Eurovision Choir of the Year: Slovenia’s Carmen Manet wins first edition of new choral contest

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Slovenia made an early exit at the Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv, but they have something major to cheer about this evening.

That’s because its all-female Carmen Manet choral group won the first-ever edition of Eurovision Choir of the Year — the newest addition to the Eurovision Family of Events from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

Praised for their sense of storytelling and for promoting a notion of girl power, the group opened with women spinning in a circle and later had a singer pretending to cry. But even more important than their theatricality were their harmonies and sense of togetherness as they took on two songs with spirit and vigour.

Eurovision Choir of the Year: The Winners

Organised by Latvian Television and host broadcaster LIVE RIGA in partnership with Interkultur, this year’s competition took place in the Latvian capital of Riga — a choral hotspot known for hosting the European Choir Games.

Grammy-winning composer and conductor Eric Whitacre co-hosted tonight’s event alongside Latvian Television’s culture presenter Eva Johansone.

Nine choirs participated and for the first time ever in a Eurovision event, Wales competed as its own nation. Looks like Lucie Jones isn’t the only Welsh representative of 2017!

Running order

    1. Estonia – Estonian TV Girls’ Choir
    2. Denmark – Academic Choir of Aarhus
    3. Belgium – Les Pastoreaux
    4. Germany – Jazzchor Freiburg
    5. Slovenia – Carmen Manet
    6. Hungary – Bela Bartok Male Choir
    7. Wales – Côr Merched Sir Gâr
    8. Austria – Hardchor Linz
    9. Latvia – Spigo

Each choir performed a six-minute set without accompanying music or backing track. The performances involved one or several works and pieces reflecting the participating country’s national or regional character.

That latter point is up for interpretation and the scope is clearly very broad. Estonia’s group seemed to channel aspects of Kerli’s “Spirit Animal”, while the Hungarians dressed as waiters holding (presumably Hungarian) wine. The Danes made a lot of animal noises and the Austrians sang about the rutabega (as in the vegetable).

Results

The winner was decided by a three-member jury panel: British composer John Rutter, German conductor Nicolas Fink and Latvian mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca. They judged all of the performances based on the following criteria:

  • The artistic personality of the choir
  • Faithfulness to the musical score
  • Quality of the sound and intonation
  • General musicianship

After all nine countries performed, it was up to the juries to make their all-important deliberations. And after a nervous wait, Elina announced Slovenia as the Eurovision Choir of the Year. Eurovision debutants Wales were confirmed as the runners-up and host country Latvia finished third.

What do you think of Eurovision Choir of the Year? Were Slovenia’s Carmen Manet your favourite choir? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo: Reinis Rudzitis (LTV)