Korean choir grabs top award at international competition


Korea’s Gracias Choir won the top prize at the 14th International Chamber Competition Marktoberdorf, one of the world’s most prestigious chamber choir competitions, last Tuesday.

Helmed by choir leader Park Eun-sook and conductor Boris Abalyan, Gracias Choir competed with 10 other teams in the competition’s mixed choirs category and won first place for its performances, which included “Blessed Art Thou” by Rachmaninoff and Korean folk song “Gakseoli Taryeong.” The choir was additionally awarded a special prize for romantic choral work.

Formed in 2000, Gracias Choir is a nonprofit music group that aims to provide public services and spread the reach of classical music through international cooperation and educational institutions. It currently runs the Gracias Music Academy of Mahanaim in New York and the Gracias Music Preparatory School in Korea.

Gracias Choir performing at the Modeon Theater in Marktoberdorf, Germany, at the 14th International Chamber Competition Marktoberdorf. (Gracias Choir)

Each year, Gracias Choir stages concerts in collaboration with Russia’s Saint Petersburg State Conservatory and visits over 30 countries to give charity performances. The group has performed at established venues such as the Sydney Opera House, New York’s Madison Square Garden and the Haydn Hall in Eisenstadt, Austria.

Gracias Choir has also reaped accolades for its work, including top awards at the 2009 Jeju International Choir Festival, the 2010 Busan Choral Festival and Competition, the 2014 Swiss Montreux Choral Festival and the 2014 International Choir Competition Riva del Garda in Italy.

The biennial Marktoberdorf competition took place from May 22-27 in the German city of Marktoberdorf. It traditionally features two categories ― mixed choirs and female choirs ― with the top honor awarded to the winner of the mixed choirs.

Second place in mixed choirs went to the University of Oregon Chamber Choir, while third place was awarded to Ukraine’s Choir Oreya, Indonesia’s Batavia Madrigal Singers and U.S.’ Ghostlight Chorus.

Five teams participated in this year’s female choirs category; first, second and third prizes went to Latvia, Ukraine and Estonia’s teams, respectively.

By Rumy Doo (