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GORIZA, Italy (July 21, 2013) – The Portland State Chamber Choir won the first-place “Grand Prix” award at the 52nd annual Seghizzi International Choral Competition last week.
PSU’s choir is the first US ensemble in nine years to be invited to this competition, which featured 22 top choirs from 21 countries. The competition featured musical categories ranging from 19th and 20th century classical genres to folk and popular music.
Finalists were determined based on scores in the classical categories. Choirs competing in the finals were able to perform any song or genre of their choosing. Portland State's final set included: "A Boy and a Girl" by Eric Whitacre; "Desh" arr. by Ethan Sperry; "Pater Noster" by Giuseppe Verde; "Blessed Art Thou O Lord" by Sergei Rachmaninoff; and "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen, arr. by Ethan Sperry.
“It's quite an amazing feeling -- I'm not sure it's completely real yet,” said PSU choir director Ethan Sperry. “I told everybody all along that we're not competing with the other choirs, we're just competing with ourselves to do the best we possibly can, and they did. I've never seen a group work so hard every single day, every single minute. It's unbelievable the level of focus and commitment.
“If anyone in the larger United States is paying attention, I think they should be proud of us being able to cross cultural barriers and show the best side of our country," he added.
In addition to placing first in the overall competition, PSU won top honors in the categories of 19th Century Classical, Spiritual, and Choreography, among several other awards.