Qatar Youth Choir (QYC) recently won a gold medal in the prestigious 26th International Choral Competition held in Preveza, Greece, under the Original Repertoire category. The competition was part of the 40th International Choral Festival.

The 37 young choristers were under the guidance of Conductor and Director, Alena Pyne, who said they were all thrilled for winning the gold medal. Apart from one other youth choir, all the other competitors in the section were adult choirs.

The judging panel was made up of eight world-renowned adjudicators. I am so proud of the choir. We have worked so hard and the quality of the programme we presented was extremely high.

In addition to the gold medal, the choir also won the award for best stage presentation and their conductor was awarded the prize for best pedagogical approach.

Best weeks of their lives

But the choir’s tour was about so much more than performing and prizes. Choir leader, Mattias Van Alsenoy, said that the tour has been one of the best weeks of his life.

Not only did we travel again after a three-year wait, but we did so with our best friends, not to mention the new friends we made along the way.

It was his first time to be the choir leader on a trip, and he said that it’s interesting to see how the logistics work, behind the scenes. The experience, he said, has really helped him grow as a singer and leader.

Deputy Leader, Rehan Valsan Pillay added that the trip to Greece was so precious.

Every moment – from the second we landed in Athens to the food we ate, to the people we met, to the bus rides we sang our hearts out on, to the second we took off – was filled with joy and happiness.

The choir was warmly welcomed in the small but bustling town of Preveza, encountering many acts of kindness from locals and visitors alike. Some choir members travelled with their families, who were delighted to enjoy their performances, held at indoor and outdoor venues. Together, they watched the finals of the conducting contest and several other categories of the choral competition.

QYC members themselves hail from over 15 different countries, but in Greece, they met other singers from all over the world. QYC ensured their allegiance was instantly recognisable, wearing Qatari colours, carrying the Qatari flag, and commencing their participation on opening night with two Arabic songs.

Qatar Youth Choir Greece

Working towards winning the gold medal, Mattias said that the tour has been the hardest and yet his most rewarding and fulfilling experience with QYC, adding that representing Qatar, their home and the place where they all met, has made him equally proud.

Rehan shared that the rehearsals, the challenges, the hours they spent on the competition, were completely worth it when their name was called for the gold medal.

We can’t thank Ms Alena Pyne enough for all the opportunities she has given us.

Finishing the tour was a bittersweet moment for Alena, who will leave Doha after 11 years here, to take up a role teaching choirs in Seoul, South Korea.

QYC and its affiliated ensemble, the Qatar Junior Choir, will continue to operate under the wing of the Qatar Music Academy and its director, Maestro Zlatan Fazlić, allowing young people from across Doha to learn the art of choral ensemble music-making in a close, supportive environment.

For more information about joining the choirs, send an email to [email protected].

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