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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Leading NI choir festival scales up with launch of global Virtual Choral Trail

National Popular, Jazz & Gospel Music Competition - Close Shave Chorus, Glasgow.

City of Derry International Choir Festival gets warmed up for 20 October launch with call for choirs in County Antrim to join its showstopping virtual choral event

Ahead of its launch on 20 October, the City of Derry International Choir Festival (CoDICF) in Northern Ireland is calling out to local, national and international choirs to join its 2021 Virtual Choral Trail and secure their spot in the Festival’s unrivalled event line-up.

CoDICF is one of the leading choir festivals globally and the only event of its kind in the United Kingdom. Introduced in 2020, the Virtual Choral Trail was part of the hugely successful entirely digital programme of musical and choral events at the festival, featuring 40 choirs from 12 countries over six continents. A smash success, the event was enjoyed online by over 20,000 viewers from around the globe who were treated to a varied and eclectic mix of music from sacred and spiritual to pop, jazz and funk.

City of Derry International Choir Festival 2017 - (Photo 1) Eller Girls' Choir, Estonia, winners of the City of Derry International Choir Festival 2017. (Photo 2) UIS University Choir, Colombia, runners up in the City of Derry International Choir Festival 2018. (Photo 3) International Competition -Cordyyd, Wales.

As part of this year’s line-up of digital and live, in-person events, the Virtual Choral Trail makes a welcome return, providing a prestigious platform to showcase the brilliant sound of choirs across the world as part of a wider programme boasting incredible performances from internationally renowned artists such as Grammy Award-winning American a cappella ensemble Chanticleer and award-winning choir Tenebrae.

CoDICF Artistic Director, Dónal Doherty, said:

“We are delighted to host our second Virtual Choral Trail this year, which will celebrate the abundance of singing talent worldwide. The Virtual Choral Trail is open to all choirs of any size, musical style and make-up from anywhere in the world and provides a unique opportunity to be a part of our sensational Festival.

“Last year we welcomed choirs from as far away as Colombia, Nigeria and Australia and this year we hope to have even more choirs involved from all corners of the globe. It’s a fantastic opportunity to share and celebrate culture and diversity whilst showcasing the power of song to unite us all.

“This also presents a great opportunity for choirs to get creative with their performances and try something new. Whether you are part of a professional choir, a workplace choir or community choir anywhere in the world, we encourage you to get involved and to share a performance that will be enjoyed by a global audience.”

City of Derry International Choral Festival - Gospel Singer Incognito performing in Newmarket Street as part of the Choral Trail.

Choirs interested in taking part in this year’s CoDICF Virtual Choral Trail should submit a video of their best performance of 3-5 minutes in length by 30 September through the Festival’s website - All submitted videos will be shared online throughout Festival week, 20-24 October, for audiences to enjoy from the comfort of their home.

With a magnificent line-up of performances including Grammy award-winners and exclusive global premier performances, this year’s Festival promises to be a showstopper with an exciting mix of in-person and virtual events across the City of Derry.

This special festival runs live and virtually from Wednesday 20 October until Sunday 24 October. Headline acts include the internationally acclaimed all-male chorus Chanticleer and award-winning vocal ensemble Tenebrae. It will also mark the return of the award-winning Derry chamber choir Codetta as they perform The Road Home in Long Tower Church with Derry cellist Kim Vaughan.

The 2021 Festival kicks off with the Opening Gala Concert on Wednesday 20 October featuring members of the Ulster Orchestra with local choirs and singers performing The Voyage, composed and conducted by world-famous choral director Bob Chilcott.

School performances will also return with a non-competitive format for primary years encouraging children and teachers to take part in the fun and community-spirited Primary Big Sing event in the Millennium Forum.

The Festival is also hopeful that choirs throughout the island of Ireland will return for a day of competitions in various categories including mixed voice, equal voice, youth, sacred, pop, jazz and gospel, culminating in the brand-new Choir of the Festival competition.

“It’s so important to us to get local communities involved in the Festival”, added Dónal. “Music is for everyone and it brings people together. We want to make the events as accessible as possible to those who cannot make it to the city, so we’re urging choirs and ensembles to get involved online and become part of the amazing variety and spectacle that the Festival is renowned for.”

The 2021 Festival is supported by Arts Council Northern Ireland, the Department for Communities, Derry & Strabane District Council, Donegal County Council, Tourism Northern Ireland, Community Foundation Northern Ireland, Inner City Trust, the Irish American Partnership and Caldwell & Robinson Solicitors.

To submit a video for the 2021 Virtual Choral Trail visit:

For more details on this year’s programme and events visit


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