Mark Armstrong is one of Ireland’s most accomplished and versatile musicians. A love of choral music commenced at an early age as a boy chorister and developed through his years in Trinity College Dublin where he was invited to direct the College Singers, a sixteen voice chamber choir and Musica Sacra, a choral group specialising in works of the high Baroque. Mark is also an accomplished arranger for choir, wind band and orchestra, an award-winning published composer of choral music and producer of recordings for many of Ireland’s foremost artists.
Guest conducting engagements have included concert performances and recordings with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Opera Theatre Company, Irish Film Orchestra, RTÉ Chamber Choir, RTE Philharmonic Choir, National Chamber Choir, and RTÉ Cór na nÓg. Mark has been musical director of both Dún Laoghaire Choral Society and Tallaght Choral Society and has conducted collaborative concert performances with the Liverpool Welsh Choral Union (Requiem – G. Verdi) and the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union (German Requiem – J. Brahms). He has been a board member of the Association of Irish Choirs and has acted as conducting tutor on conducting courses run by AOIC.
Mark currently holds the appointment of Director of the Defence Forces School of Music in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel with responsibility for the administration, policy, planning, programming and musical direction of Ireland’s military bands. In 2014 he conducted a highly acclaimed performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana in an arrangement for choir and wind band at the Gala Opening concert of the Cork International Choral Festival featuring bands of the Defence Forces. Mark is delighted to have been invited back to Cork as an International adjudicator in this year’s Festival.
Greg Beardsell is a leading light in music education and performance. He is Music Director of the Royal College of Music Chamber Choir, the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland, the Peace Proms, Artistic Director of the Irish Youth Choir and Choral Director for the Gabrieli Consort and Players’ education initiative, Gabrieli ROAR. He is also Deputy Artistic Director of National Youth Choirs of Great Britain and Artistic Director of the International Youth Choir Festival at the Royal Albert Hall. He has adjudicated at the Grand Finals of the UK Choir of the Year competition, the Feis Ceoil and the Llangollen Eisteddfod.
In recent years, Greg has held the directorships of the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, Ulster Youth Choir and Wooburn Singers and has worked with the St. Endellion Festival Chorus, BBC Symphony Chorus, London Bach Choir and the London Symphony Chorus and collaborated with conductors such as Marin Alsop, Edward Gardner and Sir Colin Davis. He has directed the National Youth Orchestras of Ireland and Ulster, the City of London Sinfonia, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra.
He has presented seminars on conducting, choral techniques and teaching strategies for Cambridge University, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cornell University New York and music education hubs across the UK.
Maria Gamborg Helbekkmo is professor emeritus at Bergen University College, where she taught choir conducting, piano, and solo voice. Educated as a pianist, singer and conductor, she has gained wide recognition as a musician and teacher, and is especially known for her work with the female choir Voci Nobili. Her determination, combined with her artistic abilities and her unique musical ambience resulted in 11 international 1st prizes with this choir.
In 2005 she won the Norwegian Choral Association’s annual prize with Voci Nobili, and in 2006 she was awarded H.M. The Kings Medal of Merit in Gold for her educational and artistic contribution to Norwegian music.
Georg Grün is considered to be one of the most sought-after international choral conductors and specialists for choral sound. He founded the KammerChor Saarbrücken in 1990 and has been its artistic director ever since then. He has won important international and national choir competitions, he gives concerts at numerous renowned music festivals and he regularly produces CDs with Carus-Verlag and Rondeau Productions. From 2000 until 2012 he held a professorship for choral conducting at the Musikhochschule in Mannheim. There, he founded a chamber choir with which he also won several international prizes. In 2012, Georg Grün changed to the Hochschule für Musik Saar as a professor and became artistic director of the Ev. Chorgemeinschaft an der Saar.
Georg Grün works as guest conductor, guest professor, juror and tutor at international masterclasses for choral conducting both nationally and internationally. He is a mentor at the forum for conductors of the German Music Council and Chairman at the international jury of the chamber choir competition in Marktoberdorf. In 2017 concerts, lectures, master classes and guest performances will take him to Estonia, France, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, Turkey and the United States.
Zoltán Pad (1980) studied with Péter Erdei in Budapest and with Michael Gläser in Munich. He worked as choir leader at the Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing. Since 2014 he is chief conductor of the Hungarian Radio Choir.
Between 2009 and 2014, he worked as chief conductor of the Kodály Choir Debrecen, which is one of the few professional choirs in Hungary. During the years Zoltán conducted 130 concert with the choir in Hungary and in Europe, and he prepared 130 more concerts. Among many other pieces he conducted Concerto for Choir by Alfred Schnittke, The Sealed Angel by Rodion Shchedrin and the oratorio The Company of Heaven by Benjamin Britten as Hungarian first performance. Under his direction, the Kodály Choir was awarded Prima Award.
He was the choir master of the joint chorus of the Kodály Choir Debrecen and the Choir of the Hungarian State Opera in Verdi’s Aida production in Doha in 2012, which was the first opera performance in the history of Qatar. He finished his doctoral studies in 2011 with summa cum laude, the title of his DLA thesis is: The ‘Passion’ of Dietrich Buxtehude. In 2007, he won the Audience Award and a Special Prize at the 4th International Competition for Young Conductors (organised by Europa Cantat). Zoltán Pad has been teaching choir conducting at the Liszt Academy’s Kodály Institute since 2005.
July 2016 he was chorus master of a new oratorio „Halleluja” composed by Péter Eötvös at the Salzburg Festival. It was performed by the Hungarian Radio Choir and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Harding. He conducted several contemporary a cappella pieces as first performance with the Radio Choir – most of them were also recorded for the Hungarian Radio.
Zoltán Pad is regularly invited guest at music workshops and conducting master courses worldwide, he is regularly working with youth choirs and amateur choirs as well. He is a returning jury member at international choir and conductor competitions. Between 2009 and 2014 he was member of the Artistic Board of Béla Bartók International Choir Competition – in 2013/14 artistic director of the contest.
Bernie Sherlock studied choral conducting for two years with Peter Erdei and Ildikó Herboly Kocsár in Hungary, followed by orchestral conducting with Gerhard Markson in Dublin. She earned a BA in music from Trinity College Dublin and a Masters in Performance and Musicology from NUI Maynooth.
Her award-winning chamber choir New Dublin Voices is a consistent prize-winner at major competitions around Europe as well as in Ireland. Most recently this includes Grand Prix in Budapest, Hungary; in Arezzo, Italy, and the Fleischmann International Trophy at the 2015 Cork International Choral Festival.
Bernie has an international profile as an adjudicator, choral animateur, teacher of conducting and aural training and she has won several international prizes for her conducting and interpretation. She is a Lecturer in Music at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, Artistic Director of the Assocation of Irish Choir’s annual International Conducting Summer School, and the Irish representative on the World Choir Council. Bernie has been Musical Director of the Culwick Choral Society since 2008.