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 studied with Péter Erdei in Budapest and Michael Gläser in Munich. Teaching choir conducting at the Liszt Academy’s Kodály Institute since 2005, Zoltán won many awards during his career, including the Audience Award and a Special Prize at the 4th International Competition for Young Conductors organised by Europa Cantat. He finished his doctoral studies in 2011 with summa cum laude.
Between 2009 and 2014, Zoltán Pad was chief conductor of the Kodály Choir Debrecen, one of the few professional choirs in Hungary. During those years , Zoltán conducted over 130 concerts with the choir in Hungary and Europe. Under his direction, the Kodály Choir was awarded Prima Award. Zoltán was also a member of the Artistic Board of Béla Bartók International Choir Competition, even assuming the role of Artistic Director of the contest in 2013 and 2014.
Zoltán is now chief conductor of the Hungarian Radio Choir. He’s also a returning jury member at international choir and conductor competitions and is a regularly invited guest at music workshops and conducting master courses worldwide.
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. This includes first overall at competitions in Budapest, Maasmechelen in Belgium, Arezzo in Italy, and the Fleischmann International Trophy at the 2015 Cork International Choral Festival. New Dublin Voices is honoured to be one of 24 choirs selected worldwide to perform at the 11 th World Symposium on Choral Music in Barcelona this coming July. New Dublin Voices is also one of three choirs selected to take part in the Tarragona Singing Week in Spain, also in July.
Bernie has an international profile as an adjudicator, workshop leader, 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 Association 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.