Choral festival celebrates Macau’s spiritual heritage

HONG KONG (SE): The 4th edition of Cantata Macau, the International Choral Singing Festival of Macau, will run from November 8 to 10, in Macau. This year the festival will feature competitions between reputed choirs from Asia with a Grand Prix award of MOP50,000 ($48,543). The event will open at 2.00pm on November 8 at Fatima Church and conclude at 7.30pm on November 11 at St. Paul School Auditorium.

The festival is organised by the St. Augustine’s Choir, Macau, with its spiritual director, Claretian Father Jijo Kandamkulathy. Now in its fourth year, it is sponsored by different government agencies in Macau, such as the Tourism and Cultural Departments and The Macau Foundation.

The idea of the choral festival germinated with the need to redefine Macau as a place of spiritual heritage rather than as a haven for gamblers. The gambling industry does not represent the people living there, rather it entertains the people who visit. What truly represents Macau is its spiritual heritage and long Catholic tradition. 

With the talent at hand, as well as Catholic World Heritage sites, the organisers found choral singing truly represented Macau’s Catholic past and its true spiritual nature.

The festival has become a platform for people from different cultures to meet and share their musical experiences in what is also an enriching experience for the participants themselves. The participation of schools in the event has increased over the years indicating the educational value of such international events everywhere.

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This year, 17 acclaimed choirs in the international choral circuit from eight different countries are scheduled to participate. The joint symphony in which all the choirs will take part is to be conducted by the maestro from Macau, Barrie Briones.

This is an event awaited by the connoisseurs of music. 

“Although I did not quite understand the meaning, the heart rending Filipino song, Anak, stood out in rendition and performance (last year). I noticed that some Filipinos sitting near me sobbed loudly during the performance of the song. Eventually, I learned from others that the song depicted the heart-melting story of the parents lamenting a son lost to drug addiction. That was a song with social relevance as well,” said Judy, one of last year’s the guests.

“The choirs also brought in the mood of Christmas in early December itself. Aptly, they added some world famous carol songs to the event. We were smoothly elevated to the Christmas mood. I did not realise how the song accompanied us home us until, I heard my little son hum the tune over and over again,” said another participant from last year.

One of the highlights this year is the electronic booking system. Those who want to participate in the event can scan the QR code and register their attendance online. The festival also features a competition for the most popular choir. Guests can vote for their choice of the best choir on their own mobiles and an award will be given to the choir that earns the highest votes. 

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