International Adjudicators


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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 choir and Musica Sacra, a choral group specialising in works of the high Baroque.  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. Mark is delighted to have been invited to conduct Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana with Tallaght Choral Society and the East Cork Choral Society in the opening concert of this year’s 60th anniversary Cork Choral Festival and to act as the Irish representative on this year’s panel of international adjudicators.


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Mervyn Cousins was a Cathedral Chorister at Southwell in Nottinghamshire.  He read for a Music Degree at Royal Holloway College, University of London, and was Organ Scholar there.  He was a prizewinner both at University and at Royal College of Organists examinations.  After posts in London, at St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street and St James’, Sussex Gardens, 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. Mervyn was Director of Music at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral from 1997 until 2003, and he was also Organist to the University of Liverpool during this time.  He has directed choirs and given recitals in many parts of the world as well as adjudicating at festivals in several countries.  He moved to Wales as Music Director of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in September 2003, becoming its Executive Director in 2008.  Mervyn moved from the festival in 2011, and he now combines work for Mid Wales Opera with ABRSM examining at home and abroad.  He returns to Merseyside regularly to promote singing in primary schools.  Mervyn is also a member of the Board of Glyndŵr University (Wrexham). Mervyn’s other interests include walking and bird-watching.  He is married to Margaret, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Chester University (herself a professional singer); they live in the hills above Llangollen with their three-legged cat Missie!



Composer, conductor and violinist, Lorenzo Donati has studied in Arezzo and Florence under eminent international musicians.  Performing concerts with Vocale Vox Cordis, Hesperimenta Vocal Ensemble di Arezzo, and Vocalia Consort di Roma, he has won awards both nationally and internationally.  His conducting experience includes the Coro Giovanile Italiano (Italian Youth Choir), which he has co-directed since 2011, and he is involved in FENIARCO (Italian National Federation of Regional Choirs Association). In 2007 he won first prize in both sections at the International Competition for Choir Conductors “Mariele Ventre” in Bologna. He teaches choral conducting at the Conservatory of Trento, and is often invited to adjudicate at international competitions.  As a composer, his pieces are performed by ensembles and soloists around the world including Coro Giovanile Italiano, St. Jakobs Chamber Choir from Sweden & Philippine Madrigal Singers, and he has won notable prizes in international competitions including Arezzo, Gorizia, Avellino and Vittorio Veneto.  His expertise as a teacher is in worldwide demand, and he has held courses in choral music and composition in Italy, China, France and Russia, and for the Choral Academy and Fondazione Guido d’Arezzo.


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Educated as a pianist, singer and a conductor, Helbekkmo is professor emeritus at Bergen University College, where she used to teach choir conducting, piano and solo voice. Helbekkmo has gained wide recognition as a musician and a 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 ambiance shaped Voci Nobili into one of the top choirs in Europe with numerous international first prizes. In 2005 Helbekkmo won the Norwegian Choral Association’s annual prize together 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. Maria Gamborg Helbekkmo is a frequent lecturer at international conferences. She is also frequently used as a member of international jurys. She is a member of honour in the Norwegian Society of Choir-conductors (FONOKO).





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Born in the Saarland, Germany, Volker studied music in Herford and Cologne. From 1972 to 1997 he was organist and church music director (KMD) and conductor of the Domkantorei Altenberg as well as director of the “Sacred Music” series at Altenberg cathedral. In 1968 Hempfling founded the world famous Kölner Kantorei, specializing in a cappella music of the Romantic and modern periods. In 1983 he became director of Cologne’s Gürzenich-Chor. In 1984-85 Hempfling was recipient of a Deutscher Musikrat fellowship for work with Sawallisch and Penderecki. In addition to guest conducting appearances, he acts as a lecturer in conducting and vocal training courses throughout the world. He has been head of the jury of three editions of the Marktoberdorf Chamber Choir Competition. In 1985 he became professor for choral conducting at the University of Music Saarbücken. From 1993 – 2004 he was professor of choral conducting, director of the Protestant Church Music division and conductor of the chamber choir in the Robert Schumann-Hochschule in Düsseldorf. In June 2004 he conducted the World Youth Chamber Choir to mark the 60th anniversary of D-day in Normandy, France. In 2006 he edited “Lore-Ley”, the first edition of a German Folksong Book for mixed choirs. In July 2008 Volker was a member of the Artistic Committee for the World Symposium on Choral Music, Copenhagen. Since 2003 Hempfling is lecturer of the International Seminars for Choral Conducting in the Bavarian Music Academy following the International Chamber Choir Competitions Marktoberdorf.

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Schools Adjudicators


Deirdre Moynihan_Headshot

As a soprano soloist Deirdre performs with many operatic, orchestral, choral and chamber music groups both in Ireland and on the International stage. She is an early music specialist and also embraces the challenge of contemporary compositions.  Recent premieres include works by Raymond Deane, Bill Whelan, Ian Wilson and Brian Irvine.  She has been a soloist with, amongst others, the R.T.É Concert Orchestra, R.T.É National Symphony Orchestra, Irish Baroque Orchestra and Irish Chamber Orchestra. Radio broadcasts include Lyric FM, RTE Radio 1 and BBC Radio Ulster.  She was a former member of and soloist with the National Chamber Choir of Ireland. She has worked as the soprano coach for The Irish Youth Choir and is the Director of the vocal ensemble Moving Voices. Much in demand as a vocal coach, she has been invited to give many singing masterclasses and ensemble workshops. In 2013 Deirdre devised, launched and arranged music for the choral music website “Choirs Can” – She holds an MA in performance from the Cork School of Music and her first solo CD of Vivaldi Cantatas is due for release by Naxos in January 2014.




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Kevin O’Carroll is a Waterford based freelance conductor.  He currently directs a number of Irish  community choirs and a professional choral ensemble.  Equally at home in front of orchestra, choir or musical theatre groups, he has been guest conductor for choirs, orchestras and musical societies all over Ireland and abroad.

Having studied with the internationally renowned conducting clinician Dr. John Dickson in the USA and Cambridge, Kevin is recognised nationally as a choral specialist.  He is in demand throughout Ireland as an adjudicator, conducting teacher and for choral workshops.  In 2012 he was conducting consultant on a film for BBC television, Loving Miss Hatto.

Kevin’s 2013 book on choral conducting (Choral Conducting – A Handbook for Irish Choir Trainers and Conductors), is aimed at supporting  new or reluctant choral conductors and is used as a text book by several colleges.

Kevin holds a Dip. ABRSM  in Choral Conducting, a B.A. (Hons.) in Music and Business Management and a Master of Music in Choral Conducting performance. In September 2014 he hopes to commence PhD studies in the University of Limerick.  The topic of his research relates to performance practice of Renaissance choral music and the impact of modern notation on such performance.