Nove Voce, a local choral society, has returned to Prince George with silver medals from the INTERKULTUR Grand Prix of Nations and Fourth European Choir Games event held in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Choirs from all over the world gathered to compete and participate in mass choir performances and workshops.
"The city of Gothenburg is spectacular," Robin Norman, Nove Voce's choir director, said. "It's got this beautiful balance of old and new, so the venues we were singing in were glorious."
Stora Teatern is a grand theatre in Gothenburg that has four tiers of box seats and everything is gilded, Norman described.
"Oh, it was just such a joy," she added.
"We went in there to sing and we all sound like angels because the acoustics are so good."
The other competition was held in a university hall.
"We got to perform in front of these glorious murals from 1750 and it was just so beautiful," Norman said. "We were feeling pretty overwhelmed with some of that, especially because the city of Gothenburg really opened its arms to everybody. It was pretty lovely that way."
The group competed in two categories, folk song and chamber.
As for the Grand Prix of Nations competition which is for national title holders, Norman said Nove Voce members were happy and sad about it.
"The girls sang really well and about half the judges recognized that," she said. "It's like the marking power in figure skating so the judge from Indonesia loved us and gave us nines across the board, but Sweden did not. The judge gave us fives."
Other judges from South Africa and Britain gave scores between 7.5 and 8.5 and Norman said she believes Nove Voce's performances were more in line with their scores than the Swedish judge's score. For scores to come in between 5 and 9 is something Norman considers quite diverse and no critique or explanation will be forthcoming.
Norman was able to offer her assessment of the choir she leads and said she understood when the choir sang Log Driver's Waltz with more expression and had more fun they were awarded .5 higher and during another performance .2 was taken from their score when they momentarily lost rhythm.
"And that made total sense to me," Norman said. "We knew we weren't going to walk away with the grand championship. There are choirs competing that have done this for several years and this is our first time. So we just went in saying we're doing this to represent Canada because Canada hasn't been in the Grand Prix of Nations for a while."
Nove Voce took in a workshop with South African choral director, composer and clinician Christo Burger, who said they were an impeccably prepared group and he loved their sound. He pushed them harder to make them better, Norman said. He was so in tune with the choir he could point to an individual and offer constructive advice.
"It was a pretty remarkable experience," Norman said.
Nove Voce participated in a Friendship Concert with choirs from Norway, China and Denmark.
The local choir made such an impression that the Norwegian choir wants to come to Prince George for a visit, Norman said.
The choir had support from family and friends who made the trip with them and just made it so much easier, she added.
Canfor donated black and red plaid jackets for the choir to wear while they sang classic Canadian folk songs like the Log Driver's Waltz. Local businesses and individuals sponsored the group in such a way that if money was the only thing standing in the way of the choir member attending the competition, the non-profit choral society, who was also able to fundraise throughout the year, was able to help make it happen.
For more information about the choir visit www.novevoce.ca.