THE Usk Choral Festival returned with a bang, with the finale bringing “a tear to everyone’s eye”. 

The four-day event proved one of the most successful years yet, with over 1,000 singers.

Held every two years, the festival was an uplifting non-competitive event celebrating diverse choirs in the local area.

Although most of the choirs came fromAbergavenny, Newport, Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent, Usk and other parts of Monmouthshire, it also welcomed singers from north-east Wales, Somerset, Penarth, Brecon and Barry. 

A festival spokesperson said: “One of our founding principles is to celebrate the joy of non-competitive choral singing.

“There’s good scientific evidence that singing together is good for you and you can see it on the faces of both the performers and the sell-out audiences.”

The musical extravaganza centred on St Mary’s Church and The Sessions House provided audiences with a plethora of genres and stylings, as well as a workshop, including male voice choirs, church choirs, mixed acapella groups, women’s choirs, community choirs, and young people’s singing groups. 

Choirs listened enthusiastically to each other’s performances and showed their appreciation of a song well-sung.

“Another of our principles is to showcase as wide a variety of choral music as possible, so you might hear madrigals from the 16th century alongside pop tunes, modern classics, songs from across the world as well as traditional Welsh hymns.”

What started with 19 choirs saw 36 this time, and the town turned out to provide the best welcome for its visitors, with cafes and pubs opening their kitchens at special times to provide refreshment to fit in with the busy schedule.

“The reactions from audiences and choirs has been universally positive. Everybody left with a smile on their face and as the event went on, more tickets were sold as people didn’t want to miss out on the later concerts,” said the spokesperson.

“The standard of performance was universally excellent and in every age group, the numbers of those singing to the highest standards are increasing.

“For those of us with singing in our blood, it was most encouraging to see and hear.”

See the festival’s Facebook page to see videos of choirs.