Ireland's Choir of the Year Competition

Applications for Ireland’s Choir of the Year Competition are now open!
Closing date: 19th January 2024

Participation in the competition implies acceptance of all the rules and regulations included on this page.

Ireland’s Choir of the Year Competition Syllabus

The Cork International Choral Festival highlights the best of choral music in Ireland. While the Festival takes place in dozens of venues across the city, the majority of the competitions take place in Cork’s City Hall, one of the most attractive and acoustically superb venues in Ireland.

The Cork choral experience is unique in Ireland. While participation in competitions raises performance standards, we believe that choirs also benefit hugely by performing, listening to and experiencing different expressions of the choral art. Even at international level, the range of opportunities in Cork is considered special. More and more Irish choirs now extend their stay by also participating in church and informal performances; attending a range of Festival activities throughout the week, including our feature Gala Concerts, Fringe Concerts, Conductors Masterclass, Seminar on New Choral Music; listen to some of the finest international choirs selected to compete for the prestigious Fleischmann International Trophy Competition; and attend the weekend Festival Club to meet other participants informally in a convivial social setting.

  • This competition is an important performing and competitive platform for Irish choirs of national standing and offers them the opportunity of comparison with international standards of choral performance.
  • The repertoire requirements align with those required in the Fleischmann International Trophy Competition.
  • Open to any Adult or Youth choir from the island of Ireland.
  • Minimum age of 16 years of age on the day of competition.
  • Minimum 20/maximum 60 voices
  • Irish choirs selected for the Fleischmann International Trophy Competition may also enter this competition.
  • Ireland’s Choir of the Year will be awarded the Victor Leeson Perpetual Trophy (See SPECIAL AWARDS), a specially-commissioned National Trophy and Money Prize.
  • Prizes:
    • 1st Prize – €1000, Perpetual Trophy, National Trophy & Certificate
    • 2nd Prize – €500 & Certificate
    • 3rd Prize – €250 & Certificate

The third Friday in January of the same year.

A programme of a cappella music consisting of three contrasting works whose total duration (actual singing) is between nine and twelve minutes. The music must be purely vocal without the addition of percussion instruments. Choirs whose programme exceeds the prescribed limit will incur a time penalty.

The contrasting programme must represent a historically balanced and coherent range of styles and must include:

  • A polyphonic work composed before 1750
  • An original work by a living Irish composer

Subsequent to final acceptance, a choir may not change its repertoire or the order in which it will be sung. The five-member international jury allocates marks for the technical and artistic quality of the chosen programme and the overall quality of its performance. It will also take into account how well the choir communicates with the audience in a performance situation.

Applications can be submitted online by completing the entry form available here.

Each choir is required to include with their online application:

  1. A completed online application form, including the choir’s proposed competition programme (see Repertoire Requirements detailed above) and a short history of the choir and conductor detailing activities and achievements (max 250 words). If accepted, the competition repertoire and its order of performance may not be subsequently altered.
  2. NEW - A digital certified copy or a scanned copy of an original version of each work in A4 PDF format.
  3. Entry Fee of €150

The scores must be uploaded using the online application form. In the event of the competition music not being submitted by the official closing date, an additional €15 will be levied (see Rules & Regulations).

Acceptance of late applications is at the discretion of the Cork International Choral Festival and is not guaranteed. Late entry fees and late music penalty fees, as detailed in this syllabus, will be applied (See RULES & REGULATIONS).

Ireland’s Choir Of The Year: €150

Bank Details

Entry fees can be paid by cheque or bank transfer.

Account Holder: Cork International Choral Festival
Bank: Allied Irish Banks plc, Patrick Street, Cork, Ireland
IBAN: IE85 AIBK 9341 5105 1954 48
Account Number: 05195448
National Sort Code: 93 41 51
NOTE: Please ensure that the name of choir is noted on bank transfer as narrative

Eligibility To Compete

1. All members of a competing choir, except the conductor, must perform in the Festival as amateurs.

2. No singer may compete as a member of more than one choir in the same competition.

3. Choirs may enter more than one National Competition.

4. No choir may compete at both international and national open level.

Eligibility For Specific Competitions

5. Age limits apply in all National Competitions.

6. National Competitions are open to choirs from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

7. Schools of Music and Stage School choirs are not eligible for the National Competitions for Schools but are encouraged to enter the Youth Choir Competition.

