Renditions from the Messengers and J4 Inspiration filled the Umana Yana on Tuesday at the award of prizes to the winning choirs in the first ever National Choral Song Festival.

Meanwhile, plans were announced for a song festival in September, in which Amerindian groups would sing in their various languages.

The six winning groups in the January 13 festival, which was held at the National Cultural Centre were awarded their cash prizes and trophies along with copies of a book called “One Hundred Folk Songs of Guyana”.

New Amsterdam Secondary School, Saska Heraldiers and Brickdam Cathedral choirs were awarded $300,000, $200,000 and $100,000, respectively with trophies in the large groups’ category.

In the small groups’ category, Messengers, J4 Inspiration and Circle of Love took away $200,000, $125,000 and $75,000 along with trophies.

Messengers performed “Life in the Country”, while J4 sang “His Eye is on the Sparrow” during the ceremony.

Music Development Officer in the Ministry of Culture, Andrew Tyndall explained that because it was noted that Guyana’s rich choral tradition was disappearing, the ministry had moved to host the festival to promote the singing of national songs, national pride, and the beauty of Guyana through music.

He further stated his seniors had questioned him about the title of the competition, so he officially changed it to National Choral Song Festival.

He added that the festival had provided technical workshops for all the participants, thus giving them the capacity to excel at the final.

Similar workshops will be held this year to sustain and further develop choral music.

Minister of Culture Dr Frank Anthony expressed gratitude to the choirs which competed and persons who supported the competition. He further stated that the inaugural festival was successful because of the excellent performances by the competitors.

He added that the National School of Music had received good responses from prospective students. However, the Brickdam location does not have sufficient space to accept everyone. He said he hoped to accommodate everyone in the future.

He announced that the ministry is planning to have a song festival that will allow participants to sing songs in the Amerindian languages, making their dialect acknowledged. He said he hoped the very first such competition can be staged in September (Amerindian Heritage Month) of this year.

He also disclosed that in the 2014 staging of the National Choral Song Festival, the winning entries will be recorded and placed on special CDs to guarantee the event’s legacy is preserved.

Anthony stated that choirs would also be invited to perform at the Guyana Musical Arts Festival to be held from April 29 to May 5.

A press release had stated that all the groups participating in the National Choral Song Festival finals would receive certificates of participation.

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