Mark Armstrong [IRELAND]

Mark Armstrong is one of Ireland’s best known musicians with an eclectic career spanning over thirty five years. As a conductor he has immense experience both on the concert platform and in the recording studio. He has conducted all of Ireland’s top ensembles, choirs and bands – National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Irish Film Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Baroque Orchestra of Ireland, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Opera Theatre Company, Irish Youth Wind Ensemble, RTÉ Chamber Choir, National Chamber Choir, Dún Laoghaire Choral Society, Tallaght Choral Society, RTÉ Cór Na n-Óg, RTÉ Philharmonic Choir and the Choral Scholars of University College Dublin.
As an arranger and composer Mark has created many works for choirs, orchestras and bands and was awarded first prize in the Mornington Singers Composition Competition for his original a cappella choral piece Dreaming. Mark enjoys adjudicating at Irish music festivals and has acted as conducting tutor on courses conducted by the Sing Ireland of which he is also a Board member.
Mark’s close association with wind bands commenced in 1989 when he took up a commission in the Irish Defence Forces as a military band conductor. He has held the position of Director of the Defence Forces School of Music since 2010 in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel with responsibility for the formation of Defence Forces musical policy, performance and training of Irish military and pipe bands.

Mervyn Cousins [ENGLAND]

Mervyn currently combines his post as Deputy Chief Examiner of ABRSM, the UK’s largest music education body, with freelance choral directing and other work in music education. Having been organ scholar at the Royal Holloway College, London, he then held a similar position at St Bride’s Church in the city before moving to St James’, Sussex Gardens as Organist. Mervyn was appointed as Assistant Director of Music at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in 1987. He became Director of Music there in 1993 and was also Chorus Master of the Bury St Edmunds Festival Chorus.
Director of Music at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral from 1997 until 2003, Mervyn was also Organist to the University of Liverpool during that time. He has directed choirs and given recitals in many parts of the world as well as adjudicating at festivals in several countries – with each of his cathedral choirs receiving wide critical acclaim for their recordings and live performances. Mervyn moved to Wales as Music Director of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in September 2003, becoming its Executive Director in 2008. He moved from the festival in 2011, then combining work for Mid Wales Opera and in Merseyside schools with examining at home and abroad; before taking up his present post in November 2015.
Other interests include walking, bird-watching and, increasingly, photography – and he lives with his wife Margaret on the Welsh-English border with their three-legged cat Missie!

Georg Grün [GERMANY]

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 the most important international and national choir competitions, he gives concerts at numerous renowned music festivals and he regularly produces CDs with Saarländischer Rundfunk, Carus and Rondeau Productions. From 2000 until 2013 he held a professorship for choral conducting at the University of Music and Performing Arts Mannheim. There, he founded a chamber choir with which he also won several international prizes.
In 2012, Georg Grün changed to the University of Music Saar as a professor and became artistic director of the BachChor Saarbrücken.
Since 2008 he has been a baritone member of Daarler Vocal Consort.
Georg Grün works as guest conductor and guest professor, juror and tutor at international masterclasses for choral conducting around the world.
Since 2010 he has been a mentor at the forum for conductors of the German Music Council and since 2015, he has been Chairman at the jury of the International Chamber Choir Competition Marktoberdorf since 2015.
He is increasingly concerned with improvisation (piano / organ) and performance and is also active as a composer and arranger.
The 2017-18 season of concerts, lectures, master classes and guest performances will take him to France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, Spain and the United States.

Maria Gamborg Helbekkmo [NORWAY]

Maria Gamborg Helbekkmo is professor emeritus at Bergen University College, where her main subjects were choir conducting, piano and solo voice. For a number of years she was teaching ear-training as a guest-professor at The Royal Academy of Music in Oslo.
She has given masterclasses in several countries, among those Canada, South-Korea, Germany and USA as well as Scandinavia.

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 Bergen Symphony Choir and the female choir Voci Nobili. Her determination, combined with her artistic abilities and her unique musical ambience resulted in 11 International first prizes with Voci Nobili.

In 2005 she was given the Norwegian Choral Association’s annual prize with Voci Nobili; she is a member of honor in Fonoko (Norwegian Conductor’s Society), and in 2006 she was awarded H.M. The King’s Medal of Merit in Gold for her educational and artistic contribution to Norwegian music.

Urša Lah [SLOVENIA]

Urša Lah studied Musical Education at the Ljubljana Music Academy and Choral Conducting at the University of Tromsø (Norway).

With Mixed Youth Choir Veter, APZ Tone Tomšič University of Ljubljana and the National Radio Chamber Choir, she has been involved in many première performances, and won many first prizes, golden plaques, special prizes and conducting awards at national and prestigious international choral competitions, including the Grand Prix of Europe (Debrecen, 2008).

In recognition of her valuable work with choirs, Urša received the highest award of the Municipality of Ljubljana for cultural achievement in 2008, and in 2009 the award of Public Fund of the Republic of Slovenia for Cultural Activities. Urša now lives in Norway, where she conducts the Choir of Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, she teaches Ensemble leading and choral conducting at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and works as a choir master for Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra and Artic Philharmonic Orchestra. She is a lecturer in educational seminars for choral conductors, a frequent member of adjudicating panels at international choral competitions, a guest conductor of recognised ensembles and one of two artistic leaders of the international Utopia & Reality Chamber Choir.