Editor?s note: Reposts to correct group?s name
MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine Madrigal Singers won the prestigious European Grand Prix for Choral Singing Sunday night (Monday morning, Manila time) in Arezzo, Italy.
The Madz, as the choir is popularly known, is the first and only choir to win twice in what is known as the choral Olympics of the world.
It won the European Choral Grand Prix (GPE) for the first time in June 1997 when the Madrigals represented the Tolosa Competition, the first and only Philippine choir to win this competition.
When it won the Florilege Vocal de Tours in France in 2006, the Philippine choral group earned the right to represent the Tours in this year?s choral Olympics, held on Sunday at the Church of Sta. Maria della Pieve in Arezzo, Italy.
The Madrigals beat formidable choirs such as Russia?s Vesna Children?s Choir, Hungary?s Cantemus Mixed Choir, Cuba?s Schola Cantorum Coralina and the Taipei Chamber Singers.
?Its overwhelming. Up to now we are very happy and pleased. No words can describe it,? Mark Anthony Carpio, the Madrigal?s choirmaster told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone from Italy.
Carpio said the choral group performed a 20-minute program for the competition which included: John Pamintuan?s arrangement of ?Pater Noster,? a French madrigal, a German art song, the American contemporary song ?We Beheld Once Again the Stars? by Z. Randall Stroope and a children?s song from Maguindanao titled ?Kaisa-isa Nyan? by Nilo Alcala.
The 44-strong Philippine choir is scheduled to arrive in Manila on Tuesday at 10 a.m.
Carpio said the Madrigals were set to perform a homecoming concert in October before leaving for the US.
The Philippine Madrigal Singers was founded in 1963 by National Artist for Music Andrea O. Veneracion, who led the choir in winning various choral competitions from all over the world. Veneracion passed on her choirmaster?s task to Madz member Carpio, who led the choir in winning the latest choral Olympics.
?I never had the ambition of becoming the choirmaster of a group I have admired for a long time,? said Carpio who took over in 2001. ?But I trusted Prof. Veneracion?s decision. She had been praying intensely for this when the Madz won the 1997 GPE."
Carpio was overwhelmed when the Madz made history by winning its second GPE, this time, under his leadership.
?Nothing is more enjoyable than to see our hard work pay off. Feeling good about ourselves inspires us to even work harder. As Prof. Veneracion always said in the past, competitions are not the end; they are just means for us to see how well we are on track," Carpio said.
"We worked hard to achieve what we believed is the composer?s desire for each of our pieces. We did a lot of studying and research. But most of all, we did a lot of rehearsals," he added.
According to Carpio, there is no such thing as an ideal sound in any choral competition. The sound that the choir always tries to maintain is a free and relaxed sound but at the same time versatile and flexible.
?I believe there is no ideal or perfect sound for a choir. I have made this conclusion after listening to so many choirs from different countries of different cultures and ages. Each one sounds good but different from each other," he said.
"There are qualities that are common to choirs. They are homogenous and the different voice parts are well-balanced. This is what conductors find very challenging: How to make the different individual voices blend together. This is difficult but attainable," Carpio added.
The GPE is an annual choral competition for the winners of six European choral competitions. It was inaugurated in 1989.
The six competitions are the Concorso Polifónico Guido d'Arezzo (International Guido d'Arezzo Polyphonic Contest) in Arezzo, Italy; the Bela Bartok International Choir Competition in Debrecen, Hajdú-Bihar, Hungary; Concorso Cesare Augusto (C.A.) Seghizzi, (C.A. Seghizzi Competition) known more popularly as the Seghizzi contest in Gorizia, Italy; Concurso Coral de Tolosa (Tolosa Choral Competition) in Tolosa, Spain; the International May Choir Competition in Varna, Varna Province, Bulgaria; and the Florilège Vocal de Tour in Tours, France.
By winning the Tours competition in June 2006, the Madrigals qualified to join the GPE.
Despite its name, the GPE is not strictly for European choir groups. Any group from around the world can join in the competition in any of the GPE?s six member-cities. The competition is also not limited to adult choirs. Two past winners are children?s choirs.
Sweden has produced the most number of GPE winners with four choral groups. Lithuania has three winners, Hungary and the US have two each. Denmark, Japan, Latvia, the Philippines, Russia and Slovenia have one each.
The last winner of the 2006 GPE held in Tolosa, Spain is the University of Utah Singers from Salt Lake City, US.