The 7th edition of ChoirFest ME, an annual choral festival and competition, has been taking over schools in the UAE to highlight promising young voices since February. But this month, adult choir sessions kick off, culminating in a weekend of workshops and a diverse gala at The Dubai Opera. Here is your guide to what’s happening where, and how you can be in on the action.
THURSDAY (MARCH 7): WORKSHOPS AND AL BAYT CONCERT
Learn conducting, vocal technique and more — 9am-1.15pm at The Fridge (Dh50 entry)
9am-10.30am: Ragnar Rasmussen will lead a choral conducting workshop to start the day. Rasmussen is often found judging national and international choir and conductor competitions. The Norwegian conductor, 52, began as a church musician, before teaching in schools, and becoming a full professor at the Music Conservatory, University of Tromso in Norway.
10.30am-11.45am: Italian composer, conductor and violinist Lorenzo Donati teaches vocal technique and phrasing. Donati, whose compositions are performed by ensembles around the world, teaches choral conducting at the Conservatory of Trento.
12am-1.15pm: Baritone and tenor Frank Havroy shares his expertise in extended vocal technique, and creating crazy sounds for contemporary music. He joined the Nordic Voices, a acclaimed classical six-piece a cappella group, in 1997, and continues to work as a freelance singer and composer across different genres.
Al Bayt Concert — 8pm at The Fridge
On the evening of March 7, Gardenia Choir from Syria and Mosaic Singers from Jordan will take the stage. Gardenia is an all-female Syrian group, who promote peace and social tolerance in a society impacted by war. Led by Opera singer Ghada Harb, it’s touted as the first woman’s vocal choir in Syria and the region. Mosaic, meanwhile, come from Jordan. They perform under the theme of a mosaic; as a mosaic joins differently coloured glasses or stones to create art, Mosaic brings together people of different ages, backgrounds and professional experience to create a memorable sound.
MARCH 8: WORKSHOP AND ‘CHOIR OF THE YEAR’
A cappella workshop — 10.30am at GEMS Wellington Academy, Silicon Oasis (Free admission)
10.30am-1pm: Danish expert Havroy takes the lead at this free-to-attend workshop, which explores a cappella singing and ends with an improvised choral experience. The session is open to choral singers of all ages.
Choir of the Year Competition — 3pm-6pm at GEMS Wellington Academy, Silicon Oasis (Free admission)
Regional and UAE-based choirs go head to head for the ultimate title of Choir of the Year. The contest features three categories: Junior, Senior and Adult. In addition, choirs can compete for Best Regional, Best Corporate, and Most Dynamic Choir. Gardenia Choir and Mosaic Singers will compete.
MARCH 9: THE BIG FINALE
Gala concert — 3pm at The Dubai Opera (Tickets start from Dh75)
The finale of ChoirFestME returns to The Dubai Opera on the afternoon of March 9. The festival this year drew out 2,800 singers overall, including 2,500 students from across 55 different schools. The gala concert will feature winners of the Choir of the Year, of all ages and nationalities, as well as other talents from the Middle East.