Ateneo singers top Irish fest

Maan Fernandez Nitura
An Ateneo glee club member even recalls the crowd stomping their feet for his group, 'a very high form of appreciation' in Ireland

ATENEO SINGERS. Competition performance inside the Cork City Hall for the Fleischmann International Trophy Competition. Photo from the Ateneo College Glee Club

MANILA, Philippines – Fresh from the prestigious European Grand Prix for Choral Singing, the Ateneo de Manila College Glee Club (ACGC) won the renowned Fleischmann International Trophy at the 58th Cork International Choral Festival earlier this month.

The festival is a highly anticipated musical affair held annually in Cork, Ireland where choirs and other choral music enthusiasts come in from all over Europe, America, Africa, and Asia.

They take part in a wide array of festival activities, which include concerts, public performances, choral clinics, music lectures, parties, and even free sing-alongs open to everyone.

The dynamic weeklong event is one of Europe’s foremost music festivals, attended by almost 5,000 participants every year. The ACGC received the Fleischmann International Trophy last May 5.

Best choirs

At the festival, organizers select the best amateur choirs to compete in its biggest event — the Fleischmann International Trophy competition. This year’s chosen competitors include the following: 

  • Ateneo de Manila College Glee Club (Philippines)

  • Cantemus Chamber Choir (Ireland)

  • Codetta (Ireland)

  • Cois Cladaigh (Ireland)

  • Cor CF1 (Wales)

  • Ensemble vocal (Germany)

  • Hwa Chong Choir (Singapore)

  • Primorska Academic Choir Vinko Vodopivec (Slovenia)

  • Vocal Ensemble of Risbergska High School (Sweden)

  • The Chanterelles (England)

  • The Park Singers (Ireland)

  • Vӓrmlands Nations Choir (Sweden)

The Ateneo College Glee Club was the only Filipino choir to participate and compete in the music festival.

Each of the choirs had to sing 3 pieces of their choice: a piece composed before 1750, an original piece by a living composer, and a piece by a composer of the choir’s native country.

Led by their conductor, Professor Ma Lourdes V. Hermo, ACGC won first prize after garnering the highest score of 93.89%.

RECEIVING AWARD. Conductor Ma Lourdes V. Hermo with Cork Int'l Choral Festival organizers and mayor of Cork (holding the trophy) upon the receipt of the Fleischmann International Trophy. Photo from the Ateneo College Glee Club

Aside from the Fleischmann International Trophy, ACGC also won the Heinrich Schütz Perpetual Trophy, a special award given for the best performance and interpretation of a piece by the said composer; and the Peace Trophy, an award for the choir that best embodies the ideals and aims of the music festival.


Many Europe-based Filipinos attended the event to support the ACGC but they were not alone in doing so. The mostly European audience showed enthusiastic support as well and gave the group endless praises and cheers for their outstanding performances.

“The crowd even stomped their feet,” said ACGC member Luigi Cortez. “In Ireland, that is said to be a very high form of appreciation of a performance.”

Member Miggi Angangco shared how heartened they all were at this warm response as it showed how much they were actually able to reach out and transcend race and language barriers through music. 

Despite the competition looming at the end of the weeklong festivities, the choral festival had a very fun and friendly atmosphere all throughout, which, according to festival organizer and artistic director John Fitzpatrick, was really the intention of the event.

The goal was simply to celebrate and share the wonders of choral music with one another, he said.

The diverse mix of participants that spanned cultures, ages, and nationalities perfectly manifested this goal as the many activities that simultaneously took place brought everyone together.

The organizers set up a big party after all the events, giving one final opportunity for the choirs to interact, make friends, and create a whole lot of lasting memories from the one of a kind musical experience.

Worth it’

The choral festival at Cork was one of the last stops of the ACGG’s’s 48-day European tour. When asked about all the preparations they went through, ACGC externals vice president Daniella Dasig said, “We all had to sacrifice a lot: school, work, family, and friends outside the glee club.”

PINOY PRIDE. Celebration photo after awarding ceremony. Photo from Cork Int'l Choral Festival's official website

The members agreed, however, that it was all worth it.

More than the recognition and accolades, they are thankful for the opportunity to show the world our rich Filipino musical heritage.

Now that they are back home, the ACGC plans to promote the beauty of choral music to local communities by engaging them in more shows and concerts in the future. They look forward to continuing to become ambassadors of Philippine culture both locally and abroad. –

The ACGC will hold a homecoming concert on June 10, 7:30 pm, at the Philam Life Auditorium. Admission is free. Check their Facebook page for more details.

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