St Paul's Co-educational College's Treble Choir takes grand prize at Busan Choral Festival and Competition 2018

Nicola Chan |

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The choir was awarded a total prize of US$20,000.

The Treble Choir of St Paul’s Co-educational College (SPCC) won the Grand Prize in the Grand Prix Final of the 14th Busan Choral Festival & Competition 2018 in South Korea on Saturday, October 20.

The 60-member choir, whose ages range between 13 and 16, swept the Gold Prize in both the Youth Choir (for singers 18 and under) and Classical Equal Voices (open to all ages) categories on Oct 17 and 19. They won against nine and 11 participating choirs from around the globe respectively.

The SPCC choir, the youngest ensemble of the Festival, went on to perform Pilgrim (客旅) in the finals, a piece by Hong Kong composer Gershom Tse. Their performance triumphed over their competition, which included three semi-professional choirs from Poland, Latvia and Indonesia.

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On top of the Grand Prize, the Treble Choir was awarded US$20,000 in prize money, and the Choir’s conductor, Anne Chu On-lai, a music teacher at SPCC, was awarded the Best Conductor Award as well.

The Treble Choir's chosen pieces, Tse’s Pilgrim and Warren Lee’s No Place in Our World, were commissioned by Chu who said that “it is the duty of the choir to present these [local] works on the international stage whenever [they] get a chance”. Indeed, Tse and Lee are both alumni of SPCC.

Choir members Iman Wan Tsz-kiu and Jolie Yung Cheuk-yin said they didn't expect to win in the international competition, given the strong competitors they encountered.

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"We just focused on giving our all on stage, and the encouraging results were certainly a bonus for us," Iman said. But the greatest reward of all, she added, was the fact that the choir's efforts paid off, and their voices had moved the audience. Jolie recalled feeling "surreal" when the winners were announced. "The recognition was so heartwarming, and I was, and still am, extremely proud of our choir," she said.

Jonathan Cheng Shing-chak, however, was quite confident in the team's capabilities, because of the promising rehearsals they had. "The competition was be the last time we [sang] with the same group of people," he said. "It was a remarkable finale to mark the end of [this choral combination]."

The Busan Choral Festival & Competition is an annual music festival presented by the Korea Choral Institute. This year, the festival played host to 50 choirs from around the world from October 17 to 20. The Treble Choir is now preparing for the annual Hong Kong Schools Music Festival, as well as SPCC’s Summer Concert in 2019.