Women’s choir beats world in music contest

Belcanto women's choir, of Kettering, who won their category in the 2012 Llangollen International Festival
Belcanto women's choir, of Kettering, who won their category in the 2012 Llangollen International Festival

A women’s choir has received a huge confidence boost after winning one of the world’s most respected music competitions at the third attempt.

Kettering-based Belcanto women’s choir won Female Choir of the Year in the Llangollen International Eisteddfod after coming second in 2010 and third last year.

Jo Milson, 23, of Desborough, who has been in the choir for four years, said: “It was absolutely incredible.

“It gives us the confidence boost we needed.

“Before, in concerts over the months, you get reaction from the audience but getting comments from judges reinforces that we are not an average choir.

“We are really, really good and it makes it all worthwhile.”

The singers impressed judges in front of about 1,000 watching music fans at the festival, in which Luciano Pavarotti and Faryl Smith have previously competed, on July 7.

The choir, which has about 30 members, performed three songs in an 11-minute programme.

The singers started with the contemporary song Friends by Bob Chilcott. The 21st century piece’s clapping rhythms which contrast with its quieter singing allowed the singers to show the full range of their abilities.

Miss Milson said: “It was a good song to pick because it showed us at our best in one piece. That gave us the confidence to continue.”

The choir, which has grown from 12 members when founded six years ago, continued with the ethereal Hymn to Vena by Gustav Holst and finished with Psalm 150 by Ernani Aguiar.

Miss Milson and her mother Chris are one of a number of mum-and-daughter pairs who sing in the choir.

She said: “It gives you a real bonding moment when you are singing together. You almost get closer together because you are working closely together.”

And the pair are already planning to recruit Miss Milson’s 17-month-old daughter Ruby.

Miss Milson, of Sycamore Drive, said: “She’s been watching us perform and clapping along with us – not always in time, but we’ll work on that.”

For more information about the choir, which narrowly missed a place in the final of BBC Choir of the Year, visit www.belcantokettering.co.uk.