It was a glorious weekend in New Ross for the 26th AIMS Choral Festival with David Hennessy’s Junior Stage School winning the Cameo competition with a Hairspray number. Glenn Murphy or that school won a strongly contested Youth Solo Section and Holly Ryan was pipped into second in a Girl’s Solo Section. These wins should add a further gloss to David Hennessy’s School who open new premises on 19th June.

In the Sunday adult competitions Waterford Male Voice Choir under the inspirational direction of Niall Crowley won two major competitions and Carmel Brennan’s choir Voci directed by the wonderful Anne Barry won the D.McCullough Piggott Trophy. Carrick-on-Suir were narrowly pipped in a very strong mixed choir section.

This was a weekend to savour for music and musical theatre lovers and Anne-Marie Caulfield of the new Waterford International Music Festival, outlined to visitors the hopes and plans to revitalised the 50th Opera Festival in November. The highlights of Saturday were a new Workshop in Musical Theatre led by Ann Marie Cooney, Bill Stafford and Kevin O’Carroll and an Evening Gala at St.Michael’s Theatre and I must praise Tomas Kavanagh and his staff for their assistance to me as was Angela Tobin of AIMS Choral Festival.

The concert featured Thurles Musical Society with Michael McLoughlin and Cathy Keane in excellent form. Linda Ryan thrilled me in Tell Me It’s Not True and Francis Butler caught the pathos of I Only Want To Say from Parade.

Of the several choral competitions’ I attended on Sunday I loved Voci and the Waterford Male Voice Choir, whose What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor was exceptional.

Carrick-on-Suir wowed me twice with Bring Him Home, in the theatre and in the street when hundreds stood in awe as they raised the temperature with vocal happiness.

The Kill Singers directed by Emer Hartnett provided a dreamy Moon River. Dun Laoghaire MS were so impressive as was Jimmy O’Byrne’s new Song and Dance Youth Theatre with a David Friedman song.

New Ross must have had a rush of blood to the brain as they changed the rules of the Cameo Competition to a musical content only award. This used to be a fine example of Musical theatre, now it is just a technical choral exercise.