The Bob Cole Chamber Choir singing at the Llangollen International Music Festival.

To do it they first had to win against tough competition to qualify, seeing off the challenge of choirs from Estonia, the Czech Republic, The Philippines, England, Finland and fellow Californians, the Sunday Night Singers and the Quire of Voyces.

And just a few hours later, under the baton of the State University’s director of choral, vocal and opera studies, Jonathan Talberg, the choir put in a superb performance against choirs from Wales, England and the Philippines to lift the coveted and highly prestigious Choir of the World title at the 70th.

It completed a successful week for the choir who added the Choir of the World title to earlier successes in the Adult Folk Song and the Mixed Choir classes and a second place in the Youth Choir section.

Eilir Owen Griffiths, the Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod’s music director, says the Bob Cole Conservatory Chamber Choir were the competition’s ’stand-out’ competitors.

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

The Bob Cole Chamber Choir poses after being named Choir of the World 2016.
The Bob Cole Chamber Choir poses after being named Choir of the World 2016.

"However, the standard was particularly high and the other choirs, particularly the open category winners, the Welsh choir, Cor 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.

Members of the Bob Cole Chamber Choir.
Members of the Bob Cole Chamber Choir.

"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, Dr. 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."

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