The University of Georgia Hodgson Singers took second place at the prestigious 18th Marktoberdorf International Chamber Choir Competition in Marktoberdorf, Germany, May 26-30.
Twelve choirs from around the world faced four days of competitive rounds, master classes, concerts and cultural exchange, and the Hodgson Singers were awarded the highest level of achievement—Excellence at an International Level. They won the second-place prize alongside St. Nicholas Choir Litija from Slovenia.
From the stage of their UGA concert in March 2023, the Hodgson Singers conductor Daniel Bara announced that they had been invited to participate in this international competition following a rigorous audition process. In addition to being one of 12 choirs accepted, and only nine mixed voice choirs, the Hodgson Singers were also the only choir from the United States to participate.
“It was already an honor for us to be invited to this prestigious opportunity, but it was truly a joy to see and hear our singers move the audiences in the way they did while abroad,” said Bara, John D. Boyd UGA Foundation Professor of Choral Music and the director of choral activities in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music. “I am so proud of our students and so very grateful for the support we received to make all of this possible.”
The Hodgson Singers began their journey in Vienna, Austria, on May 25, which included a performance at the Baroque Roman Catholic Church Peterskirche. The next day, they arrived in Marktoberdorf for the competition itself.
“It was tremendous. never have I had more fun performing. We got to experience the full breadth of variety in choral music across the world, and that is going to influence all of us in different ways, but they will be experiences that we draw on forever,” said John Drake, a recent graduate in vocal performance.
Throughout the competition, the singers competed on the stage of the Modeon Performance Venue, presenting shared concerts with some of the other choirs in various locations throughout the Bavarian countryside in the evenings. On consecutive evenings, the Hodgson Singers performed in the Church of St. Peter and Paul in Irsee, the Dreifaltigkeitskirche in Kaufbeuren, and at St. Andreas in Nesselwang, sharing concerts with capacity audiences alongside choirs from Germany, the Republic of Georgia and Slovenia.
Support from several Hugh Hodgson School of Music donors, study abroad scholarships and significant support from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office, Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, Office of Research and the Office of the President guaranteed that every student would be able to make the trip.
“Without the financial assistance provided for us, I would not have been able to go on this trip,” said Spencer Kenyon, a third-year student in music education. “I am so thankful to everyone who contributed. It was a dream come true to be here and compete.”
“Dr. Dan Bara and the Hodgson Singers performed with incredible artistry and musicianship, and they were an audience favorite throughout the competition,” said Peter Jutras, Hodgson School of Music director and Despy Karlas Professor of Piano, who attended the competition. “We have a world-class choir program at the HHSOM, and it is thrilling to see the students earn this well-deserved, international recognition. Bravi to all the students and Dr. Bara.”
Jutras noted the fellowship and camaraderie that developed between these choirs from all over the world and that became a special part of the experience for the students.
“I absolutely loved how this trip revealed that music truly is a universal language. And more than that, it allows for a camaraderie of individuals who love choral music and the messages that it can spread,” said Livy Baxley, who will be graduating next year with a major in mathematics with minors in social work and vocal music.
“The trip was everything I could have hoped for and more … a life changing competition that brought us together as a choir and made us stronger and more confident musicians,” said Audrey Vasquez, a second-year music education student.
“Meeting choir nerds from all around the world was amazing; there was so much love. Even through language barriers, we could find love and joy,” said Danielle Olivares, a fourth-year student majoring in accounting, “I feel proud to be a Dawg.”