Male Voice Choir top of the bill at Cork

The victorious Portadown Male Voice Choir.

The victorious Portadown Male Voice Choir.

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Portadown Male Voice Choir has continued its close connections with Cork International Music Festival - by winning the male section on Saturday morning, and being ‘top of the bill’ at the prestigious gala concert that night.

It marks more than 40 years of association with the Ireland’s most southern concert, and is especially gratifying for conductor Gordon Speers, who has been more than half-a-century with the choir, firstly as a member and then musical director.

On Saturday morning, they took the award against top choirs from Cork and Waterford, and won by five clear points – they received 86.5 marks with ‘A Smuggler’s Song’ (Rudyard Kipling, arranged by Arnold Williams) and ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ (arranged by Denys Hood).

On Saturday afternoon, the Portadown ensemble sang at the public ‘fun’ concert which is traditionally held at the four-star Clarion Hotel, a star role among choirs from all over the UK and Europe – they had two ‘spots’ there.

Then, on Saturday night, they closed the acclaimed Fleischmann Gala Concert at Cork City Hall from their extensive repertoire, receiving a tumultuous standing ovation.

“It was a golden moment,” said Gordon Speers. “We have been to Cork most years since the mid-1970s, including the years of the Troubles, and the people of Cork seemed to take us to their hearts. We have won many times, and this was one of the best occasions.”

They rounded off the weekend of song on Sunday when they were welcome guests at Trinity Presbyterian Church.