Derry choir Codetta to set off on Mexican tour this Easter

On Easter Sunday, Codetta, the internationally acclaimed and prize-winning chamber choir from Derry, will embark on a week-long Mexican tour, fresh from holding a special pre-tour concert in Christ Church last Sunday.
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Under the direction of conductor and musical director Dónal Doherty, Codetta will be performing concerts in Tequila and Guadalajara in the country’s Jalisco province at the invite of the La Fundación Beckmann, with which Codetta has established a relationship in recent years.

The Beckmann Foundation was created in 1998 with the objective of improving the quality of life of the population of Tequila through elevating the academic, artistic and cultural education of its children and young people, and it has forged links with Codetta through the choir’s regular collaborations with celebrated Mexican tenor and honorary Derry man Benito Rodriguez.

At Sunday past’s free recital, Codetta performed a selection of the repertoire for the trip. Originally slated to take place over Easter in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the tour’s postponement that year.

Derry choir Codetta.Derry choir Codetta.
Derry choir Codetta.

On Tuesday 11 April, Codetta will give an invitation concert of Holy Week, Easter and Irish works at the Centro Cultural Juan Beckmann Gallardo in Tequila, at which it will perform ‘Media vita’ and ‘Eirí na gréine’ by Michael McGlynn; ‘Miserere’ by Gregorio Allegri; ‘Tristis est anima mea’ by Francis Poulenc; ‘Ave verum corpus’ and ‘Haec dies’ by William Byrd; ‘Exsultate, jubilate’ by Karl Jenkins; ‘Oh, Danny boy’, arranged by Andrej Makor; ‘The parting glass’, arranged by Desmond Earley; and the classic Mexican song ‘Bésame mucho’ by Consuelo Velázquez, arranged by Derry composer Michael Doherty. Soloists for the concert will be Codetta members Maeve Byrne, John Fox, Kevin Healy, Ciarán Kelly, Helen O’Hare, Aaron Slattery and Rachel Tierney, with Maria Cutliffe on bodhrán and Niamh McGowan on violin accompanying.

The following day, Wednesday 12 April, the choir will travel to Guadalajara to perform Maurice Duruflé’s ‘Requiem’ alongside members of Tequila’s Coro de la Fundación Beckmann in the magnificent surroundings of La Catedral Metropolitana de Guadalajara, the Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady, with soloists Helen O’Hare and Ciarán Kelly, accompanied by Felipe Adrián Rojero on organ and Yalissa Cruz on cello. The choir will also be reprising a selection of the Holy Week and Easter repertoire from the previous evening’s concert.

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Speaking ahead of the tour, Dónal Doherty said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been invited to perform in the beautiful settings of the cultural centre in Tequila and the cathedral in Guadalajara as part of our trip to Mexico.

“The relationship between Codetta, the City of Derry International Choir Festival and the Beckmann Foundation in Mexico is very significant in terms of the choral education programme that is being developed in Tequila and Guadalajara.

Codetta performing in Christ ChurchCodetta performing in Christ Church
Codetta performing in Christ Church

“We will present a mixed programme of music in Tequila, with favourites such as 'The parting glass' and 'Oh, Danny boy' being performed alongside music for the season of Easter and the popular Mexican song 'Bésame mucho' in a wonderful arrangement by Michael Doherty. We will then be joined by some local singers for our performance of the Duruflé Requiem.

“Codetta is greatly indebted to Benito Rodriguez and Laura Sheerin for their invaluable help and support in making this tour happen. We travel as proud ambassadors of the City of Song, continuing to promote the global reputation of the City of Derry International Choir Festival.”

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Codetta was formed in 2000. Since then, it has earned a reputation for choral excellence, competed in choral festivals across Europe and given many concerts both nationally and internationally, including performances in the United States, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, Norway, Slovenia and Switzerland. Past highlights include two Prom performances in the Royal Albert Hall in London, Last Night of the Proms in Belfast and as the special guest choir for BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2015, which was broadcast live to an audience in excess of eight million viewers.

In 2017, Codetta achieved the honour of winning the Fleischmann International Trophy at the Cork International Choral Festival after being awarded first prize in the festival’s international choir competition.

Codetta will set off on their Mexican tour on Easter Sunday.Codetta will set off on their Mexican tour on Easter Sunday.
Codetta will set off on their Mexican tour on Easter Sunday.

The choir performs regularly with the Ulster Orchestra, in 2019 recording the soundtrack to the film ‘Lost Lives’ and as part of the City of Derry International Choir Festival in performances of Brian Irvine’s ‘Anticlockwise’, Howard Jenkins’s ‘The Armed Man’ and Anton Bruckner’s ‘Mass No. 2 in E Minor’, at which it was joined by choristers from the Beckmann Foundation Choir for the first time.

With a return to live music-making for the festival in 2021, Codetta, along with members of local choir Momentum, gave a performance of Bob Chilcott’s ‘The Voyage’ in the Millennium Forum and also presented a memorable late-night concert with Derry-born cellist Kim Vaughan in St Columba’s Church, Long Tower.

For the tenth edition of the City of Derry International Choir Festival in 2022, Codetta, as part of a 100-voice festival chorus, again linked up with the Ulster Orchestra to perform Carl Orff’s epic ‘Carmina Burana’, before going on to give an emotive performance of Duruflé’s ‘Requiem’ in the city’s St Eugene’s Cathedral, joined by four members of the Beckmann Foundation Choir who had travelled to Derry to participate, following online rehearsals with Codetta musical director Dónal Doherty. Soloists that evening were the baritone Omar Lara from Opera Studio Beckmann in Tequila and Codetta’s Helen O’Hare.

In the run-up to the 2022 festival, Codetta also took to the stage in a packed Ebrington Square to perform alongside legendary son of the city Phil Coulter in a mass sing of his iconic ‘The Town I Love So Well’, which was recorded and broadcast online.

Codetta.Codetta.
Codetta.

Plans for later in 2023 include July’s Opera Hibernia, a newly established opera initiative based in Derry under the direction of internationally renowned Derry soprano and erstwhile member of Codetta Laura Sheerin, the City of Derry International Choir Festival in October and the annual ‘Messiah’ and Codetta Sings Christmas concerts in December.

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