A! Magazine for the Arts

ETSU Chorale competes in Wales

May 29, 2019

The East Tennessee State University Chorale is gearing up to join competitors from all over the world in the prestigious Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, which is held July 1-7 in Wales, United Kingdom.

This is one of the foremost world festivals of music, dance and culture, and includes competitions showcasing choirs and dance troupes from across the globe. Each year, it attracts over 4,000 performers and as many as 50,000 visitors throughout the week.

Established in 1947, the International Eisteddfod promotes peace and goodwill between nations by bringing performers from all cultures and nations together through music. The renowned festival has welcomed international music stars, including Luciano Pavarotti, who competed at Llangollen as a boy and returned to perform as one of the most successful tenors of all time.

“I’m always amazed at how people come together as one there,” said ETSU Chorale conductor Dr. Matthew Potterton, who has competed in the festival three times in previous years and recalls singing with choirs from Russia, Ethiopia, Latvia, the Philippines and other countries.

“There was a choir from Iran there in the ’90s, at a time when the tensions were probably as high as they are now with their government, and yet our two choirs came together and sang,” he said. “We talked as best we could, with language obviously being a barrier, but not music. We just had a great time communicating.”

Now director of choral and vocal activities and chair of the Department of Music at ETSU, Potterton is excited to share this experience with his own students this summer.

“Getting to interact with people from all over the world is just really incredible, and I’m looking forward to our students seeing this,” he said. “Many of them have not been on an airplane or outside this region, and for them to experience this will be very educational.”

Potterton says he feels good about the Chorale’s chances of placing in or winning at least one of the three categories in which it will compete, which are youth, mixed and adult folk song choirs.

The ETSU Chorale was selected from among 100 choirs that auditioned and has the opportunity to participate in the International Parade and give public performances at the festival in addition to the official competition, which takes place on July 5-6. The ensemble also performs in England in the days leading up to the festival.

The 27-member ETSU Chorale performs in a variety of styles and genres, ranging from music of the Renaissance to newly composed works. Its members are chosen through a selective audition process and must be dedicated to the highest levels of artistry.

The choir has toured both nationally and internationally and has performed in some of the most beautiful venues in the U.S., including the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. It has also appeared in numerous state and national conferences.

“It is a real honor to welcome our competitors to the beautiful town of Llangollen and give them the opportunity to perform on the festival’s famed Royal Pavilion stage,” said Music Director Edward-Rhys Harry. “They should be really proud of this achievement. It is a unique opportunity to enjoy and celebrate.”

For more information, contact the Department of Music at 423-439-4270 or cmusicevents@etsu.edu. For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at 423-439-8346.