Portsmouth Cathedral’s youth choir wins coveted prize at international festival

AWARD WINNERS Cantate won a prize in an international choir festival
AWARD WINNERS Cantate won a prize in an international choir festival
  • Teenage choir Cantate awarded best Renaissance motet at choir festival in Florence
  • Choir competed with 15 others at the Florence International Choir Festival
  • Cantate also sang in Pisa and Bologna
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A Portsmouth choir beat off competition from around the world to win a special prize at an international choir festival.

The Portsmouth Cathedral youth choir, Cantate, won a prize for the best Renaissance motet on their debut at the Florence International Choir Festival.

Cantate was one of 15 choirs from around the world who took part in the choir festival in the Renaissance capital.

They entered two classes for the competition, one in modern music and one in sacred music.

In the first, they performed a set work by one of the judges, Gaetano Lorandi, alongside pieces by Grayston Ives, and Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo. In the second, they performed John Rutter’s ‘There is a flower’, ‘Coelos ascendit hodie’ by Charles Villers Stanford, and ‘O magnum mysterium’ by the 16th-century Spanish composer Tomas Luis de Victoria.

The judges were so impressed by this performance that they awarded Cantate a special prize for the best Renaissance motet – a number of highly varied choral musical compositions.

There was a huge range of musical styles within the festival, and each choir took part in concerts in front of the other choirs.

The event proved an excellent opportunity for camaraderie amongst international groups of choristers.

Cantate also visited and performed in Pisa and Bologna during their Italian tour.

The cathedral’s director of music, Oliver Hancock, said: ‘This is the first time Cantate has taken part in a festival like this.

‘It was a very rewarding experience with some fantastic singing, and it is particularly good to have come away as an award-winning choir.’

The Cantate choir is open to boys and girls aged 11-18 from schools across the city and Portsmouth diocese.

They sing choral evensong every Thursday at 6pm and also sing at other major cathedral services such as ordinations and special events.

For more information, email music@portsmouthcathedral.org.uk or call (023) 9282 3300.