8. a) Any Irish choir may apply to take part in the Fleischmann International Trophy Competition.
8. b) The Artistic Advisory Board reserves the right to invite any Irish choir to participate in the Fleischmann International Trophy Competition.


9. All competition works must have been composed for a cappella (purely vocal) performance except where expressly stated otherwise.

10. Where a strophic work is chosen (i.e. having the same music for each verse) only two verses may be sung.

11. a) Where three works are required, the total duration must not exceed twelve minutes.
11. b) Where two works/chants are required, the total duration must not exceed 8 minutes.

12. The Adjudicators will penalise choirs whose programmes exceed the prescribed limits.

13. No choir can sing the same pieces in another Festival Competition. This applies to both national and international level.

14. Two consecutive Festivals must elapse before a choir can re-include any piece of music in its national competition repertoire.

15. Subsequent to entry, a choir may not change its repertoire or the order in which it will be sung (i.e. the order listed on the entry form).

Entry Procedure

16. a) Only a digital certified copy or scanned copy of an original version of each work in A4 PDF format may be uploaded with the application.
16. b) Choirs presenting a Plainchant repertoire in the National Competition for Church Music are required to specify the chants, indicate their sources and the digital or scanned copy from the relevant volumes.

17. A separate entry form is required for each competition and must be accompanied by the correct fee.

Late Application Penalties

18. In the event that the Artistic Advisory Board accepts a late entry, an additional 50% of the competition fee will be required.

19. In the event of original music not being submitted by the official closing date, an additional €15 will be levied.

Broadcasting, Recording And Photographic Rights

20. It is a condition of participation that a choir agrees that:
a) Any performance it gives during the Festival may be photographed, broadcast live and/or recorded for subsequent reproduction and/or broadcast on radio/television/internet without payment to the choir. All broadcasting and photographic rights to any performance at the Festival shall belong to the Festival which will be free to dispose of them or utilise them in promotional material as it sees fit. It is the duty of all choirs with members under 18 years of age to ensure that informed consent is sought from young people and their parents/ carers is this regard.
b) Any performance it gives during the Festival may, without payment, be recorded and the Festival shall be entitled to possession of any such recording and shall further be entitled to reproduce any such recording and to sell, let for hire, o er or exposure for sale or hire, distribute or otherwise dispose of any recording or reproduction of recording of any such performance in any manner it sees fit.

General Rules

21. The Artistic Advisory Board reserves the right to limit the number of entries for each competition.

22. The Artistic Advisory Board reserves the right to cancel a competition if it feels that there have been insufficient entries.

23. The Artistic Advisory Board reserves the right to advise a choir to enter an alternative level of competition.

24. The Artistic Advisory Board reserves the right to refuse entry to any competition.

25. Requests for permission to enter competitions other than at the times indicated on the timetable cannot be entertained. The Artistic Advisory Board, nevertheless, reserves the right to alter the timetable in light of the number of entries received.

26. A first prize is awarded only for a mark average of 85%+.

27. A second prize is awarded only for a mark average of 80%+.

28. Adjudicators’ decisions are final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding any aspect of their work.

29. It is contrary to law to perform music that has been reproduced illegally. Should a choir do so, the Festival accepts no responsibility for any action taken by copyright owners.

30. The Festival does not contribute to a choir’s travel costs to/from Cork.

31. A choir withdrawing from a competition is not entitled to a refund of the entry fee.

32. The Festival accepts no legal responsibility whatsoever in respect of anything pertaining to a choir’s participation in the Festival.

33. The Festival reserves the right to change its dates in the event that a concert, or other public event or any circumstance outside the control of the Festival renders it impracticable to hold the festival on the scheduled dates.

34. Participation in the Festival implies acceptance of all the rules and regulations.

The following timetable is provisional. It may be subject to change depending on number of entries in each competition and Festival’s schedule requirements.

