Just four years since its founding, the Miriam College Middle School Chorus (MCMS Chorus) is making its voice heard loud and clear after winning Gold and Silver prize awards in the Folklore and Children’s Choir Categories at the 1st Tokyo International Choir Competition (TICC) held in Harumi in Tokyo, Japan from July 27-29, 2018. They also won the Audience Choice Award for the Folklore Category, besting 59 other local and international choirs.
The 30-member, all-girls MCMS Chorus was accompanied by conductor and musical director Sinamar Respicio and its founder and artistic director Jhames Labrador.
For both categories, the group composed of girls from 11-14 years old, competed against choirs from Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and South Korea, Russia, Indonesia Belarus, along with other groups from Japan.
“I think this year’s competition is unique for us because, unlike other choral competitions, it has an elimination round where in you have to send a recording of the group. The adjudicators evaluate who gets to the final round, and luckily, we got chosen for children’s and folklore category. So technically, being chosen in the final round is already something,” says Labrador who is also currently the Middle School’s Music Area Supervisor.
The adjudicators of the competition are composed of choir and composition experts from all over the world. It is noteworthy to mention that one of them is Japan-based Filipino composer John August Pamintuan. Other esteemed members of the jury include Georg Grün from Germany, Javier Busto from Spain, Anton Armstrong, from USA, and Nelson Kwei from Singapore.
The Japan competition is not without its challenges adds Labrador, citing that the weather was something the girls had to contend with during their stay. “When we left, we heard in the news that Japan was struck by the heat wave. However, on the day we left for Tokyo, a big storm was heading towards the country, too. We were lucky the storm changed its course, however, we experienced sudden change in weather so some of the members had either colds or developed cough before the competitions but we managed, thanks to the parents who came along.”
This is the third competition the young ensemble has joined. Their first was in 2017 at the 10th Orientale Concentus International Choral Competition in Singapore where they brought home silver awards for both Equal Voices and Folklore category. On the same year, they joined the prestigious National Competitions for Young Artists (NAMCYA) where they won second prize.
Currently the group continues it thrice a week regular training, with Labrador on the lookout for prestigious local and international competitions where the group can hone their skills further and, in the process, bring pride to both country and school.