Posted on March 16, 2020

The fourth edition of ‘Qatar School Choir of the Year,’ an annual competition organised by Doha College, has clocked multiple records in terms of participating choirs, venue, number of students and indeed singing standards. Originally called ‘Qatar Primary School Choir of the Year,’ the competition was brought to life in 2017 by a team of music teachers, parent volunteers and choir enthusiasts from Doha College, to add new breadth to the music in the country.

Such was the success of the competition, that the participation more than doubled in size since inception, increasing from 12 choirs in the inaugural edition to 28 this year, a total of 1,343 children from across the country. To match its new size, the competition moved to the world-class venue Qatar National Convention Centre, which provided an outstanding space and facilities for the audiences and the young singers. The three-day event consisted of ‘big-sing’ workshops with all the participating children, held at the elegant JW Marriott Hotel, a full day of heats at QNCC, and the grand final attended by many VIPs. 

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A good part of the phenomenal rise of the competition can be attributed to Greg Beardsell, renowned international choral expert, who headed the adjudication panel and delivered inspiring workshops to hundreds of children each year. Greg has conducted the BBC Symphony Chorus, London Bach Choir and the London Symphony Chorus, the National Youth Orchestras of Ireland and Ulster, the City of London Sinfonia, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra in a range of performance and education projects. The love of singing that he sparked in Qatar’s young children spread like a ripple, seeing the emergence of new choirs and renewed enthusiasm about this centuries-long tradition in schools.

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The adjudicating panel included Alena Pyne – founder and director of Qatar Youth and Qatar Junior Choirs, a founding member of Sing Qatar and first appointed chairperson of the Association for Choirs in Qatar, Kees Wieringa – a Dutch musician of International reputation, who currently holds the post of Director of the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum, and Olga Proropopova – Principal for the International Centre for Music in Doha since 2006. This year’s laurels went to Doha British School KS1 Choir (ages 5-8 category), Mesaieed International School Primary Choir (ages 8-11 category) and Oryx Secondary Choir (ages 11-14 category). The latter also walked away with the ‘Overall Winner’ title, having delivered an exquisite performance far beyond their years, as Greg Beardsell put it. Alec Jackson from Mesaieed International School won the Conductor Award, and the DBS KS1 Choir won the Stagecraft Award.

Dr Steffen Sommer, Principal of Doha College, said about QSCoY: “The motto of the competition is ‘Uniting children through singing,’ and this is exactly what it does. Children in the 21st century understand better and better that their own learning will only be enhanced by being with other students and doing things together, and music is just a fantastic band to unite.”