Wednesday of Festival Week
Morning, City Hall: National Competitions for Primary Schools

Thursday of Festival Week
Morning/Afternoon, City Hall: National Competitions for Secondary Schools

Saturday of Festival Week
Morning, City Hall: Upper Voices, Lower Voices, Chamber Choirs & Ensembles, and Workplace Choirs
Afternoon & Evening, City Hall: Fleischmann International Trophy Competition

Sunday of Festival Week
Morning, City Hall: Mixed Choirs, Youth Choirs & Ireland’s Choir of the Year
Afternoon, City Hall: National Competition for Light, Jazz & Popular Music
Afternoon, St Fin Barre’s Cathedral: National Competition for Church Music

Adult and Youth Competitions

Victor Leeson Perpetual Trophy

Donated by the Guinness Choir in memory of its founder Victor Leeson on the occasion of the choir’s 50th Anniversary in 2001.
Awarded to Ireland’s Choir of the Year.

Perpetual Trophy for the performance of Irish Contemporary Choral Music

Donated by Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland. Special Award for the performance of an original choral work by a composer represented by the CMC. Works must be written after 1975 and from the library of the Contemporary Music Centre (See WORKS BY IRISH COMPOSERS).

Trofaí Cuimhneacháin Philib Uí Laoghaire

The Pilib Ó Laoghaire Memorial Trophy donated by Cór Cois Laoi. Special Award for the performance of a work in Irish.

The John Mannion Memorial Trophy

Donated by the family of John Mannion. Special Award to a Chamber Choir for the performance of a work in the National Competitions.

Heinrich Schütz Perpetual Trophy

In Memory of Dr. Hans Waldemar Rosen. Special Award for the performance of a work by Heinrich Schütz in the National or International Competitions.

Choirs in all competitions are actively encouraged to include works by composers born or resident in the island of Ireland.

Choirs are directed to the following resources:

  1. The CMC Choral Catalogues series includes Children’s and Upper Voices Repertoire, Mixed Choir Repertoire and Christmas Repertoire. All the works have been selected by specialist curators and graded with a comprehensive set of guidelines. The catalogues can be accessed here:
    • Performer Resources
    • CMC Choral Catalogue, Children’s and Female Voice Repertoire
    • CMC Choral Catalogue, Mixed Voice Repertoire
  2. These graded catalogues are a useful starting point in selecting repertoire, but please note that any choral works held in CMC library are eligible. Sample pages are also available for a selection of choral works at In addition Library Coordinator Susan Brodigan will be pleased to assist choirs in their choice. Email: [email protected]. Scores may be purchased directly from the Centre or online through the CMC Shop.
  3. Scores featured in the CMC Choral Catalogues are now available for purchase via licensed download via the CMC website. A guide designed to ‘walk you through’ the licensed download process is available on CMC website.
  4. Choirland: An Anthology of Irish Choral Music, is a collection of 15 pieces by Irish composers for unaccompanied mixed choir. Published by the CMC, the collection has been produced in partnership with Sing Ireland and Chamber Choir Ireland (CCI) with funding from The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon. Each piece is presented with performance notes designed to aid conductors and singers alike, and the book includes a CD recording of the music by Chamber Choir Ireland conducted by its Artistic Director Paul Hillier. Choirland is available to purchase from CMC’s Online Shop and direct from the Centre.
  5. The Commission Scheme administered by the Arts Council (70 Merrion Square, Dublin 2. Tel: 01 618 0200)
  6. The independent commission of new works from Irish composers.

Special Note: Each choir is advised to order music 2-3 months in advance of the National Competition
Penalties for the receipt of late music will be strictly adhered to. The Festival is pleased to recommend the following for the purchase of music.

Sing Ireland
Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, Ireland
Tel: 061-234823, Web:, Email: [email protected]

The Contemporary Music Centre
19 Fishamble Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 8
Tel: 01 6731922 • Fax: 01 6489100
Web: • Email: [email protected]

Opus II
Web: • Email: [email protected]

Pro Musica
20 Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork
Tel: 021 4271659 • Fax: 021 4273780
Web: • Email: [email protected]